Checking out St. Anthony

Keith &
Keith & Heather Nicol
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Keith Nicol heads out on the trail system at the Aurora Nordic Ski Club in St. Anthony.

George Pink, a driving force behind the Aurora Nordic Ski Club in St. Anthony, had been in touch with me back in the fall about doing a CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) course for their club. I had been to St. Anthony over 20 years ago to run a CANSI course when most of the skiing took place on narrow trails behind the hospital and we were keen to see what the cross-country skiing was like there now.  Feb. 11-12, 2012 was selected as the best weekend for the CANSI course and we also scheduled some skating lessons for the general public as part of the package.

As we drove up along the Viking Trail (Highway 431) on Friday, Feb. 10 the views were spectacular of ice in the bays and the snow capped Long Range Mountains in the distance. We have visited this area many times in the summer and our Sept. 6, 2011 Destinations column dealt with sea kayaking with icebergs in the St. Anthony area. But this was our first winter driving trip to this area. The roads were generally good although we hit snow-covered sections in the last 80 km as we headed inland, past the airport, to St. Anthony.  We arrived in time to visit the trails and we checked out the 2.5-km loop, which I planned to use for the CANSI course.

Straightaway we met Dean Pilgrim, the club’s groomer operator. Aurora Nordic Ski Club has a BR 180 groomer and several other pieces of grooming equipment that would make most clubs in Ontario or B.C. jealous. 

He told us that they hadn’t received much snow this winter and that they hoped to get more for their marathon trail since the Newfoundland and Labrador Ski Marathon is planned for the club for March 3, 2012.

“We may have to adjust the course if we don’t get more snow since our regular trails are grubbed and can be skied on with little snow, but the marathon trail still has low stumps and needs more snow cover. Usually snow is not an issue, but it is this year all the storms seem to have missed us,” Dean told us.

Overall the club has 20 km of trails groomed for skating and classic skiing and even though we only saw some the trails the views of the surrounding country side were very good.

On Saturday, we also got a chance to see their very active jackrabbit program that has about 60 members.

“About a quarter of our club members are in the kids jackrabbit program,” Pink told us and they had a nice terrain park set up for them next to the stadium.

The whole area was abuzz with activity as kids skied over bumps and under obstacles and then after their warmup they headed out on the trails. Overall, we were very impressed with the enthusiastic and dedicated people involved in the club.

And for skiers wanting to see a very scenic set of ski trails — plan on taking in the Newfoundland and Labrador ski marathon on March 3, 2011.

Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at

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