The Fairmont Starlight Challenge has graced the slopes of the Fairmont Ski Hill for the past 28 years, but without participation the competition may be on its last run.
With a registration deadline of January 20 and a start date of February 3, the Starlight Challenge is a unique type of ski and snowboard event, as it doesn’t necessarily always reward the fastest racer. Instead, participants are evaluated based on their consistency between runs. In this sense, the skier isn’t really racing against the other entrants, but rather against themselves.
“I can’t stress enough that it’s not racer versus racer,” Rod Kashuba of Fairmont Ski Hill, and long time participant said. “It’s all about consistency, so if you’re not a very good skier but you enjoy skiing, it’s an event for you as well.”
Participants begin by making a run down an intermediate course, and upon completion, their electronic bib records their time. For the next run down a neighbouring course, the goal then becomes to match your previous time as closely as possible. The event takes place over four Friday nights, and each night prizes are awarded to both the most consistent racers as well as a few of the quickest. At the end of the four weeks, entrants consistency times, or “scores,” are then combined with their three team members consistency scores to create a group score that becomes eligible for group prizes. Each team members’ worst consistency time is also discarded at this point. People may also participate as individuals or pairs, with the option of joining other solo skiers or riders to create a team during the event itself.
Entrants must be 19+, however, parents are encouraged to bring their kids to ski while they record their runs for the evening. There is also no set order for racers, as the runs will begin at around 7 p.m., and entrants may make their run at the same time as anyone else. Snowboarders, telemark skiers and ski-cross participants are also more than welcome.
“Kids are very welcome to night ski while this is going on,” Kashuba said. “That way there’s no need for a babysitter or anything like that—it’s short, it’s fun, and it’s on a Friday night so you still have the whole weekend ahead of you.”
As the event generally runs on Fridays of each year, last year’s change to a Saturday start greatly affected participant turnout, says Kashuba, prompting the switch back to Fridays. Tickets are $89 per person, which covers four nights of skiing from 4 – 9 p.m. each Friday night as well as a banquet dinner the final Friday night, where the final group and individual prizes will be awarded. To register as a team or individually, call the Fairmont Snow School at 250 345 6037.
“It’s a local thing—you know everyone,” Kashuba said. “It’s something to do in the midwinter, and it’s a Fairmont tradition that we’d like to continue.”