Ski season

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre has a new 2019 Tier 4 PistenBully Nordic snowcat. This new generation of groomers is more fuel-efficient and emissions have been reduced by 30 per cent compared to older snowcats.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre has won the unofficial race to become the first Okanagan cross-country ski area to open to the public for the 2019-20 season.

In fact, the popular ski area east of Vernon was unofficially open last weekend for more than 140 athletes and support staff with the BC Ski Team, BC Development Team and the BC Talent Squad.

“The skiing is GREAT,” reported general manager Troy Hudson in an email last weekend. Conditions only got better after significant snowfalls on Monday and Tuesday, and the ski area officially opened at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.” Combined with neighbouring Silver Star Mountain Resort, there’s a total of 105 kilometres of trails.

To check out current conditions, webcams are online at sovereignlake.com/conditions/webcam/ and the new weather station is at sovereignlake.com/conditions/weather-station/

Sovereign Lake’s big event for the 2019-20 season will be hosting the Ski Nationals, described as Canada’s Nordic ski championships where future Olympians compete.

“Sovereign is extremely excited to be the host venue for the Canadian National Ski Championships to be held March 25 to April 2, 2020,” said Hudson.

“This is the first time in 25 years that the North Okanagan has hosted the national championships. With over 1,300 anticipated athletes, service technicians and family members anticipated over 10 days, it will be a huge revenue booster to our community.

“We are actively seeking volunteers for this event from across the region. You can check out the new event website at skinational2020.ca.”

Here is a brief overview of other upcoming events and facility upgrades for 2019-20:

— Redesigned biathlon range: increased to 20 lanes, additional lighting intalled, penalty loop built, major earth-moving completed to level the range site, new safety fence installed;

— Waxing building upgrades, including new weather station and new internal LED lighting.

— Lodge interior upgrades: downstairs has significantly more storage for public clothing and gear and a new rental services department.

— “The biggest and most exciting purchase is our brand new 2019 Tier 4 PistenBully Nordic snowcat,” said Hudson.

“We were able to make this purchase through a capital gaming grant, donations from our generous club members (now more than 2,100), the Regional District of the North Okanagan and with saved revenues from the club over the past two seasons,” he said.

“This new generation of groomers is more fuel-efficient and has roughly 30 per cent reduced emissions versus older snowcats. We obtained this unit with three tracksetting pans and their latest tiller technology for the best grooming in all conditions. Thank you to Oak Creek, Chase Contracting and Silver Star Mountain Resort for assisting us with the assembly process.”

Events for the next month:

— The Sovereign Lake Open on Nov. 30- Dec.1 is a national level Tier 2 race bringing athletes from across Canada for early-season racing.

— XC Supercamps start this weekend in partnership with Silver Star resort. This series of ski camps (xcsupercamps.com) has been growing for the last five years and sold out for the first time.

— The Black Prince Dinner features a three-course dinner in the Black Prince Cabin just over an hour away from the lodge. Four dates are available with seating for 22. The Valentine’s Dinner is already sold out. Check the website: sovereignlake.com/ events/black-prince-dinners