Club has white wishes

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Soper hoping for snow, ready for ski season

(Front, from left) Board members Jack Waye, Peter Byrne, and Nick Soper, along with (back) former board member and the man responsible for the groomer, Joe McGuire, and groomer operator Terry Nippard, are ready for the snow to fall so skiers can once again hit the trails at the Airport Nordic Ski Club.  
— Photo by Matt Molloy/The Beacon

Gander — Just because there isn’t much cross-country skiing going on at the Airport Nordic Ski Club doesn’t mean the place isn’t busy.

Club president Nick Soper and his crew are ready to host skiers, and could probably open the place tomorrow if they had to, but until enough snow finally falls, the trails will remain empty.

However, when the snow does fall and skiers once again head to the trails, Soper said they’ll be enjoying an improved trail system with better brush cutting.

“We’ve done some drainage work, and we’ve also done some trail widening by the hut,” said Soper. “That gives us a better race course, and it also gives us a better start area. We’ve also improved the connecting trail between the Gold Trail and Pink Trail, which will allow us to work another trail into the competitive course.

“There’s been a lot of work done with brush cutting, but this is the first year we used an actual machine for it,” added Soper. “A local contractor used his Bobcat to cut the brush away. That made our brush cutting a lot easier.”

Along with improved trails, the club now has a completely paved parking lot, which, obviously, will be a lot cleaner than a dirt lot.

So, when the club hosts its biggest events in 2013, out-of-town competitors will find a different, yet familiar ski club.

“One is our club race (Gander Ski International), and that attracts skiers from all over the province. The other is the KidsFest and midget provincial championships, and, again, we get a lot of out-of-town skiers for that,” said Soper.

The club president went on to say the Gander Wings Special Olympics Club is planning to introduce cross-country skiing as an event in 2013. It already trains at the local ski club for snowshoeing competitions, and will continue to do so in 2013.

In fact, Soper said the club is offering a new snowshoeing-only registration this year, with the aim of attracting more people to the club.

“We want the snowshoe trails to get more use,” said Soper. “In the past, the only people who snowshoed were skiers who occasionally did a bit of snowshoeing. We want to bring in a different group who aren’t involved with skiing, and they can avail of our snowshoe trails that would take them right down to Gander Lake.”



Anybody interested in registering can do so online, or in person. Online registration can be found by visiting, and in-person registration can be done at Riot Sports in Gander.

The club is also accepting Jackrabbit registration, and Soper said anyone interested in joining that program should register now, as they had to put a cap on the number of entrants at the beginning of 2012.

When enough snow falls, registered members have nothing to worry about but staying upright, and in the future, Soper said more work is already planned.

“There’s one trail, the Red extension, requires a bit more work to groom with less snow. We have plans for that, but it just requires funding,” said Soper. “We’ll also have to replace our Alpine snowmobile, which we use for secondary grooming. When there’s less snow we’ll use a smaller machine, and that’s really important for us.

“There’s still very little snow down, so it’s up to Mother Nature now,” said Soper. “We’re ready to go. We just need the co-operation. We didn’t start skiing until mid-January last year, and very rarely do we ski before the New Year.”


The Beacon                                                       

Organizations: Airport Nordic Ski Club, Gander Ski International, Gander Wings Special Olympics Club Riot Sports

Geographic location: Gander Lake

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