River Bend Golf and Recreation Area have officially opened their light park. Now, four kilometres of ski trails will be lit for all skiers to enjoy.

The changes made to the course were in preparation for the Canada winter games, but the changes made to the course will benefit a lot of Central Alberta’s recreational athletes as well.

“The Canada winter games were the impetus for the first stage of development here and then that allowed us to procure extra funding to do additional work. Really, the recreation area here has undergone a transformation as a result of winning the bid for Canada winter games four years ago,” said Brian Johnson, race course director at Nordic skiing.

However, there were many different contributions involved in the $400,000 project at River Bend Golf and Recreation Area that went beyond the winter games.

Brian Johnson noted that the project “involved a large donation from Peavey Mart, a government grant, along with some work in kind from volunteers in the community.”

Overall the changes in the course include the lights, but also additional grooming and widening to the pre-existing trails. For skiers, the changes made to the course will make night time skiing a lot safer.

“We have three months of skiing in the dark here. If you have a nine to five job you’re skiing in the dark with a headlamp. Now, you can come out and enjoy well-lit trails. They are safer to use, you can see all the features, and you can see the terrain. Our trails are now wider, we have better-shaped corners, and the hills are a little smoother. It just makes them more interesting, but more importantly more safe,” says Johnson.

Johnson adds “In the past, our hills were very intimidating, they were very narrow twisty hills and a lot of people didn’t want to go out there because it was just too intimidating and in the dark, it was worse.”

The changes made to ski trails will undoubtedly help the beginner skier learn their way around the slopes. Cross country skiing at River Bend Golf and Recreation Area is completely free making it a very budget friendly sport. Of course, that is after the purchase of a set of cross-country skis.

Brian Johnson’s advice to a new skier wanting to check out the lights is, “Get out and enjoy it. Right from the clubhouse, it’s lit from all directions. Follow the lights, ski the trails, they’re wide and safe.”

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