Monday, 30 January 2012

Cross Country skiing at Airport Nordic Ski Club in Gander, Newfoundland

By Keith and Heather Nicol      

   We recently were invited to Airport Nordic Ski Club located just outside of Gander, Newfoundland to do some ski clinics with some of their ski instructors and jackrabbit leaders. While we were there we also had a chance to view their scenic trail system with several of their members showing us the way. They have 16 km of groomed ski trails which wind through a forest of spruce and fir and 5.5 km of snowshoe trails.

In front of the day lodge

        There are fine views of Mt Peyton on clear day and some trails have good vistas of Gander Lake. They have excellent grooming for both classic and skating and their club seems to be growing in leaps and bounds. They now have about 300 members which is up significantly from just a few years ago. They have 4 km of trails lit for night skiing and they are just a few minutes from Gander so many people come out to ski on their lunch hour. They welcome visitors so if you are traveling through Central Newfoundland be sure to pack your skis or snowshoes and try out their trails. For more information: 
The trails are groomed for striding and skating  

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Cross Country skiing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador

By Keith and Heather Nicol

Skiing the Winter Games Trail
    Last winter we were invited to give a CANSI Level 1 ski instructors course in Happy Valley- Goose Bay, Labrador and were most impressed with the cross country skiing trails and lodge at the Birch Brook Nordic ski club. As well as enjoying the skiing we were invited to a potluck supper at the lodge which was a great way to meet many of the club members. The club offers well groomed trails for both classic and skating technique and as well as for snowshoeing. The ski club also has a magnificent new lodge with an amazing view of the distant Mealy Mountains. They have 35 km of trails and on my next visit we want to see the cabins they have built on their longer trails. This area has a long season with skiing typically running from December until well into April. For more information contact: for their event calendar and listing of other club activities.  Cross country skiing in the Big Land is different from the skiing in many other places we have visited and we enjoyed the bright sunshine and the expansive open vistas. It is certainly worth a trip. 

Enjoying one of the trails near the lodge

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Avalanche Awareness Day - Corner Brook, Newfoundland - January 21, 2012

by Keith and Heather Nicol

Signing up for an avalanche course at Marble Mtn
       Newfoundland's only Avalanche Awareness Day will be held on Saturday, January 21,2012  at Marble Mountain and the Blow Me Down cross country ski club in Corner Brook.  Avalanche awareness days are held across Canada in the third week of January to raise awareness of avalanches and snow safety for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. This is the second time this event has been held in Corner Brook and there will be an information  table set up at Marble Mountain in the lobby area on Saturday morning and at in the lodge at the Blow Me Down cross country ski club in the afternoon. The event is free and are all welcome to drop by and check out the basic equipment for avalanche safety  and well as take part in a draw for a free avalanche book. The event is sponsored by the Canadian Avalanche Foundation. Contact Keith Nicol for more information at or 639-1770.      
Some young participants at BMD Ski Club

       There have already been reports of avalanches and cornice failures in the Lewis Hills and Gros Morne Park so far this winter. My web site at: shows photos and comments from these avalanche reports. This page also links to other videos and information on avalanches in Western Newfoundland. If your group would like a 1 hour free avalanche talk then contact Keith Nicol at So far in 2012 I have presented talks to the Deer Lake SAR (Search and Rescue) group in early January,2012  and the Stephenville SAR group has requested a presentation in early February, 2012.These presentations are sponsored by the Canadian Avalanche Foundation. Below is video of last year's First Ever Avalanche Awareness Day in Newfoundland.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Cross country skiing has lots of options in Newfoundland and Labrador

by Keith and Heather Nicol
       Cross country skiing is alive and well in Canada's eastern most province. Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador (CCNL) is the umbrella group for cross country ski clubs and there are dozens of kilometers of groomed tracks waiting for any visiting skier. There are 19 clubs spread across the province and many have well groomed tracks for both classic and skate skiing as well as snowshoe trails. Most have clubhouses which offer food and chance to rest and relax. A number of ski clubs are located in Western Newfoundland where there is abundant snow but there are new clubs developing in Labrador. There are also several cross country facilities in central and eastern Newfoundland.  The CCNL web site: has lots of information about these cross country clubs and is a great resource for anyone planning a winter holiday in the province. The CCNL also hosts a variety of races and loppets and its web site has a detailed event schedule. Winter is a great time to see many parts of the province under a snowy blanket and there is no better way to explore than on skis or snowshoes. See you on the trails!
Skiers at the Blow Me Down Cross Country ski trails in Corner Brook, NL

Gander in the Central Part of the Province has great trails

Goose Bay, Labrador has a fine new cross country ski lodge

Friday, 6 January 2012

Learning the telemark turn on cross country skis

By Keith and Heather Nicol

The tele turn is a fine addition to your x-c downhill skills
       The telemark turn is an elegant way to descend a slope and I find that many cross country skiers want to try out this turn. But it isn't without its difficulties on skinny skis. I find that CANSI (Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) telemark progression a good place to start and the video below shows some of its key components. The telemark turn is fun to do and makes climbing uphill worthwhile if you can get in a few turns on the descent. Before you launch into doing full fledged linked turns, practice the telemark stance on the flats and then gradually add speed as you become more comfortable with the turn. For more nordic ski tips see:  
 For lessons, clinics or CANSI ski instructor courses on cross country skiing contact me at:   For other nordic skiing instructional videos see:

Thanks to Rossignol skis and boots, Infinity Ski Poles and Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador for sponsoring the following video on learning the telemark turn on cross country skis:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Use the diagonal skate to climb hills

By Keith and Heather Nicol

Use an alternate poling motion with the diagonal skate
     When I teach a 1 hour skate lesson for novice skiers I use CANSI's standard progression of free skate drills and then I introduce the 1 skate (V2 skate for U.S. readers) which is a good technique for the flats.  But I also like to leave students with a way to climb hills. Usually in the last 10-15 minutes of a lesson I teach the diagonal skate with the aim of showing skiers that it is really a free skate with an alternate poling action. I often get students to try it on the flats by first free skating with good arm swing and then have the skiers add a pole plant when their arms come forward. Once they can master the timing on the flats I then lead the skiers up a small hill. I emphasize that the key is to keep the skis moving so you will need to increase the tempo on the hills compared performing the diagonal skate on the flats. The diagonal skate may not be the fastest uphill skating technique but it relatively easy to learn and it gives new skiers a way to ascend hills. For more nordic ski tips see:  For other nordic skiing instructional videos see:

Thanks to Rossignol skis, Infinity Ski Poles and Cross
Country Newfoundland and Labrador for helping support the diagonal skate video seen below.