'S' is for Skiing

Written by Charlotte Walker, Chalet Manager, Menihek Nordic Ski Club

When it comes to getting around on the snow, whether for sport or as a way of life, Labradorians have many methods, blending diverse traditions and technologies—from snowshoeing and dog-sledding to skiing and snowmobiling. This month’s feature by Charlotte Walker showcases the programs and successes of that club, with a focus on cross-country skiing. Cross-Country NL also lists three other affiliated clubs in Labrador, including in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (Birch Brook), Forteau (Mount Nascopi), and Makkovik.

And never fear: even if you don't have a ski club nearby, wherever you are in Labrador, you can be sure that winter will bring you lots of snow for skiing on!

'S' is for Skiing at Menihek Nordic Ski Club!

Skiing has been one of the most embraced winter activities by the people of Labrador West ever since this small community’s inception. Done both for leisure and necessity, skiing and snowshoeing have an eventful history in this quaint but mighty town. Having hosted 46 Great Labrador Loppets, provincial, national and international championships and World Cup competitions, Menihek Nordic Ski Club is known worldwide.'S' is for Skiing

The Menihek Nordic Ski Club was formed in 1972 by avid cross-country skiers in the new community of Labrador City, including several from skiers from Europe. This not-for-profit, executive-run organization acquired a sizeable plot of land adjacent to the Smokey Mountain Downhill Ski Club, on the leeward side of the mountain near the present-day Moss Pit Mining Deposit.

In time, the ambitious Menihek Nordic Ski Club led by Colin Jardine gained world-class distinction. Bill Koch, former World Cross-Country Medallist, and Al Merrill, a cross-country ski trail development consultant from New Hampshire, USA, designed the Koch Trail System at Menihek for the 1983 & 1985 World Cup Championships. Once these trails were tested by world-class cross-country skiers from around the globe, the once-small ski club was catapulted into the world class scene and used as a national training facility and World Cup Championship and Canadian Cup host for numerous years. In 1984, Bill Dwyer and Gerry Rideout came on the scene as club presidents and the club was on its way to becoming the sustainable organization we have today.

Menihek Nordic Ski Club boasts a modern day lodge with all amenities. Through the years, more trails have been added to the system, and the trail network now consists of over 30 km of groomed trails for snowshoeing, freestyle and classic skiing and recently fat bikes, with two of the trails lit in the evenings to promote and accommodate activity in the community. All trails are maintained through the winter with a PistenBully 100 groomer, and there are pit stop chalets for resting and getting warm along the way on those “cooler” ski days of -40°C. For high-performance racing, Menihek has a state-of-the-art timing building and Zone4 chip timing system.

Along with hosting sporting events, the club has developed programs and activities including programs for youth, women, and seniors, and all levels of instruction, including school class sessions, weekly lessons, training camps, and time trials.

Nothing at Menihek Nordic Ski Club would be possible without the club members, the countless volunteers, and tremendous community support. 2020 marks 48 years for the club in Labrador West, and it is our community that has taken us this far with their love of cross-country skiing.

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