by Cross Country Nova Scotia, Staff, October 19, 2021
Hi Everyone – It’s time to get excited for skiing! Tempt yourself to discover more club trails and charming communities across our province. View our clubs’ awesome winter photos and trail highlights below – start thinking “skiing”. We’ve also highlighted where to find some of our key website information, for new visitors. Ski more, in Nova Scotia.
Keep an eye on our calendar for social skis, loppets (friendly ski events), provincial championships (skiers of all abilities encouraged to attend), courses, and more!
Cross Country Nova Scotia is the not-for-profit governing body for cross-country skiing in Nova Scotia. When joining a cross-country ski club, you also become a member of Cross Country Nova Scotia and Nordiq Canada.
Visit a Neighbouring Club!
Have you explored trails at neighbouring clubs? Pack your sense of adventure to experience welcoming ski communities and the natural beauty of our province – on skis.
Four cubs groom approximately 70 km of trails at 10 locations in Nova Scotia. Highlights of our cross-country ski clubs are outlined below. View more club news by visiting our Club Directory.
CBC News featuring ongoing partnerships established by Scotia XC Ski Club with golf courses and municipalities. This interview also highlights the popularity of skiing throughout the province – cross-country ski club volunteers are interviewed.
The GOAL (Great Outdoors & Active Lifestyle) program is a new offering for the fall of 2021 by Halifax Nordic Ski Club. The program is open to youths ages 11 – 14, who are looking to get a head start on the ski season.
The focus of GOAL is to provide a variety of outdoor activities in a group setting. These activities will help develop the foundational skiing skills of; balance, strength, endurance, & coordination. A priority of the program is to create a fun & self-challenging environment, based on the needs and interests of the participants.
Activities could include; hiking, biking, slack line, striding, obstacle course, orienteering, games & relays, a possible introduction to roller skiing and other activities based on the interests of the participants.
Wednesdays @ Shubie Park | 4:30pm – 5:30pm | 6 weeks | Wednesday, Oct 13 – Nov 17
The Nova Scotia government released additional policy details for proof of vaccination on September 17, 2021. Note the policy has not been fully developed – information may change and more details will be available before the policy is in effect. The policy will take effect during phase 5 of the provincial re-opening plan, estimated for October 4, 2021.
The health of our cross-country ski community is top priority. We are working diligently on the continual development of our return to sport guidelines, in compliance with rules established by the Nova Scotia Government. We will continue to partner with Sport Nova Scotia to update our guidelines, to ensure a safe return to skiing. Our cross-country ski clubs will take all steps necessary to ensure safe skiing environments.
Please refer to the Nova Scotia government website for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols. We thank-you in advance for taking the time to review and apply the necessary actions, which contribute to a safe skiing environment.
We will communicate updates for 2021-2022 return to skiing protocol online:
Join Liam and Lucas, hosts of East Coast Kids, as they spend quality time on skis at North Highlands Nordic! If you’ve been wondering where to plan your next ski trip, be sure to press play to catch a glimpse of this club’s majestic beauty and trail system designed for skiers of all abilities.
Thank-you Liam and Lucas! We enjoyed watching you having fun, as you tried cross-country skiing for the first time. We’re also happy you had the chance to meet Dennis Doyon, long-time club contributor; Daniel Murray, provincial team coach; and athletes from our provincial ski team.
East Coast Kids – Liam and Lucas are two bothers with similar interest and are excited to share their videos. Please visit and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.
East Coast Kids visit North Highlands Nordic in this episode! Photographed (left to right), Lucas (host), Liam (host), and Daniel Murray (Nova Scotia ski team coach).
Dialogue and select scenes from the episode below. Be sure to enjoy the complete video!
ECK | East Coast Kids: Today we’re at the North Highlands Nordic cross-country ski trails. This is located in the village of Cape North on the beautiful Cabot Trail. We’ll meet Daniel Murray, coach of the Nova Scotia cross-country ski team. He’ll show us all the stuff we need to know. We’ve never been cross-country skiing before so we’re pretty excited to try it out!
Enjoy the majestic beauty of North Highlands Nordic. Visiting skiers and snowshoers are welcome! Photographed – provincial team and youth skiers, Aspy fault in background.
ECK [to Dennis Doyon]: Dennis, will tell us a little bit about the North Highland Nordic trails.
Dennis Doyon, long-standing club contributor.
Dennis Doyon: Back in the seventies, a bunch of skiers got together and said you know what it’s a whole lot more fun to ski in a line all in the same track, than to try to mess around with deep snow. They all started skiing together, and before you know it, we were packing the tracks with ski-doos. That was all in the National Park, about 20 miles from here.
We ended up moving over here in the 1980s and we hosted the Canada Winter Games. Because of that event, we were able to put all the trail systems in, get some good grooming equipment, and the club membership kept growing and growing – until here we are now.
