GALLERY: New and improved Ophir Trail opens up the views at Black Jack for new season

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
October 30th, 2013

Over the off-season, Black Jack Ski Club has been busy completing upgrades and maintenance on their trail network–including a new and improve Ophir Trail. With the trail upgrades, new access to an old trail, hosting a large race event, and family events throughout the year, there will be no shortage of reasons to head out to the club.

“A lot of the maintenance had to do with improving drainage,” said Wannes Luppens, who is on the executive board as Director of Fundraising.  “Last November we had standing water, ruts and puddles, which made for a slow start to the season.  We’ve done a lot of maintenance work to improve ditching and culverts in order to keep them dry, especially early in the season.”

Part of the maintenance and upgrades included regaining access to Ophir trail, on the north end of the reservoir.  Luppens says it’s a steep grunt, but a short grunt, and the views are worth it.  Regaining access to this trail provides amazing vistas for those willing to work for them, and opens up the lower part of the club’s trail network.

Some of the upgrades were race specific, as Black Jack will also play host to a Haywood NorAm event in December.  Some of the climbs needed widening to conform to race specifications. There are only a handful of places that consistently host NorAm events.  Black Jack is in good company, with other places like Canmore and Callaghan, having also played host to the Winter Olympics.  The event should bring hundreds of racers and support staff to Rossland from all over North America, and will require about 150 volunteers.

The major success of the maintenance and upgrades was made possible by the hard work of volunteers, as well as support from local sponsors, including: Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), RDKB Area ‘B’, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT), and the CBT Community Initiative program.

Currently, the club is doing its membership drive.  As a non-profit society, the club needs numbers in order to make it all happen.  Last year, the club had 677 members.  Which, according to Luppens, is about 1 out of every 6 Rosslanders, that has a pass to Black Jack, which would make it the highest per capita in western Canada.  The club has teamed up with Red Mountain Resort, Big Red Cats, Better Life Fitness, Gerick Sports, The Alpine Grind, and Mountain Nugget Chocolate to provide prize draws for early bird registration.  Cat Skiing, Big Deal 3 paks from Red, and tons of gift certificates are all up for grabs if you sign up early.  If you were thinking of getting a pass to Black Jack, now is the time to act!

Not to be forgotten, is the Ski Swap which takes place on November 2nd, in the Prestige Mountain Resort.  Gerick Sports will be there to help out and answer questions.

I think that if we work well together, with these businesses and all of these products, we’re creating a complete package,” said Luppens.  “If Red and Big Red Cats can say there’s great nordic skiing just up the road, and we do the same for them, it creates good synergy.  We’re seeing that more and more, with businesses helping each other out.”

The club is also planning a number of family events, keeping it light and fun for everyone.  “Last year we had a ‘Tour de Soup’, where each of the cabins had different soups from different local restaurants, and it was all free,” said Luppens.  

Black Jack is ready for a long season of good skiing.  Now we just need to strike white gold!

Categories: GeneralSports

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