Tag Archive | "recreation"

TBN Cross Country Ski Schedule

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November 09, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – The Toronto Bicycling Network (TBN) Cross Country Ski program is aimed at the recreational skier, so come on out and participate in this wonderfully invigorating winter activity. Some of the trips offer a snowshoe option as well.

You will travel in a warm and comfortable coach in which you can relax, forget about the driving, and meet other skiers. Whether you are a long-time TBN member, or a newcomer, come out and join us!

– Sun., Dec. 30, 2012 – Hardwood Hills
– Sat., Jan. 5, 2013 – Horseshoe Valley Resort
– Sun., Jan. 13 – Wasaga Nordic, Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
– Sun., Jan. 20 – Mansfield Outdoor Centre
– Sat., Jan. 26 – Highland Nordic
– Sat., Feb. 2 – Horseshoe Valley Resort
– Sun., Feb. 10 – Wasaga Nordic, Wasaga Provincial Park
– Sun., Feb. 24 – Mansfield Outdoor Center
– Sat., Mar. 2 – Horseshoe Valley Resort
– Sun., Mar. 10 – Hardwood Hills
– Sat., Mar. 18 – Highlands Nordic

Sat. Pickups: Victoria Park 8:00 AM; Yonge/York Mills 8:20 AM; Hwy 400/Major MacKenzie Carpool 8:40 AM.
Sun. Pickups: Victoria Park TTC lot on Victoria Park at Denton Ave. 8:00 AM; Yonge and Asquith Ave, Metro Library 8:20 AM; Yonge/Eglinton in front of Tim Hortons 8:30 AM; Yonge/York Mills TTC 8:40 AM, Hwy 400/Major Mac Carpool 9:00 AM.

Two special geteway weekend trips are also planned, with transportation arranged via car pool
– Feb. 8-10 – Wanakita Resort Ski Weekend
– Feb. 15-18 – Arrowhead Provincial Park Ski Weekend

Go to www.tbn.ca for details or contact xcski@tbn.ca

The Life and Times of John Frado

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August 19, 2012 – Nordic Group International has posted a wonderful video that was shown at John Frado’s Last Hurrah celebration on July 30. John had more than 30 years of experience in recreation planning, with special expertise in multi-use trail and facility design and construction.

As a recreation planner for Northeast Utilities, he designed and operated the award-winning trail system and environmental education center at Northfield Mountain, Massachusetts. Since joining Nordic Group International in 1985, he had been involved with more than 120 trail, resort, and park projects in the U.S. and Canada. His work at Great Glen Trails in New Hampshire won international acclaim for a state-of-the-art trail lodge and trail system.

John was a Founder and Director Emeritus of Cross Country Ski Areas Association and was instrumental in developing the National Ski Patrol’s Nordic Division.

Thank you Hilary for creating the video. John would’ve loved it!

Watch the video HERE.

West Yellowstone 33rd Annual Rendezvous Race / Youth Ski Festival – Mar. 3-4

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February 22, 2012 (West Yellowstone, MT) – Snow is falling in West Yellowstone, Montana, and skiers of all ages are invited to participate in the 33rd annual Yellowstone Rendezvous Race on March 3, 2012. Race organizers have been busy marking the course and making final preparations for the event. The skiing has been great all winter.

Part of the American Ski Marathon Series, the Yellowstone Rendezvous Race is a cornerstone of cross-country skiing in West Yellowstone. Join hundreds of ski enthusiasts in this historic race. This year the race is proud to once again have Yellowstone National Park Lodges as its corporate sponsor. There are six different race divisions offered for skiers of all ages. Marathoners can enter the 50 kilometer freestyle race, which consists of two laps around the perimeter of the Rendezvous Ski Trail system. Racers can enter the 25 kilometer classic or freestyle events, and the 10 kilometer race is a great choice for those preferring a shorter distance. The 5k and 2k races are geared for kids.

Register before February 27th to save on entry. Race registration deadline is Thursday March 1st at 12 noon. Please visit www.rendezvousrace.com for more information, and find us on facebook for the latest updates on the race.

On Sunday, March 4th, the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation will host their annual Youth Ski Festival where kids 13 and under can participate in a variety of ski games including relays, musical chairs and more! Bring the family and experience winter this year. Day-of registration. Please visit www.rendezvousskitrials.com for more information.

Canadian Ski Marathon 2012 – Feb. 11-12 Register Now!

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January 31, 2012 (Montebello, ON) – I am very proud to report that despite recent freezing rain and warm weather, the traditional trail – Gatineau-Montebello-Lachute – is in excellent condition. The full trail has been groomed creating a hard base with some parts of the trail boasting 45cm of snow.

… With plenty of snow expected in the forecast, groomers will do another pass next week to further pack down the trail for optimal conditions during the marathon. Other updates to the trail include;

– Section 7: Thanks to the generosity of the land owners east of St. Sixte, the trail is back in the fields, thereby avoiding the 2 km of skiing the sandy, salty snow bank along highway 317.

– Section 6: The Highway 50 underpass west of Montebello has been completed, eliminating the need to cross any autoroute construction sites.

– Section 5: The rocky pieces of trail north of Montebello, especially notorious in the last 2 years, has been completely rebuilt using a hydraulic shovel. The ups and downs are still there, but the rocks are gone and the previous hair raising turns are much safer.

– Section 4: The trail has been relocated to avoid the hill with the hairpin turn going down to the Kinonge River valley. It is still a big hill, but with sweeping turns and a new wide bridge at the bottom.

Plans are already in the works for more trail improvements in 2013 so we can all test our personal limits on a challenging, but safe, trail.

We are also happy to announce that CSM Section 5 (Montebello to Kanauk) is open now for people to try out before the marathon. You can pick up passes at the Hotel Ski Shop.

Finally, please reach out to all unregistered skiers who may be sitting on the fence. Don’t let the “It didn’t or I didn’t(s)” stop them from having an incredible February CSM experience.

Help us fill up the Montebello with sweaty skiers telling amazing CSM stories – don’t wait, book your Montebello room today!


Bill Syrros
President, CSM

14th Annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon Recap – Naryshkina, Ocariz, Brothers and Niemi Top Podiums

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January 31, 2012 (Marquette, MI) – Nearly 1,400 participants took part in the 14th annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon presented by Marquette General Health Systems. The headline event – the 50km classic – started in Ishpeming, home of the National Ski Hall of Fame. It was Santi Ocariz (CXC) who crossed the line first in Marquette after 2:31:20.9. In the women’s competition, Natalia Naryshkina won with a time of 2:56:34.9.

Michael Brothers (Alpina/Madshus) logged the fastest 50km freestyle in 2:20:35.5, while Paulette Niemi collected the women’s crown in 2:41:00.4.

Skiers also had opportunities to test themselves over shorter distances, such as the Bank Half-Marathon, a 24km race that uses the second half of the Noquemanon course, sharing the finish line outside of the Superior Dome. Andrew Bruning (CHS Boys) and Monica Markvardsen (NMU Ski Team) won the men’s and women’s 24k freestyle races, respectively, while classic counterparts Erik Soderman and Jordyn Ross, both from NMU Ski Team as well, took top spots in their categories.

Full results HERE.

First FIS World Snow Day: 225 Events in 39 Countries

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January 11, 2012 – January 1, 2012 marked the milestone of just three weeks to go until the largest winter event in the world. The inaugural FIS World Snow Day, set to be held on January 22, 2012, aims to bring children between four and fourteen – together with their families – to the slopes, trails and tracks, in a fun-filled day of events, activities and competitions on snow.

The inaugural World Snow Day will consist of 225 events in 39 countries.

