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Whether you’ve visited Prince George once, twice, or a dozen times, chances are you’ve heard of the Otway Nordic Ski Centre- –and for good reason! Conveniently located on Otway road, only minutes from downtown, the ONSC facility has certainly become a hotspot for people looking to get active and enjoy the beautiful outdoors that Prince George has to offer.
Personally, I have grown to know this amazing facility quite well over the past few years. After moving to Prince George three years ago to pursue the sport of biathlon, the ONSC quickly became my primary training grounds and, ultimately, my second home. And how could it not have? There is no other outdoor facility in Prince George as diverse as Otway is; especially one that is open for use all year long! Thanks to the support of the facility’s dedicated volunteer and paid staff, Otway is able to keep over 55 kilometers of trails well maintained throughout the year. And these trails are not only for cross country skiing, aside from the 3-5 meter wide ski trails, the club has also designed a plethora of single track trails that are used for mountain biking, running, and even snowshoeing! And as an added bonus, due to recent upgrades, over 5 of these 55 kilometers are equipped with lights making after-work workouts & evening adventures safe and enjoyable for everyone.
So, were you thinking of trying something new this winter? Perfect! Whether you’re completely new to skiing or snowshoeing, or an experienced athlete looking to improve your skills, I can guarantee that the Otway Nordic Centre has something for you. With a focus on getting its users to stay active for life, the ski centre offers a wide range of drop in classes, private lessons, and long term programs that are tailored for every skill and age level! And if PG is just a stop along your journey and you don’t have your equipment with you while you’re on the road –don’t worry! Otway has an onsite rental shop that would be happy to outfit you with all of the equipment you will need for a snowshoeing or cross country skiing adventure!
Now, as a Prince George resident for three years I may sound biased as I speak about Otway so highly, but, let me explain to you why I’m doing so. After the announcement that the 2015 Canada Winter Games would be held in Prince George, and that the ONSC would be the venue for both the Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon events, the executive directors at ONSC wasted no time in beginning to prepare for the Games. These directors, as PG residents themselves, were passionate about showing the nation the beauty of the city, thus leading to the design of incredible upgrades for the facility that they believed were sure to leave visitors in awe. Over four years these designs became a reality as Otway underwent a major facelift. This began with the construction of a world class biathlon range, two new timing buildings, and some of the most technical and exciting race courses in all of Canada! When the games finally came around the hard work certainly did not go unnoticed. Athletes, coaches, and spectators from across the country left Otway spreading raving reviews and, quite often, vows to return to PG’s trails again in the future.
So, not convinced to go check it out yet? Ok, give me one more shot. Here’s one of the main reasons why I always enjoy my time spent on the trails out at Otway.
As remarkable as the facility is, one of my favourite things about Otway is the welcoming atmosphere that it’s users create. Whether it’s early Sunday morning, or late on a Friday night, you are never completely alone out at the centre; some days you may only have the silent stares of a herd of deer keeping you company, while other days you’ll be sharing the trails with over a hundred young skiers taking part in the ski school programs (but don’t let that scare you off, there’s plenty of room on the trails for everyone!), but each and every visit you will not have to look far to find joy in your adventure. The strong sense of community and friendship that is shared amongst the users on the trails has always been comforting to me, and it will surely keep you returning to Otway over and over again!
Some of my very best memories of Prince George were made at the Otway Nordic Ski Centre, and I am confident that some of yours could be too!
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