There’s a big event coming to Whitehorse, very soon: the 2010 Haywood Nationals, or for those less familiar with the name, the Canadian cross country ski championships.

We’re going to need a giant podium because we’ll all be winners. (More on that next time.)

For this month, there is a big, non-competitive event, the Air North/Manager’s Challenge. Everybody who participates is a winner and everybody has a chance at the big prizes.

Skiers who don’t have a competitive instinct will still enjoy the challenge of exploring the fantastic trail system at Mount Mac.

Yes, Copper Trail is beautiful and gentle along most of its 10-kilometre length, and Selwyn’s is always in excellent skiing condition, but there are another 70 kilometres of trail to discover and enjoy.

The Air North Challenge is a month-long event, running from Feb. 1 to 28. There are variations in the challenge that will allow even the youngest skiers or beginning adults a taste of the adventure. At the same time, it will provide an incentive to even the most dedicated skiers who leave no corner unturned through the winter.

While exploring the trails, participants will look for the familiar orange and white orienteering controls that are scattered throughout the trail network. Each control has an attached hole punch with a unique pattern. Skiers will punch their control card at each point to prove they were there.

There is a little bit of thrill associated with finding the control and punching the card. Just try it and discover that “winning” feeling each time a card is punched.

There are four categories for this event, depending on how adventurous you are, or how much time you have.

Skiers who want a leisurely, but ultimate challenge will sign up for “Under Control” and they will be looking for 30 control points scattered throughout the trails from the top of Pierre Harvey to the top of Mount McIntyre and all points between.

The “Easy Going” skiers will have to find 20 controls which can be found on all trails except the Pierre Harvey and McIntyre Ascent.

“Control Freaks” are those more competitive skiers who want to challenge not only the manager, but themselves. They will have to visit all 30 controls in a two-day period.

Control Freaks must check in at The Ski Base to note their start day and the finish day. Any two-day period can be used during February.

Novice adults or younger skiers may choose the “What’s Control?” category. They will have to find 10 controls that will be located no further away than Harvey’s Hut, Fireweed Hut or Sarah’s Hut.

Check on the Air North Challenge Board in the Wax Room, or online, for the rules. The controls will be found only on groomed trails so there is no need to go wandering off the packed trail system.

Skiers will have to carry their punch cards at all times, until they’ve found all the controls. The punch card is the proof that the control was found.

When skiers complete the challenge, they hand in their punch cards and they will be entered in the draw for Air North tickets, ski club membership or some merchandise prizes from The Ski Base. The draw will take place on March 2 at 6 p.m.

So, skiers, take the Air North Challenge and discover some new trails. Maybe we’ll meet at one of those orange and white controls.