I was new to Whitehorse once. It was October of 1981 and the first thing I did was sign up for a Jackrabbit leader course. I had a budding interest in cross-country skiing, and one of the first people I met here, Pete Saar, was organizing the course.

Many of the people I met on that course still live in Whitehorse and some are still involved with skiing. It certainly was my stepping stone to a long commitment with many friends, good times and healthy exercise.

Maybe you’re new to town, this October, or you’ve been here a while but you’re looking for something new. Or, you’ve made a deal with yourself to get outside and enjoy some physical exercise this winter.

A great starting point to get involved in cross-country skiing is to walk through the doors of the Wax Room at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.

When I first walked into the building, it was known as the Ski Chalet. It was a welcoming place then, but is even more so now with staff to greet you and an overwhelming amount of information to get you going on your skis or snowshoes.

If you’re intimidated by crowds and flashy skiers, try dropping by the Wax Room at quieter times such as a Monday, Wednesday or Friday during the day or evening. There is almost always somebody there to show you around, help you with wax or recommend ski equipment.

I would recommend volunteering at the club as the number-one way to meet people and to jump in with both feet. There is bound to be a program or event you would enjoy helping with. Over 250 members and non-members volunteer each year.

Volunteer jobs can be as big or as small as you want, from working a couple of hours at the annual ski swap to coaching throughout the season. Trail grooming, leading or helping with a Jackrabbit group, officiating at club races or even the national championships or organizing social events are all very satisfying roles.

Club programs also provide an opportunity to meet other skiers. There is a master’s ski group for those who want to train, and a group for adults who want some motivation and some coaching tips without the pressure of training and racing. Or, sign up for the Getting Started, Getting Better or Getting Faster lessons with Aurora Ski School.

In past years, groups of parents have formed babysitting co-ops to meet other parents and share child care while enjoying a ski outing. The club is open to suggestions for other programs. Some informal groups meet once a week and finish their ski outing with beer and pizza in the curling lounge.

There are many events throughout the winter, and this year there are even more events for the non-racing population. There will be everything from a treasure hunt, to a Hut to Hut ski and the Air North Challenge as well as time trials, races and Wax & Wine evenings.

Cross-country skiing may be a solitary activity for some, but it can be a great social outing, too, maybe even a date … or, should I say, a great way to hang with friends. Whatever you call it, the Chalet is the place to get involved, get active and feel the buzz of the cross-country world.

For a sneak preview of the club, programs, activities and volunteer opportunities, check out our website: www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca. It will also give you up-to-date trail information and a suggestion for which grip wax to use each day.

Mike Gladish is the manager of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. Contact him at info@xcskiwhitehorse or 668-4477. Or you can visit the website at www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca.