McBride a sled town winner

Dianne St. Jean

After twelve weeks of voting and competition between 16 sledding destinations across Western Canada, McBride has come out on top in the Fourth Annual Sled Town Showdown 2018 of Snoriders magazine.

The McBride win was somewhat foreshadowed, with the sledding community topping destinations like Whistler, Smithers and Sicamous in earlier rounds.

At the end it was a close win, with McBride winning by a slim 21 votes over Carrot Creek.

 “I think it’s great for the town,” says McBride Sledders Club President Vicki Barrett, who is also the owner of The Rusty Iron Salon & Boutique. Barrett and her family moved to McBride last spring, a destination they often visited as sledders before moving there from Alberta.

“Hopefully it increases visits to McBride, and that we can bring more knowledge about what McBride has to offer as a whole.”

Barrett says that they have a fair amount of club members, but because the community is so small, their volunteer base for maintaining the cabins and running everything for the club is about ten or twelve people. Barrett would like to see the numbers grow.

“Anybody interested in getting involved would be more than welcome and appreciated.”

The club has cabins on all three runs (Renshaw, which is the largest mapped snowmobile riding area in the province, Lucille, and Bell), all offering varied levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

“The cabins are all heated, all have barbecues and facilities,” says Barrett. The club is also working on creating a website.

This year’s weather has been poor in regards to sledding, with intervening unseasonable warmth creating hazardous conditions. However, says Barrett, they have a solid base, and safety is just a matter of awareness and taking caution.

“We encourage people to get their training, practice their skill set, and be aware of conditions that are out there.”

Barrett says that in the beginning of January they had about 2000 riders.

The closing of the Giggling Grizzly Pub added a challenge for McBride in keeping sledders in the town. Some now stay in Valemount overnight then travel to McBride to sled, but the fact that they commute back and forth to McBride says a lot about the slopes there.

Some businesses, like The Farmer’s Kitchen on 1st Avenue, provide weekend breakfasts to encourage sledders to stay in the town, opening for a buffet breakfast from 7:00 – 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and the Beanery 2 Bistro and the Heartland restaurant in the Sandman also provide weekend breakfasts.

With a spirit that says ‘Don’t give up’ Barrett and others are hopeful that McBride, as in the sledding competition, will meet and rise above its challenges.

“McBride has a lot to offer,” restates Barrett, and the win in Snoriders is just one example of that.