Central Okanagan snowbirds flock to cross country skis instead of flying south | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central Okanagan snowbirds flock to cross country skis instead of flying south

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November 13, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Cross-country ski memberships are up and ski sales are doing well as more snowbirds flock to shops instead of travelling south amid the pandemic.

Sales have been busy for cross-country and downhill skis this season, said Play It Again Sports co-owner Mike Boback. The store sells various new and used sports equipment and is located in Kelowna.

“Cross country (sales) definitely have been through the roof,” he said.

Snowboard and winter clothing sales have declined a bit compared to last year, because Australians and tourists aren’t around this year due to COVID-19. They tend to be the biggest buyers of winter clothing while locals already have their winter gear at home so they’re seeing less sales. They also like to snowboard, he said.

Locals are more than making up for that dip however, he said.

“We’re seeing a lot of what you would call snowbirds that would normally go down south and now they’re here. Maybe they can’t downhill ski but they cross country. People are looking to do stuff so they just want to make sure they have access to equipment,” Boback said.

READ MORE: How some B.C. snowbirds are getting through the border this winter

At Fresh Air Sports in Kelowna, cross country skis are a hot item, said sales association Andrew Ede.

“It’s a lot, there’s (been an) uptick for sure. I don’t know the percentage, but I know sales have pretty much doubled since last year, even (looking at) our stock, we don’t have the same stock as we did last year,” he said. Cross-country ski supplies are pretty big right now as the season also has an earlier start than the other winter sports, he said.

“But I would say sales on the alpine side of things, especially the backcountry, have been huge as well.”

Thompson Okanagan Search and Rescue teams have been ramping up their efforts to ensure everyone has a safe winter season with the expectation that more residents will be out exploring the backcountry.

READ MORE: Kamloops, Okanagan search and rescue teams prepare for busy backcountry season

Ryland Garton, president of the Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club, said memberships have spiked this ski season with the snowbirds staying home.

It’s too soon to tell how much the numbers have increased compared to last year since sales are ongoing, but Garton thinks the club may see an increase of around 20-30 per cent for the season.

“Right now we’re on track for a big season but it depends on the last month,” he said.

Garton said the trails could be ready as early as this weekend. Last year, the ski club gave out roughly 530 memberships. He expects next year the club will have fewer memberships if the snowbirds are able to head south once more.


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