Hosting the NorAms: Black Jack thinks locally, acts globally

Tyler Austin Bradley
By Tyler Austin Bradley
December 15th, 2010

In underworld circles, a blackjack is a small, typically leather, sack roughly the size of a small purse or ankle-high sock. Stuffed with ball bearings, small stones or semi-precious stones for the fashionable underling, it’s normally a DIY weapon fashioned in mind of sneaking up behind someone and K.O-ing them with any one of a number of nefarious ends in mind. 

In Rossland, though, Black Jack means an impressively tight-knit non-profit club (“club” as in organization, not cudgel) that is rapidly gaining an international reputation for hosting world-class events.


This weekend finds Black Jack hosting three consecutive days of top shelf XC ski racing via the Haywood NorAm Teck Sprint Series. Speaking with co-organizer Ian Sibbald, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the event is palpable.


“The NorAm series is top-tier in North America,” Sibbald explains. “This weekend is attracting many of the top domestic racers from the US and Canada, as well as some world cup racers. We have over 150 registered competitors.”


And of those 150, there will be at least three Olympians: Rossland’s George Grey will be showing off the local club and trails to Canadian team peers Perianne Jones and Stefan Kuhn.


As to the format for the three day event, Sibbald highlights that this is the first such event of its type hosted in not just Canada, but North America–a three day series in which there is a winner for each series/day, the cumulative results from the entire weekend determining the overall winner.


“It’s a bit like the Tour de France in that respect. I’m very excited to see the sprints because that will be one of the determining factors in who gets to represent Canada in the world ski championships in Norway this year.”


Friday will ready, set, mark the sprint and set the tone for the remainder of the weekend. A 1.5 km free/skate technique leg burner, Sibbald assures me it will be a high paced and high-energy thrill for competitors and spectators alike.


And on the subject of spectators and improved sight-lines, Black Jack upgrades and improvements, Sibblad speaks to the recent successes manifested at his club. Crediting the hard work and efforts of the membership and supporting sponsors, he states that, “the renovations and changes make it possible to hold these high level events; as the requirements for (hosting ) these events get more specific and more demanding, Black Jack is trying to evolve from being a local club into a facility that can host international events on an ongoing basis.”


The best part, though, is that in doing so Blackjack hasn’t lost its character or soul in the process. It is still very much a club, and a democratic one at that.

“The majority of our members of very supportive of what has been done here. It gets money into the club… hosting these events are a real benefit to the club and town. They contribute to the local economy. We’re on track right now, we just need to stay on course.”


Or in the track, as it were. 


As if you needed more reason to attend, the Haywood NorAm is also a great opportunity to see local talent too. Locals Jeffrey Richards and Rebecca Reid will be competing, this event a stepping-stone to their representing BC at the upcoming Canadian winter games.


Local culinary talent will be in attendance, too with The Alpine Grind supplying food at cash and carry prices.


It’s a community effort all around, and Sibbald thanks Blackjack’s many sponsors for making the event a reality.


“Thanks to Mountain FM, Gerick Cycle, Kootenay Savings Community Foundation, Nelson District Credit Union (Rossland Branch), and Red Resort Lodging for all their help.” 


For complete event details, including start times, and all the usual etceteras, check out the club’s website



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