The Yellowknife Ski Club wrapped up its Candy Cane Forest Ski event on Sunday, much to the delight of families and children in the festive spirit.

Santa Claus, right, and his elf dropped in to the Yellowknife Ski Club to add more spirit at the Candy Cane Forest Ski on Dec. 13.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Temperatures dipped close to -40 C on Sunday, which caused organizers to express some concern, but the lure of candy canes and exercise kept participation levels adequate.

Heather Scott, president of the club, said the Candy Cane Forest Ski, where hundreds of candy canes were hidden in the bush along the one-kilometre loop, “was a special event for young people.”

“Because we had funding to offer free use of our trails to non-members for the day, we thought about how to have a fun event to draw in some of the young people in town,” Scott said.

“We decided to set up one of the small routes with hidden candy canes along the way with Santa dropping in for two hours in afternoon.

Haku Matsuo, 4, left, Hiroko Matsuo, and Sohya Matsuo, 6, return from a cross-country ski on Sunday.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“There are not a lot of indoor events during the season because of Covid and we thought this would be a great way to see Santa.”

The Northwest Territories Parks and Recreation Association and Cross Country Ski NWT, which provided access to the trails, sponsored the event.


High turnout

The club opened in late November and since then crews have been working to maintain the trails, Scott said.

Zak Benning, 6, shows his candy cane collection from his ski on Sunday in the Candy Cane Forest.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

She said the club is seeing especially high turnout and involvement this year, likely, in part, because the leisure activity has been permitted throughout Covid-19.

Club membership is currently at 686, although the number usually ranges between 400-500, she pointed out.

“With proper distancing, cross-country skiing is a relatively safe activity and has been approved since the Phase 1 the Emerging Wisely document was issued by the chief public health officer,” she said.

“But I also think there is more interest in skiing in the city in general because people have been so awesome about tracking trails all over town, whether it be at Back Bay, Frame Lake or Range Lake. That has boosted interest.”

Scott said Covid-19, because it has led to restrictions in travel over the holidays, will likely mean more people will be around during the holidays. This is why there will be adult lessons held by the club on Dec. 20.

Yellowknife Ski Club events director Kerry Wheler hauls a spruce bough from the bush as part of trail maintenance work. She said she intended to turn it into a homemade wreath.
Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

“Usually we don’t offer lessons during this time of year but assuming most people are around and have time, we decided to offer our lessons close to Christmas,” she said.

Trail conditions have been good, Scott said, adding that she would like to still see some more snow accumulation.

Hedda Kehler, 9, Sadee Mitchell, 11, and Jeddy Kehler, 11, show off their candy cane findings from Candy Cane Lane while relaxing in the chalet on Sunday.



Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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