A skiing success story


submitted by Sarah Herring 
President, Kemptville Winter Trail

If you groom it, they will come.  And come they did – from all across the province.  

On February 23, Kemptville Winter Trail (KeWi), a Nordic ski club, hosted a Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors (CANSI) Level 1 Instructor Preparation Course, followed by a three-day Level 1 Instructor Course. These courses were the first of their kind to be hosted on Kemptville’s public multi-use winter trails, which are located in Ferguson Forest Centre (FFC) and machine-groomed by KeWi volunteers throughout the ski season.

Karen Messenger, who grew up in Kemptville and learned how to ski at FFC with her family, was the lead course conductor.  She was assisted by Paul Graner from North Gower. Since her humble start on skis at the age of three, Karen has gone on to become a top-level instructor, coach, ski racer, biathlete, and ambassador for the sport. She has instructed and raced all over the globe.

“It seemed pretty surreal, having all of these skiers from across the province on my home trails. My heart is so happy that everything came together and it was such a success!  Thank you so much to my family for enabling me to do this, and to the Kemptville Winter Trail Nordic Ski Club who helped make it happen.”

Karen’s motivation for helping develop the ski club comes from wanting to make her late father, Donald Messenger, proud. “He would have loved seeing all of these skiers out here, learning how to teach and inspire others to embrace winter and this awesome sport.”

The Kemptville Winter Trail Nordic Ski Club (KeWi), established in 2021, is run entirely by volunteers. The efforts of the trail groomers during the course was phenomenal.  

“These were the absolute best conditions I have ever seen on these trails. The participants agreed that it was “hero snow”.”

The one-day prep course drew 8 participants, and the three-day Level 1 course attracted 14 participants. Throughout both courses, skiers worked on the own personal technique development in both classic and skate skiing, as well as developing their instructing skills. The three-day course culminated on Sunday, February 26 with the course trainees teaching lessons to local volunteer participants. Members of the KeWi Ski Club were on site with a welcoming tent, warming fire, delicious baked goods and hot apple cider. It was one way of thanking the participants and volunteer students, as well as a fundraising effort for the club.

“I have my mom and three-year old son to thank for the majority of the baking. While I was teaching the courses, they were at home baking.” Thanks goes out to the many club members who also donated baking to the Sunday event.

A big thank you goes out to Alyssa at Brewed Awakenings, who delivered hot lunches daily to the course participants.

Feedback from the courses was all positive and there are already plans in the works to host similar events in the future. The club is now looking into offering ski lessons for kids and adults, in both classic and skate techniques.

Please contact the club if you are interested in becoming a member, volunteering, taking ski lessons, or supporting the continued operation of the trail and development of the club through an e-transfer donation. Their email address is: [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here