The Whaleback Nordic Ski Club originally started out as The Stephenville Ski Club in 1968. The club is a non-profit organization that has provided winter recreation programs, specifically cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to all ages for the past 45 years. Members are mainly from the Bay St. George area, including: Stephenville, Kippens, Stephenville Crossing, Port au Port Peninsula and St. George’s.
The Whaleback Ski Trails are located 4 km from the Town of Stephenville and include 22 km of trails designed for skating and classic skiers of all levels. There is a 2.5km lit trail that is used during the night throughout the week. These trails are also used during the spring, summer and fall for hiking.
The primary goal of the club is to promote fun, fitness and wellness through winter activates. Whaleback currently offers junior development programs through volunteer coaching efforts. Only leaders certified by the National Cross-Country Ski Association are qualified to coach the Bunny Rabbit, Jackrabbit and Track Attack Programs. The Bunny Rabbit program is for children 5 years and younger; the Jackrabbit Program is for children ages 6-9 and Track Attack is for youth between the ages of 10-12. The club currently has no formal program to train, develop and coach young skiers beyond 12 years of age.
In addition to running our own programs, the club also partners with the Biathlon Bears Club, which offers a biathlon program. The 708 Stephenville Royal Canadian Air Cadets also uses the trails to train for biathlon; their teams have had many successes at National Biathlon completions over the years. Whaleback Nordic has an agreement with the College of the North Atlantic Several Bay St. George Campus, allowing students to use the trails for instruction in winter recreation. The club also partners with schools in the area to run a School Ski Program, allowing many children in the region to come to the ski park and try cross-country skiing for the first time.
Whaleback Nordic operates with three paid staff members and more than 50 volunteers who generously donate their time and equipment to trim trails, cut wood and build bridges. The ski chalet is operated entirely by volunteers during the weekdays. Their duties include welcoming visitors and members, issuing day passes and rental equipment and making sure the wood stove is well-stocked.