Friday, 27 December 2013

Activities to check out in Victoria and Vancouver over the holidays

by Keith and Heather Nicol
     We decided to spend the Christmas holidays in the Vancouver-Victoria area of British Columbia and have been enjoying a variety of activities in between visiting friends and family. In Victoria we saw the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit at the Royal B.C. Museum. We saw the 2012 presentation last year in Victoria and were pleased to see it back again with a whole new crop of exceptional images from some of the world’s best wildlife photographers. Of the over 40,000 images reviewed only about 100 make the final cut so you know you are seeing the cream of the crop. This exhibit runs until early April, 2014 so you have lots of time check it out. For more information see:
                                                       Photo by Douglas Seifert, USA
Swimming in front of a dugong in the Red Sea are golden trevallies, riding the pressure waves created by its nose.
The Aquabus heading to Granville Market
      In Vancouver we had a great time riding the Aquabus ferry ( to Granville Market which was full of Christmas gift ideas as well as lots of good things to eat. The Aquabus ferry system plies the waters of False Creek and we hope to get back to see more of this area by ferry. We also had a chance to check out the new FlyOver Canada experience which is located at conveniently located Canada Place. FlyOver Canada is a simulated helicopter flight over some of Canada’s most scenic areas and we were impressed to see many images of Newfoundland starting off the show. The full show is 30 minutes long and showcases many varied aspects of Canada. The simulated flight itself is 8 minutes and is complete with wind, scents and mist. It is geared for all ages and see: for more information.

The helicopter used for filming FlyOver Canada flies over a herd of horses in Alberta

     Our next visit was to VanDusen Gardens ( and their amazing Festival of Lights show. For many people in the Vancouver area this is a must see event and runs from December 11 to January 4. There are almost 1.5 million twinkling lights on display as well as various shows throughout the gardens.  The Festival of Lights starts at 4:30 pm and runs until 9:00 pm and we recommend that you allow 1.5 hours to fully appreciate the lit up gardens. We saw the Festival of Lights on Christmas Eve and it was a real highlight.
The Festival of Lights is well worth seeing


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Try a Supercamp at Sovereign Lake-Silver Star to improve your cross country skiing

By Keith and Heather Nicol
There was lots of top quality Rossignol gear to try
      We just returned from a great Supercamp experience at Canada’s largest cross country ski trail network at the Sovereign Lake-Silver Star Nordic facility located near Vernon, B.C. The main Supercamps ran from November 22 to December 8, 2013 and they included 3 weekend camps and two 5 day mid week camps. These camps are worth looking at for many reasons including: amazing early season snow, well qualified CANSI instructors and coaches and a 105 km long trail system that is well groomed for classic and skate technique. Add to this presentations by waxing experts, access to a well -equipped weight room and high quality Rossignol ski equipment and what more could you ask for? And did I mention that many cross country ski teams use this area for their early season training camps so you are sharing the trails with some of the continent’s best cross country skiers. These camps are geared to everyone from first timers to advanced skiers looking for some new tips . If you want a mid season tune up on your skiing you can still take in 2 more weekend camps which are scheduled for January 17-19, 2014 and February 14-16, 2014. For more information see:
The Supercamps use 105 km of trails at Silver Star and Sovereign Lake
Instruction included lessons in classic and skating technique

Learn waxing tips from industry experts
Be sure to check out the stretching classes

Great early season skiing at Sovereign Lake and Silver Star near Vernon, B.C.

The trees were caked in snow
by Keith and Heather Nicol
      One of the best places in Canada for early season skiing is the Sovereign Lake– Silver Star Nordic trail system. Together they boast 105 km of trails and this year they have been cross country skiing since early November.  We recently spent 10 days at Silver Star Resort skiing both trail systems in late November and early December, 2013 and can’t say enough good things about these trails. This combined trail system is the largest in Canada and are well groomed for classic and skating ski techniques. It was a winter wonderland with the trees caked in snow. Both trail systems have warm up cabins along the way and they make a good place to stop, rest and warm up. Another bonus is that many cross country teams come to this area to train and it is great to be skiing on these trails with some of the fastest skiers in the country. Add to this the stunning scenery of the distant Monashee Range and you have a hard to beat location for cross country skiing. For more information see: and
The wide trail systems are groomed for classic and skate technque

Where else can you x-country ski past restaurants and shops ? 
There are several cabins along the extensive trail system

Racing teams love to use this area as an early season training venue

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Try adding power to your Classic Roller Skiing

by Keith and Heather Nicol
Photo 1- Poles only
Photo 2- Actively swing your recovery leg forward
The diagonal stride is the bread and butter technique in classic roller skiing. Once you have mastered the basics of balance and timing you can add some power to your stride by incorporating some of these tips while you ski. First of all you can get more poling power by feeling a torso crunch as you begin the poling action. Simply using your arms will quickly tire you out so feel a stomach crunch first before using your arms and wrist. You can get a feeling for this by doing this poles only drill as shown in photo 1. I try to drop my upper body slightly as I load my pole and I finish with good arm extension. You can also add power with your legs by not only pushing back strongly with your kick leg but by also actively swinging your new glide leg forward. You can get a feeling of this by doing this variation of the scooter drill. The key is to stop and  then actively swing your recovery foot forward (photo 2) and glide on it (photo 3). Practice this with both the right and left legs and once you are comfortable with it try to incorporate it into your skiing. By adding these elements to your skiing you should be on your way to developing a stronger, more powerful diagonal stride (photo 4) The following video shows examples of these drills and I thank Cross Country Newfoundland and Labrador, Rossignol, Jenex Roller skis and Infinity Ski poles for their help with this video.

Photo 3 - Glide on the new ski

Photo 4 - Putting it all together

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Impressive fall colours along the South Shore of the Bay of Islands

by Keith and Heather
On Sunday, October 20, 2013 we decided to head along the South Shore of the Bay of Islands to see the fall colours.  Previous posts have looked at places to see the autumn splendor in the Humber Valley, but the south shore also has lots of deciduous trees which seem to be at their prime right now. The weather forecast was not ideal but we decided that the clouds and showers weren’t likely to be bad enough to stop from checking out a few favourite stops along the way. We stopped at Frenchman’s Cove to take photos of the fishing boats and then decided to take the turn off to the Humber Arm South Day Park. We hadn’t been to this area in some time and it turned out to be an ideal place for photos of the Blow me down Mountains and Wood’s Island.  The day park has a lookout platform with telescope, children’s playground equipment and a couple of picnic tables. What a pleasant surprise to find this spot with its impressive views.
The Humber Arm South Day Park is a must see stop along the south shore

Blow me down Mountain had clouds swirling around the summit
 From there we headed to the well marked Coppermine Cape hiking trail parking lot which is a few kilometers further along the road toward York Harbour. The top of the mountains had clouds swirling along the ridge tops and the large stands of birch had turned the steep slopes a brilliant yellow. Our destination on this day was to hike to a scenic waterfall which is just 500 meters from the parking lot and is another hidden gem that in this area. The trail is mostly level and suited to all ages and abilities. This parking lot is also the staging grounds for one of the best hikes in the province in our opinion but the Copper Mine Cape trail would have to wait for another day when visibility was better on the mountain tops and we had more time. We also met a couple from St. John's who said they love travelling to this area in the fall since the autumn colours are so vibrant and the scenery is so captivating. We had to agree with them and counted ourselves lucky to have this on our doorstep just a 45 minute drive from Corner Brook. The fall colours seem to be lasting longer this October so be sure to head and enjoy them. 
The waterfall trail is suited to all ages and stages.