Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

New snow in Prince George leaves ski trails in great shape for world championships

Prince George getting ready to host the world March 5-17 at Otway Nordic Centre
Collin Cameron of Bracebridge, Ont., captured the silver medal in the men's 12.5 km biathlon sit ski event at the 2019 World Para Nordic Championships at Otway Nordic Centre.

After weeks of uncertainty with the weather and concerted efforts to make artificial snow on the ski trails at Otway Nordic Centre, Mother Nature is finally starting to cooperate.

Snowfalls this week have buried the trails under a half a foot of new snow and it’s been cold enough to maintain a stockpile of artificial snow.

That’s taken much of the pressure off organizers of the Para Biathlon World Championships and Para Nordic World Cup Finals coming to Prince George March 5-17.

“We normally would have started snowmaking in November or December, as early as we could, but without those cold temperatures we weren’t able to get it started until the first week of January,” said Kevin Pettersen, chair of the local organizing committee and a past-president of the host Caledonia Nordic Ski Club.

“We knew we had lots of winter left but it’s one of those things you never take for granted. We made the investment in snowmaking the past few years to extend it to all the trails that we’ll be using for the competitions but you have to have to cold temperatures to make the snow and we’ve been blessed to get a few windows for that, so we’re in pretty good shape.”

The trails in the stadium areas have between 45 and 60 centimetres of snow built up. The artificial stuff stands up to warm conditions better than natural snow, which tends to turn to ice when it gets warm. Crews were making snow through the night on Monday and early Tuesday morning and if the cold stays that will continue until the races start next week.

“If we didn’t have the snowmaking I don’t think we’d be talking about hosting the world,” Pettersen said. “You don’t need a lot of snow but you certainly couldn’t be relying on hosting a big event with just six inches of snow.

“It looks really great out there now. It’s really firm and the groomers have been doing a wonderful job,” he said.

The biathlon championships are scheduled for March 5-10, followed by the World Cup cross-country/biathlon finals, March 13-17. Each event has four competition days with racing each week on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Twelve countries, including China, are entered in the Para Biathlon event, which is sanctioned by the International Biathlon Union. The International Ski Federation (FIS) will sanction the Para World Cup, which will include teams from 18 countries.

Canada will have six athletes in biathlon and 11 athletes and one guide for the cross-country events. Skier Mark Arendz, a five-time Paralympic champion in 2018, is coming back to Prince George, having competed at Otway in 2019.

Canadians Brittany Hudak, Natalie Wilkie and possible sit-skier Collin Cameron will also be back racing at Otway as veterans of the 2010 Para Nordic World Championships

Despite its war with Russia, Ukraine is sending 25 athletes and eight guides to Prince George for both events. With coaches, managers, therapists and wax technicians included, 43 people will make up the Ukrainian team.

Volunteer coordinator Vonda Hofferd has rounded up small army of 279 volunteers who have offered to help.