The nice part about North Highlands Nordic is it’s in the north of the Highlands, so we always have snow. Right now, throughout all of Nova Scotia there is very little snow, and we’re going to be skiing here until probably the last part of April. If you’ve got to live in a snowy climate, you might as well enjoy it, right?
North Highlands Nordic is situated in a natural snowbelt. Often, when the rest of the province is green, this club has skiable snow. Learn more about the Cape Breton weather, by visiting the Cape Breton Mesonet, which provides live and archived weather and operates over 50 weather stations on Cape Breton Island.
ECK: Tell us a little bit about the trail system.
The trail system has terrain for every skier ability including: gentle and rolling trails (green circle), intermediate terrain (blue square), and challenging hills (black diamond). The width of the trails is 16 feet, with grooming for skate and classic technique. Snowshoeing is also encouraged. Every trail is well-marked. Trail maps can be viewed at many locations along the way – ensuring skiers are well-informed of their location. Trail map photographed above.
Dennis Doyon: The trail system is a neat system because it’s about 12 km long, it’s a number of loops. The loops are constructed according to skier ability, so in terms of beginner trails, we’ve got about 8 km and in terms of most difficult Black Diamond trails, we’ve got about 1.5 km. By melding all of that together we can put together either a super easy beginner event or a high-end national-level competition, so it’s a really flexible trail system. It was actually designed for skiing, it’s not an old road.
ECK [to Daniel Murray]: So what makes cross country skiing so awesome?
Daniel Murray is head coach of the provincial cross-country ski team. Murray grew up skiing at North Highlands Nordic. The 2021-22 season marks his 14th consecutive season as provincial coach. Learn more about Murray’s experience skiing and earning the 2020 Bryan Scallion Award.
Daniel Murray: It’s a sport, once you get the basic fitness you can go out for hours, or even a half an hour – you get benefit out of the sport; if you can do skiing you can do almost every other sport.
Are you ready for your lesson?
ECK: Yes, we can’t wait to try it.
Daniel Murray: We’ll have to get you geared up and look after your skis, and we’ll get you out on the trails. [ECK put on equipment.]
We’re going to head up the hill and do the lesson on the flat area. Looks like we have a few provincial team skiers coming to help us with the lesson now.
Starting with the classic skiers. You can see this is the classic technique that most people associate with cross-country skiing. We call that the diagonal stride where you have the opposite legs and arms swinging – and riding the glide.
Ski team athlete demonstrates the classic skiing technique.
The skate technique, as you can see, more push to the side, which is why you have the higher [boot] cuffs and longer poles. When you have nice groomed conditions like this, skate skiing can be really, really nice. It’s a really fun one to do.
Ski team athletes (photographed right, two skiers) and youth (photographed left, two skiers) demonstrate skate skiing technique.
ECK: What do you like to do more skate skiing or classic?
Daniel Murray: I’m a bit of a purist, I really like the classic, because you can do it in most conditions. Skate skiing, when you get nice even conditions like this, love it, nice and fast. I’m a pure cross-country skier, I like it all. If I had to pick one, much like picking ice cream, I would pick the classic.
Do you want to give this a hook?
Daniel Murray: OK. The way I work when I teach most people, is I usually start with the classic technique, okay?
First little trick is we’ll try heading up this track with a diagonal stride. One of the main things is you want to be swinging opposite arms and legs together. When you get to the hills it might be short little steps, when you get to the flatter areas, you can get nice longer strides. The key part of skiing, is when you get better at it, it’s how well you balance on the ski.
ECK: When you’re going down a hill, how would you stop?
Daniel Murray: The snowplow, just like downhill skiing. Where you put in a wedge and have a good flex in the ankle, use the inside of your skis, and then you snowplow to the degree of the ski that you’re going.
ECK: So you mean pizza slice?
Daniel Murray: Exactly.
ECK: What’s that Lucas? [Lucas looking into a mirror on a sign attached to a tree on the trail.]
North Highlands Nordic’s trails are adorned with hand-painted artwork. One example is above, the “Best looking skier on the trails” mirror.
ECK: Apparently, I’m the best looking skier on the trail.
Daniel Murray: Are you starting to feel confident on these skis?
Daniel: You think you’re ready for a race of sorts? Want to team up with some of those kids you saw skiing earlier? How would you like to pick teams?
ECK: We can do rock-paper-scissors to decide the best 2 out of 3. [Liam and Lucas pick teams.]
Daniel: On your mark, get set, go! [Teams race. Cheering.]
Lucas and Liam are off to race!
Receiving high fives from the provincial team athletes.
ECK: Daniel, thank-you so much for having us cross-country skiing today, it was awesome! I’ve never cross-country skied before and I had a great time.
Daniel Murray: That’s so good to hear. Glad to have you boys here and to enjoy Cape Breton winter in all of its glory. See you fellas, good meeting you! [Daniel and the ski team athletes leave.]
ECK: How do we get out of hear? I don’t know! Come back! [ECK leave, skiing after team athletes.]