Para Nordic

Paranordic Day at GNSCC

Paranordic skier and guideParanordic skier and guide

By Emily Fells                     January 2016

The Georgian Nordic Ski and Canoe Club hosted its first Paranordic Activity Day on Jan. 17.  The morning workshop, “Introduction to Guiding for a Blind Skier”, was put on by Patti Kitler - Cross Country Ontario and the Northern Ontario District Paranordic Chair, Jerry King -a visually impaired athlete and coach at Highlands Nordic, and Ken Norris – CCO Southern Ontario District from Orangeville. They were aided by Linda McLean, Laurentian U nordic coach, Emma Norris – a guide, Rory, a blind Mayfield HS skier, and his guide Chloe, also a Mayfield HS skier. This incredible team introduced 12 GNSCC members, including 5 PSHS Nordic team members and JackRabbit coaches and assistants, to the challenges facing visually impaired skiers, special concerns about clothing and ski equipment, the location of the guide compared to the skier, radio communication devices, and common commands.  The thread that connected every one of these topics was the importance of the guide-skier relationship and the excellent communication.  Jerry King had a few cogent anecdotes that drove this home, including a head on collision with a member of the US ski team who had not realized Jerry could not see him until it was too late.  The true test for the new guides would be applying all the theory and clear commands out on the snow.

Then the guides-in-training were taken out on the trails to practice.  Some were blindfolded being led by a partner. That was the best training as the talk about the importance of timing and precision of directions was put into action.  As a blind-folded skier I felt completely at the mercy of my guide as we went down the small hill to the swamp area. Another guide found that she did not have her usual good sense of balance. It was a long and arduous process as I unwittingly drifted always to the left.  I was startled to be hit by a low snow laden branch (trimming these way up and back is on the GNSCC to do list) that my guide has easily ducked for.  I still cannot imagine how Brian McKeever, a visually impaired Olympic nordic skier and past national team member, could manage to ski down steep descents in a pack of racers at high speed.  He must have had a fabulous relationship with his guide and nerves of steel. Skiing in the track set was much more comforting, but still I needed to hear my guide’s voice often. After switching I learned that there is no time for many fluffy details.  Directions had to be short and sweet to be effective.

Watching and listening to Rory be guided by Chloe was really great.Even though they hadn’t been working together for too long, one could tell the communication was good and the special relationship was growing. Some of the guides-in-training had the experience of guiding a visually impaired skier who was used to being guided.Hannah Culter found that is was very educational. She was impressed how this blind skier put his full trust in her to keep him safe on the trails. It is a steep learning curve.

The final part of the workshop was for the JackRabbit guides to be matched up with their visually impaired skiers, have a visit and then go for a ski together under the supervision of the other experienced guides. The little kids really wanted to get out and ski.  Their guides were a little nervous, understanding that the safety of the skier and the enjoyment of this new sport hinged on the success of this first outing.

Can do!Can do!

No fear!No fear!

The mother of the little girl was nervous watching a newby guide forget to warn the child of the doorjamb, and she stumbled a little but was steadied by her guide.  They managed to get the little one’s skis on together and had a get-to-know-you ski for 20 minutes. Now the visually impaired kids are looking forward to coming to Jack Rabbit and being part of the action on Saturday mornings until March Break. The GNSCC would like to thank the workshop participants for their offering to share their love of skiing with the paranordic skiers who come to our club.  These include Hannah Cutler, Lindsay Raymond, Miranda Cole, Maddy Green, Mackenzie Elwes, Ron Chase, Katja Mathys, Gord Cole, Nicky Dennys, and Heather Zschogner.


Bike Trail Map



Georgian Nordic Bike Trails

bike trail mapbike trail map


Publicity/Beaver Tales annual report 2016/2017

Thanks to so many club supporters and social media, endeavours to “get the word out” about our events, club needs, news and even trail reports seem to be everywhere.

Brochures – In the fall, 1,000 brochures were received from Aqua Graphics in Parry Sound and distributed to 24 high visitor traffic areas in town, plus the Ontario Travel Centre. Mailing of brochures to resorts and other ski clubs has for the most part, been reduced, as prospective trail users go directly to our web site for information. The generic nature (no rates) of these brochures will allow us to use an ample supply of leftovers that should get us through the 2017/2018 season without a new order.

Radio – A successful partnership with the local Moose FM was arranged through Brian Prokopec and Kent Matheson. sponsored regular reports of our trail conditions and upcoming events, encouraging greater use of our facilities. Thanks!

Trail maps – Pocket-size trail maps were purchased with few changes and were scooped up quickly by users at the burrow. It is recommended that before re-ordering, these maps be adjusted by the Visitor Services team working with Get Outdoors Parry Sound to indicate the many changes and new trails in recent years.

Other – New this year was interest from the Hockey News newspaper for articles about our club and what we offer in this community. An article and photos was published and we are invited to continue to submit news.

Thank you to those who have been promoting the club on Facebook, Twitter, our web site (especially Peter Wiltmann) and sending articles to the Parry Sound North Star. Every bit adds up to expand our promotion of the club. We have also promoted events through the local cable station, radio station, newspaper, and Explorers Edge.

Beaver Tales – Thank you to all who contribute news and photos to the monthly Beaver Tales. If you know anyone interested in receiving Beaver Tales, please share or have them subscribe using the Beaver Tales subscriber button in the top right corner at

Website – The club is in need of a website savvy individual to assist with updating our website. This could be as a director on the GNSCC board of directors or simply by volunteering time when available to help out. 

Spreading the word (2015/2016)

Charlene Payerl, Publicity

Peter Wiltmann, Web

This year, our new website has become a major means for increasing the profile of the Georgian Nordic Ski Club and promoting its events, not only to members and local skiers, but particularly anyone outside the area, who might be searching online for cross country ski opportunities. Board directors have been adding content and are constantly discovering new ways the site can improve our ability to connect with current and prospective skiers and members, as well as day users and competitors for our events. The redesign from Sound Software was chosen for its ease of use on mobile devices and across various screen resolutions; its user-friendly navigation; and ability to include social integration. We are hoping skiers got into the habit of checking the site for up-to-date trail conditions, coming events and recent Twitter feeds.

A special thanks goes out to those who have been actively posting news and photos on the Club’s Facebook page.

A GNSCC blog was posted on the Parry Sound Tourism site; events were posted on local events listings; and two ads were placed in the Beacon Star. Brochures at a cost of 25¢ each, were distributed in key locations in town and two large bundles were sent outside the area for distribution. One went to the Ontario Tourism Centre in Barrie and the other went to the Ontario Tourism office in Toronto. The board will consider the feasibility of printed brochures for the upcoming year.

Mid-way through the season, membership in the Ontario Snow Resorts Association was explored. This would entitle our club’s trail conditions to be promoted with those of other OSRA member clubs that we hear on radio and television. Last year the fee was $282.50 for clubs with revenue under $20,000. Strict criteria based on facilities available (parking, washrooms, first aid, trails etc.) must be met to be eligible. It seems a reasonable cost if we want to expand our day-use draw.

Expanding bus trip marketing was not touched on this year, but may be a source of increased revenue.

It would also be great to have someone from the local accommodation sector involved on the board, as a ‘business liaison director’ establishing ski-and-stay packages, and rewarding businesses that promote the club with reduced-cost day passes for their guests.

Charlene Payerl