The manager of a cross-country skiing club in Corner Brook says membership is up this winter as people find themselves drawn to the freedom the sport offers under COVID-19 restrictions.
Shawn Leamon, manager of the Blow Me Down club, says people are attracted to the spacious 42 kilometres of groomed trails that provide outdoor exercise within ample physical distancing.
"Everyone is troubled with all the things happening in the world with COVID-19. All you hear is what you can't do. The beauty of Blow Me Down [is] we are here to tell you what you can do," said Leamon.
Dozens of skiers headed out on the trails on their lunch break Wednesday.
Wayne Eastman says he enjoys the exercise and tries to ski 10 kilometres a day.
"It is like a sanctuary here. And the people that work here, it is like a family. For example, I forgot my boots today. My first day out, I went in they gave me some boots. It's just a nice break from all the COVID-19 things that are happening all around us," said Eastman.
The club went from about 600 members to 900 this winter. The province's Alert Level 4 means there are some limitations inside the lodge, but Leamon says there is only freedom on the groomed trails.
"Just with the equipment, the skies and polls, you basically already got six feet of social distancing already accomplished just by putting your gear on," he said..
He says skiers are gliding along his trails, looking for a break from everything COVID-19-related — from the media briefings, to mandatory masks, to the new fast-spreading variant.
Anyone who wants to learn how to ski is welcome, said Leamon, and night skiing should start once more snow falls.
Marble Mountain update
He says some new members of the cross-country ski club are avid downhill skiers awaiting the opening of Marble Mountain Ski Resort.
Mild temperatures and rain in the forecast stopped the popular west coast attraction from opening Wednesday as scheduled, with management saying the weather is a big factor.
"Slopes and lift service will open as soon as snow conditions allow," stated management stated in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Staff will update the public weekly on a possible opening date. Capacity inside the lodge, kitchen area and rental shop will be reduced when the ski resort opens.
"We are hoping that people will be able to get up to Marble and start skiing soon, because we are all in the snow sports business, and it's great to see the west coast have multiple activities to do," said Leamon.