Jacek Jackiewicz lives 5,000 km from Yellowknife by road. Now he’s the latest unofficial ambassador for the city and its cross-country ski club.
Becoming one of Yellowknife’s farthest-flung skiers was a fluke, Jackiewicz said. For the past 15 years he has been an independent skier with no club affiliation. But when he went to enrol in recent races close to his home in Milton, Ontario, organizers told him he had to represent a club.
“I was asked on the form to select a club I belong to. And of course I didn’t know what to select, and there was no option not to select,” he said.
“The last club on the very end of the list was Yellowknife Ski Club. That was a random choice, I didn’t know anything about the club.”
Knowing about what he termed “long and cruel” northern winters, the last thing Jackiewicz thought Yellowknifers would enjoy is skiing in -35C. After a little research, he was surprised to discover just how many lovers of the sport exist in the city.
He decided to sign up for membership.
When Yellowknife Ski Club president Heather Scott heard of Jackiewicz’s request, she at first thought it might be a spam email. On confirming Jackiewicz was indeed a real person, and a skier, he was welcomed into the club.
“We were enthused for anyone to join the club, whether or not they actually use our trails,” she laughed. “But we thought it was great and kind-of hilarious. Why not join the club?”
Jackiewicz has now paid his annual membership fee, which goes toward the club’s operations and supports its volunteers. He has even sent the club a care package with race swag. “I wanted to somehow contribute to the club by becoming a member and doing some races outside the Northwest Territories,” he said.
The 45-year-old electronic technologist said skiing helps him get outdoors after an active youth in Poland running cross-country.
“It’s perfect for anyone at every age because you can explore a lot of terrain,” Jackiewicz said of skiing. “You can still go fast, you can meet lots of people and talk to them on the trail. It’s very relaxing, because you are alone in the forest with you and your skis.”
Jackiewicz in a submitted photo, with daughters Julia and Natalia, at the 2019 Gatineau Loppet.
Jackiewicz is now preparing for the Gatineau Loppet, a 52-km ski on February 16.
He has put in a request for a Yellowknife Ski Club suit, so he can race in the club outfit, and hopes to visit the city in the next few years.