Sports Flashback: Marchand hill providing challenge for local skiers


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January 31, 1958

This week, after waiting nearly a month for there to be enough snow, half a dozen Steinbach skiers lined up at the top of the Marchand Ski Hill for the first run down the 50-foot ski-run they had helped to create, with a lot of hard work and a minimum investment of cash last year.

The locals had dubbed this, the steepest hill in the Sandilands forest at Marchand, as “Nightmare Hill,” but a group of local skiers treated it as a challenge and spent weeks last fall clearing bush for a ski run, putting in the extra effort to install a ski lift to make the trip up the 50-foot slope just as easy, if somewhat slower, than the trip down.

The idea of creating a downhill skiing facility in the Southeast is just another example of the way recreation facilities are built. An interested group gets together, decides what they would like to see, and then goes about putting in the effort and the funds to see it happen.

It wasn’t all that many years earlier, the La Broquerie Habs hockey club went into the same bush to fell trees to provide the lumber for an indoor hockey rink for the village.

In the case of the Steinbach Ski Club, the situation was somewhat reversed, with a group of ski-enthusiasts heading out to the bush to clear the ski run before organizing a club to raise some money to cover maintenance and add a few amenities, such as the ski-tow.

After many weekends of hard work clearing brush at the Marchand hill, 10 enthusiastic skiers got together to organize the Steinbach Ski Club.

Abe Loewen was elected president of the new organization. Bill Toews was named vice president; Henry Rieger, secretary-treasurer, and Harold Reimer, custodian of equipment.

The members authorized their executive to purchase 400 feet of one and one-quarter inch rope and a seven-horsepower stationary engine for the operation of a ski tow. Much of the preparation work has been completed and the tow could be ready for use before Christmas, members were told.

The engine and rope had been estimated to cost $87 and construction of the tow was completed for less than $200.

Membership rates for the Steinbach Ski Club have been set at $5 for individuals and $7 for families. Fifty cents per day will be charged for the use of the ski tow by non-members.

The Steinbach Ski Club received all the necessary permissions from the provincial government for this project, prior to the formal organizational meeting in December.

By that time most of the clearing and leveling has been done, both on the slope and tow path and on the quarter mile of firebreak from the road to the hill.

The new ski facility was finished and ready to go before the end of the year, but members had to be patient while waiting for more snow.

The first six skiers to test the facility included Johnnie Doerksen, Peter Doerksen, Harold Reimer, Bill Toews, and Edwin Regehr. During their first trip down “Nightmare Hill,” the skiers reached speeds calculated to be more than 35 miles-per-hour.

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