ski orienteering

march 15, 2009 | Canmore Nordic center

Ski Orienteering (SkiO) is a fun mix of skiing and navigation and route finding. This event, the first of its kind ever at the Canmore Nordic Center, will be a chance for skiers to explore their favorite trails in new ways and for orienteers to enjoy their favorite sport on skis. The event is a "come and try it" event, it is open to all levels of skiing ability, fitness, and orienteering experience.


Mar 15 Results & RouteGadget animations updated
Feb 18 Online registration open using website.
Feb 03 Preliminary information - DRAFT only


You can draw the routes you chose and see the routes others took - just click on the RouteGadget link below. And then you can watch an animation (very cool) of the race.

  Splits times RouteGadget Split Analyzer Photos


Sunday March 15th
  9:00am -  9:30am Clinic Nordic Center Day Lodge
  9:30am - 10:00am Sign-in Nordic Center Day Lodge
10:00am - 11:00am Model race Nordic Center Stadium
10:30am - 11:00am Kids race Nordic Center Stadium
11:00am -  1:00pm Adult race Nordic Center Stadium
1:00pm Awards Nordic Center Day Lodge
2:00pm Course closing  


Register online using website. On-the-day registration will be available, cash only, with only limited number of entries available then.

Categories & Courses

See Technical Details below for course details.

Course Approx length Navigational difficulty Categories
Course 1 1km Very easy Super Juniors (9 & under)
Course 2 3km Easy Juniors (10 - 12)
Course 3 5km Intermediate Youth (13 - 15)
Youth Plus (16 - 19)
Venerable (55+)
Sport solo
Sport team
Course 4 10km Tricky Expert solo
Expert team

Entry Fees & other expenses

You must purchase a Trail Pass or have a valid seasons pass. In addition you must pay a race entry fee. This fee includes the Clinic and all races. And finally, for insurance purposes, you must be a club member - memberships are cheap and can be purchased online (see below).

Race Entry Fees Adults Juniors
(under 20)
Kids race
Race entry (before March 8th) $10 $5 $3
Race entry (after March 8th) $15 $10 $5
Additional team members
(max 3 per team)
$5 $0 $0
SI Card rental $2 $2 $0

Last Minute Registration Disincentive

On-the-day registration is possible, however only a limited number of maps will be available - and the entry cost are WAY higher. Save the anxiety, register online before March 8th.

Cancellation & Refunds

In the event you should cancel your entry, weíll refund 90% if the cancellation is received in writing before March 8th. No refunds will be given after then. If the race is cancelled by the organizers all race fees will be refunded.

Club membership

In order to participate in this event you must belong to the Foothills Wanderers orienteering club or be a member of another Canadian orienteering club or belong to another country's national federation (for insurance purposes). Visit the Foothills Wanderers membership page to sign up. Membership is cheap and all memberships are valid until the end of 2009.

Electronic Punching

All events use electronic timing. There is a small charge of $2/event to rent SportIdent cards if you donít have your own. The use of this equipment will be demonstrated during the clinic.


Skis & clothing
You will need the equipment & clothing that you would normally use skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre. You should carry drink & food for a 1 - 2 hour ski. Classic and skate ski is allowed - no restrictions on technique.

Map Holder
You will need some way to hold your race map. Dedicated ski-orienteers use a specially-designed chest harness that keeps the map visible at all times and allows the map to be rotated. Most people though will either carry the map scrunched up in their hand or devise a homemade map holder. For inspiration, check this idea or this other idea. But please, if you are wearing a string around your neck, please use a lanyard with a safety-release.

Clinic - Introduction to Ski Orienteering

Free clinic in the Day Lodge. No pre-registration required.

This clinic will cover the rules, the map, navigation, route selection, and safety. In addition, it will cover the logistics of the race, including the start, what to do when you arrive at a control, what to do at the finish, and proper use of the timing equipment. No previous orienteering experience necessary.

Race Information

Super important information

First Aid and Emergency


Maps will handed out one minute before a participant's assigned start time. It is up to the competitor to protect the map - we will have clear plastic bags for this purpose available at the start. Legends will not be printed on the maps, but printed legends will be handed out during the clinic.

