It’s going to be a busy summer on Hudson Bay Mountain thanks to a $418,000 grant provided by the provincial government to the Smithers Ski and Snowboard Club for a comprehensive list of improvements designed to heighten its ability to host regional and provincial competitions.
“This is really going to position us for the next generation or two for high quality experiences,” said club president Cormac Hikisch of the grant which comes from a program meant to promote tourism.
In broad terms, the work will improve the racing infrastructure on the two runs, Cinderella and Turkey Shoot, mainly used by the club.
But an amphitheatre will also be built and a high-tech weather station installed on top of the mountain to provide real time and accurate weather reports.
On the two runs themselves, growth will be cut down to no more than 10 centimetres high so that they can be used more comfortably and safely during low snow times such as the beginning of the season or at the end.
Two start houses will be added at Tower 7 so that skiers and volunteers will be sheltered from cold winds, providing a more amenable experience for each group during a day’s worth of racing. And there’ll be a new start house at the top of the runs.
Crucially, in-ground cables will run up the runs so that timers will essentially have ‘plug and play’ directly-connected timing capabilities for racing starts.
“To be able to do this, to have accurate timing is crucial,” said Hikisch.
Such capabilities will also mean an enhanced experience for two skiers coming down Turkey Shoot at the same time, he noted.
“We’ll be building a [start] platform this summer,” Hikisch added of that dual racing capability.
The timing package includes well placed and lit display boards.
A pump track, the description given to an introductory course for ski cross and snowboard cross, will be created this summer by shaping fill and other material.
“Our plan is that this will be a fun little course, like a skate park,” said Hikisch.
The Hudson Bay ski resort does build one each winter copletely out of snow but having an outline purpose-built will make it easier to maintain.
Hikisch is particularly looking forward to the amphitheatre construction, calling it a multi-use outdoor venue.
“It can be for podium events, awards — all within a covered and sheltered area,” he said.
Hikisch said the grant was crucial to the club’s long-range project plan.
“Without it, we just could not move forward,” he said.
The grant is one of more than 50 being distributed with a total value of $21.3 million.
Elsewhere in the northwest, the village of Gitwinksihlkw in the Nass Valley north of Terrace is getting $400,00 to continue work on a trail system emphasizing the Nass River and lava beds.