The Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club (WCCS) will open its doors for the annual Winter Sports Swap and Fair this October 18 at 9:00 a.m. This swap is really a winter gear sale, and a wide range of secondhand winter equipment will be available.

The yearly tradition is affectionately referred to as the ski swap, and fundamental aspects of life in Whitehorse coalesce at this event — namely, winter and gear.

For me, the joy of kicking off the winter season, while scouring the room for a steal-of-a-deal, is almost too much to bear.  

WCCS has been holding the swap since the mid-1980s, and it’s the club’s primary fundraiser. It requires 70 volunteers.

Cross-country ski gear still makes up the bulk of equipment sold, but downhill gear is a close second. Any non-motorized winter gear is.

Plan to arrive early; last year, the line-up went all the way to the parking lot, and 500 people attended throughout the day. When the gates closed about $30,000 worth of gear was sold.

Since moving to Whitehorse, cross-country skiing has become an important part of my winter routine. In addition to getting exercise, skiing the trails around the city gets me outside and socializing. Most recently it has brought me out for multi-day trips in Kluane National Park and Alaska.

I accessed this sport with some basic gear from the ski swap.

Now that I am a fully-fledged Whitehorse gear-head, I can think of several reasons why I can use a third pair of cross-country skis. I recognize how absurd that statement is, and I see the humour in it.

Nonetheless, engaging with the sport in varied contexts keeps it fresh and exciting for me, and ultimately keeps me feeling purposeful and happy throughout the winter; and part of feeling purposeful is having a reason to shop for great deals on gear.

As Mike Gladish, manager of the WCCS, notes, “People are coming to the gear swap for a deal. If it’s a deal, people just can’t refuse.”

Well Mike, I couldn’t agree more.

In fact, I would take it one step further and say that I’m compelled to attend because of the potential for a great deal.              

The prevalence of gear-loving winter enthusiasts is great news for WSSS, which uses the revenues from the swap to maintain awesome trails, and facilitate the wide range of programs that it offers to youth and adults alike.

The trails at Mt McIntyre are typically open for skiers in mid-November, and the first wax-and-dessert night of the year will take place on November 7. If you’re as impatient as I am to hit the trails, the winter gear swap is a welcome way to bide the time.

Those selling gear can drop it off in the wax room, downstairs, on Wednesday and Thursday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or at the Grey Mountain Room located on the upper level of Mt McIntyre Recreation Centre on Friday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  For more information, call 668-4477 or visit www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca