This year marks an important milestone in ski racing history in the North Bay area.
“This is the 50th year of our club. There is a ton of pride, a ton of history,” said Duncan Cornthwaite President of the North Bay Antoine Ski Racing Club.
“Some past-presidents just came in and dropped off some Aunt May’s trophies from way back when, and a nice banner from when we celebrated our 25th year. Just looking at some of the names on the trophies, Kate Pace is actually one of the winners.”
It was Glenn Lloyd and his wife who dropped off the trophies.
Both were avid volunteers with the racing club for 15 years.
“We’re both past presidents, past Alpine chair, past co-chair for Northern Ontario Alpine. We had a very busy 15 years,” said Lloyd who sees skiing as a family activity.
His son Matthew has retired from ski racing and is now sharing his love of the sport with his own young family.
“You can go out as a family, not just to race, but just to ski, enjoying the fresh air and exercise. It has come full circle,” said Lloyd.
Cornthwaite was overseeing the club’s annual ski and snowboard exchange at the Fur Harvesters Building when the trophies arrived.
The exchange is the club’s largest fundraiser.
“We’re trying to figure out how long we’ve been doing this. It must be over 30 years because I was just a kid standing out in the cold waiting in line,” laughed Cornthwaite.
People were lined up long before the 9 a.m. opening Saturday.
“I started letting some people in around five after eight because it was so cold out. They were lined up out to the road and around the corner not long after that. We had people from all the small towns around North Bay, and we had one person in from Sudbury. It is almost the unofficial start to the ski season.”
The exchange attracted people who had never skied before, those moving up in size and those wanting to upgrade their equipment.
Lynn Moreau had her two children in tow looking to outfit them in quality ski apparel at an affordable price.
“This is actually the first time we’ve been here. We skied for the first time with the kids last winter and they really enjoyed it. We thought we would try to get them into it a little more this year so we’re looking for good used equipment,” said Moreau.
The club is very active, hosting races on an annual basis.
“Last year we were very lucky to bring back the Laurentian race for ages U6 right through to U12. We had 138 racers last year. So that is coming up the second week of February. We also hold a race at Antoine which is a Home Hardware Classic. We get between 60 and 80 kids for that, and it is a U14 and up race,” explained Cornthwaite.
“And we helped start high school racing again last year so that is coming along. Hopefully, we’ll have an NDA race on the hill this year. Probably in the next year or two, we may even be hosting NOSSA.”
Cornthwaite says over the past five years, the club has experienced steady growth in the number of registered skiers.
“Last year we had 38 athletes, this year we are probably going to top around 50. The majority of our athletes are young, between the ages of 6 and 12. That is almost 80 to 90 per cent of our racers.”
A couple of competitors who raced last year are now joining the team as coaches.
Fifteen-year-old Maxwell Hong has been skiing since he was two years old.
He participated in the Nancy Green program, on his way to becoming a competitive skier.
No longer competing, Hong continues to give back to the sport he loves.
“I’m getting my Level 1 coaching this winter. I started coaching last year just filling in, and this year I’m in for the full season,” said Hong.
“My whole family skis. My mom started ski racing with the Nancy Green program as well. We are a family of four and we all ski all winter. It is a family thing. Even my grandparents are still skiing.”