As the sun set Monday evening, I skied out into the darkness with only a headlamp to keep me on the trail. I stared across the valley at a string of lights going up the hill of Gaskill Trail surrounding the Snow Mountain Ranch Gaylord Reservoir. It looked like a string of fairies working their way up the hill and around Columbine Point. I suddenly realized this was one of the High School Coaches followed by a group of high school Nordic team skiers practicing after school in the dark. Such dedication to be out after the sun goes down, when the cold starts to bite into your face and make your hands tingle, and the only thing you have to keep you on the trail is a headlamp and trying to follow the skier in front of you. But SMR has enough snow in this crazy year for the kids to comfortably get in miles of Nordic skiing after the sun has set to be ready for their upcoming meets. Some of the meets are against other high schools. Some are Rocky Mountain division competitions against skiers from across the state. Most of the RMN skiers are training with the Winter Park Competition Center and for the first time Nordic Skiers also have their school schedule set as the Alpine skiers to allow them to ski several afternoons a week.
Our kids finally have a full range of learn to ski options even if friends and family do not have the time or ability to train them. Programs are now available in East Grand County to introduce kids to Nordic Skiing at the pre-school level. After school lessons through Granby Recreation Department at Granby Elementary School and through Fraser Valley Metro Rec District at Fraser Elementary School are available January and February for a small fee. Sign up thru the Recreation Departments. Qualified parent volunteers are the heart of these programs where equipment has been provided mainly by Grand Nordic and various grants. The Middle School often has the largest group as another dedicated group of parents coach the kids teaching both fun and technique. The current High School Nordic team is drawing from both newbies and those with years of skiing under their belts.
The best part is that the coaches seem to be working together, whether from Snow Mountain Ranch, Devils Thumb, Winter Park Comp Center or just talented dedicated individuals who work with the kids, share coaching tips, trade equipment from program to program, and do just about anything to give our kids a fighting chance in competition. Sometimes it is competition with each other and sometimes it is competition with self. We have a wealth of talented people as well as the best trail systems in the country. It makes me so proud that we have people who can set their egos aside and come together for such a great cause. Thanks so much to all who share their knowledge by coaching, wax skis, donate or help purchase equipment, groom trails, organize meets, cheer kids on at meets, encourage kids to participate, write stories for the paper or take pictures, transport kids or feed them or keep them warm… we love you all. It indeed takes a village! Visit www.skigrandnordic.org to see the various opportunities for Nordic skiing in Grand county varying from resorts to ranches to available instruction programs to back country skiing opportunities. We have direct links to school and youth programs for further information.
The high school and middle school racers are competing almost every weekend in January and February with their home meet at Snow Mtn Ranch January 27. The Rocky Mtn Nordic skiers have just finished the first Junior Nordic Qualifier Dec 16-17 in Frisco with two more events in January. These qualifiers are a path to the Olympics in Pyeonchang South Korea.
Free Kids Nordic Lessons start January 12 at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA
Free lessons for kids ages 5-10 start Friday January 12 from 1-230pm at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center. The program offers ski instruction for beginners and more accomplished skiers with skiing games, winter nature activities, and lots of fun and runs every Friday through the end of February. The last week February 23 is a Nordic Festival with games, races and prizes for all cortesy of our local merchants. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to lessons to get free equipment and trail pass for the duration of the lesson. Parents are encouraged to help and can also get free equipment and trail pass to ski with the lesson only. Call the Nordic Center at 970-887-2152 x 4173 for further information and to register. Call Grand Nordic 970-887-0547 with other questions.