In The Beginning
Our history begins with the first people to live, eat, and enjoy life in the region. Before the internet, before photography, there was a vibrant local culture that relocated with the seasons to enjoy the best of food and weather. The three lakes in the valley bottom provided fish in the summer and a warm place to build kekuli homes in the winter, taking advantage of the low 400m elevation. The surrounding hills, including SilverStar at 1,915m, offered cooler temperatures in summer along with a cornucopia of berries and deer.
In the 1930's, skiing enthusiasts started exploring the hills around Vernon. After some experiments with lower elevation skiing, SilverStar mountain became the focal point. Carl and Flo Wylie, seen above in the late 1930's near the SilverStar summit, were at the forefront in the era when a skier used the same pair of skis for cross country, alpine, and jumping.
In the 1960's, alpine skiing evolved into a separate sport, with lifts constructed in what is now SilverStar Mountain Resort. Jumping disappeared and cross country faded in prominence until 1974 when the North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club was formed. The NOCCSC hosted their marathons at Stüssi's farm before moving to Sovereign Lake in 1981.
In 2000, NOCCSC changed its name to Sovereign Lake Nordic Club and hosted another World Cup in 2005, made memorable by Beckie Scott's first victory ahead of Marit Bjørgen and Sara Renner.
SLNC has hosted Continental Cup races (one level below the World Cup) most seasons. No Canadian skier has competed at the Olympics without racing on Sovereign trails first.
The 2011 World Masters brought 1,100 skiers to the area and left a legacy including the very popular Carl Wylie trail and the timing building.
The NOCCSC Marathon evolved into the Sovereign Lake Loppet, then shifted to the much less hilly World Masters 15km loop in 2011, and has now evolved again into the two days of Sovereign2SilverStar.
Other nordic events this season are the Canada Cup and BC Winter Games. The new biathlon range will be tested by numerous events as well.
A podium at 1995 Nationals at Sovereign Lake. Beckie Scott (on the left) went on to ski at three Olympics and bring home two medals.
SilverStar Mountain Resort
SilverStar has earned its fame as an alpine destination, but nordic skiing has always been present. Lift-based skiing and mountain biking might take the headlines, but the locals cherish the trails for nordic, snowshoeing, fatbiking and more.
In the 1980's, SilverStar's Norm Crerar worked with Marty Hall to push through trails connecting the two nordic systems to attract the Swedish team for an elevation training camp. Throughout the 1990's, the resort hosted the national team for an annual November ski camp.
The resort built the homologated trails for the 1991 World Cup as they expanded to a 55k system. The gondola (new for 2018/2019) provides a fast way from the village to the top of the mountain. Many families find it is easier to start their day at the top with a spectacular view, especially if some family members are less enthusiastic about skiing uphill.
The S2S Team
A small group of influential skiers kickstarted the latest incarnation of the local ski marathon in early 2021. By April, the Organizing Committee had grown to 20 members. The dream of the two areas working together to invite the world became the central theme for planning.
The event was scheduled for early April to take advantage of the amazing spring skiing and long sunny days. While most racers visit for the December races, our skiing is at its best at the end of March and early April. Most of the locals have moved on to biking and paddle sports down in the valley, which means the trails and lifts are free of crowds and the corduroy stays Instagram perfect for the entire day. And while we can't guarantee hard wax conditions for the classic day, the odds are pretty good.
Worried about whether the team can successfully host our 'first' edition? Ask anyone who has been here for World Cups, World Masters, NorAms, Canada Cups, or any of the previous incarnations of our loppet/marathon over the last forty years.