Control Descriptions

Control descriptions are not used in Ski-orienteering. All control sites are on the trails and are marked on the map with a small red dot. All controls will be easily visible while skiing on the trail.


There is no on-course drinking water. Please keep this in mind and plan accordingly to stay well hydrated.

Electronic timing

The SportIdent (SI) electronic timing system is used for all events. There is no back-up punching in case an SI unit fails. If a unit fails we will endeavor to replace it as soon as possible. Obviously in the spirit of fair play we expect runners not to communicate with other runners about failed devices.

Event details

Saturday Canmore Nordic Center: MTBO
Officials Course planner: Adrian Zissos / Alaric Fish.
Terrain The Canmore Nordic Center has excellent terrain for ski orienteering due to its complex network of trails. It also has lots of elevation gain to provide route choice and a test of fitness and endurance.

All controls are located on the trails. It is allowed to go off the marked trails - though you must have your skis with you at all time (e.g. if you are on top of a bridge and realize the control is underneath, it is allowed to take off your skis and climb down - but you must take the skis with you). Part of the navigation challenge is to decide when it is better to 'short cut' the trail system.
Map 1:5,000 scale with 5m contours for kids race
1:10,000 scale with 5m contours for intermediate courses
1:15,000 scale with 5m contours for the longest course
Drawn to Ski orienteering mapping standards.

To see courses from a mountain bike orienteering event held in the same area visit RouteGadget; the terrain & trail network is the same but keep in mind that the Ski orienteering map will look slightly different.

Green lines - trails regularly groomed for skiing.
Black lines
- summer trails, not usually groomed for skiing.

We have created the ski orienteering map using the existing Mountain Bike orienteering map as the basis.  However we have not made exhaustive checks of our work and it is possible that some groomed trails are not marked properly. It is also possible that some trails we have marked as groomed are not groomed. Trails used in the summer but not groomed for skiing have been marked with black lines. It is possible that some of these can be skied on.
Courses Long - approximate winning time: 45 - 50 minutes
Short - approximate winning time: 20 - 25 minutes

Both courses have intermediate navigational difficult. All controls are on the trails or slightly off them.
Categories See Registration section above.
Prizes Prizes from the local bakery!
Start times Start time:       
10:30am Ė Course 1
11:00am - Courses 2, 3, and 4

Interval starts, assigned at the start line. To get an assigned start time, please report to the start area approximately 15 minutes before race start time.

Course closing: 2:00pm (max time is 120 minutes)
  • One-way trail system must be observed. One-way trails are marked on the map with a purple arrow.
  • Keep in mind that even though you are racing the primary goal is to enjoy yourself and to treat the park and the other park users with complete respect - ski with consideration to everyone else so that we will be welcome guests at the Nordic Centre in the future.
  • You must report to the finish within 2 hours of your start - even if you don't complete your race. This is for your safety - please be sure to report to the finish so that we don't search for you.
Parking --> Assembly area 100m (approx)
Assembly area --> Start 0m
Finish --> Assembly area 0m

Park at the Canmore Nordic Center day lodge.
The clinic is in the day lodge.
Start & Finish are in the stadium.


Q. I've got a question - how do I ask it?
A. Send email to adrian _at_ Or try phoning 403.262.4457.

Q. Is there any childcare organized? Or courses for kids?
A. There is no childcare organized, but we do have courses suitable for kids able to ski 500m with gentle up and down slopes.

Q. What is the difference between SkiO maps and FootO maps?
A. They are very similar - the main differences are with the trails and tracks. Because ski orienteering navigation and route choice depends on the condition of the tracks - how easy to ski and how fast - there are a lot more track symbols. Have a quick look at the SkiO mapping standards and pay particular attention to the trail symbols. Note that we have not been particularly fussy in categorizing trail sizes - we have tended to use the same "wide track" symbol for all trails - but then again, most tracks are wide tracks at the Nordic Center.


Ski orienteering has somewhat different rules and map standards from foot-orienteering.
For good overviews & introductions to ski orienteering visit these links:
* Melbourne Nordic's brief overview of ski orienteering
* Jack and Jill magazine article about ski-O for kids
* Ski orienteering relay - YouTube
* SkiO mapping standards.