The initiative falls under FIS’s ‘Bring Children to the Snow’ campaign, which was launched in 2007 and celebrates winter sports as a fun, healthy and social recreation activity for children of all fitness levels and capabilities. The World Snow Day 2012 will be the first event to be conducted on a global scale, joining the worldwide community in celebrating snow sports as part of a healthy lifestyle, and to foster global awareness of the importance of nurturing the natural environment.

With such as large number of events as part of World Snow Day, the variety is also extensive. Some examples include a winter wonderland in the heart of Tokyo; free ski and snowboard lessons across Poland; the Snow and Ice Festival in China; free skiing and snowboarding for kids under 12 in Lake Louise, Canada; Winter Sports Festival in Lake Placid USA; free ski and snowboard lessons India; and a world record attempt in La Molina, Spain.

Countries participating include America, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Japan, Iceland, Australia, Russia and Spain, amongst others. The event’s motto to ‘Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Snow’ will be consistently shared across the world, whilst the worldwide festivities will adhere to the unique identity of each location.

From the 1st January 2012, FIS will also be partnering with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Eurosport and Infront Sports & Media to broadcast a World Snow Day TV trailer across the globe. In addition, a virtual World Snow Day promotional campaign has been launched where activities will be featured on the various FIS websites and social media channels for the final days leading into the inaugural event.

For more information on World Snow Day please visit www.world-snow-day.com

The 33rd Annual Rendezvous Race Set for Mar. 3

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January 03, 2012 (West Yellowstone, MT) – The Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone, Mont. are in great shape with the entire trail system groomed for both skate and classic skiing. Elevation and natural snowfall have been our friends this season, and skiers here have been spoiled with fantastic, mid-winter conditions all season.

Make plans now to enjoy some of the best skiing in the world, and mark your calendars for the 33rd annual Yellowstone Rendezvous Race, on March 3, 2012, sponsored by Yellowstone National Park Lodges.

The Yellowstone Rendezvous Race is a cornerstone of cross-country skiing in West Yellowstone, and is part of the American Ski Marathon Series. There are six different races offered for skiers of all ages. Marathoners can enter the 50 kilometer freestyle race, which consists of two laps around the perimeter of the Rendezvous Ski Trail system. Racers can enter the 25 kilometer events under classic or freestyle technique, with the 10k as a great choice for those preferring a shorter distance. The 5k and 2k races are geared for kids… bring the whole family!

The Rendezvous Race is a fun, festive event in a unique location. The camaraderie at the start is evident and follows racers along the course. To support racers in the 25 or 50k division, local community groups staff feed stations along the trails, and the theme this year is “Pirates”. Look for eye patches, hooks, hats, and of course, treasure. Bragging rights are on the line. Racers vote for their favorite feed station and the winners gloat for the rest of the year.

For most skiers, crossing the finish line is the goal. The fastest skiers will be rewarded with medals and cash prizes at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening. All racers are invited to treat themselves to the complimentary desert bar at the Holiday Inn after the race.

For more information, please visit www.rendezvousrace.com.

Minocqua Couple Donates Millions to Protect XC Skiing

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December 28, 2011 (Minocqua, WI) – A couple from Minocqua, WI bought over 3,200 acres of land near their home and donated it to the Northwoods Land Trust with the goal of preserving the land for recreational use reports myFOXwausau.com. The couple has a long family history of recreating on the land from biking and hiking, to cross-country skiing – read the full article HERE.

Chama Chile Ski Classic – Jan. 14-16

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December 27, 2011 (Chama, NM) – Come out and play in the snow at the Chama Chile Ski Classic, January 14-16, 2012 over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Chama, NM! There will be 3 days of fun for everyone and 7 cross-country ski and snowshoe races! This winter event is held in the charming, quaint Village of Chama and the races are held on the Rio Grande National Forest between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. There’s everything from Freestyle and Classic style cross-country ski races and a snowshoe race to family events and a chile/chili contest, where you can taste some of Northern New Mexico’s best family recipes.

Families can take advantage of the Classic Cross-country Ski Techniques Clinic (there will be 4 instructors for beginner to advanced), broom hockey and Frisbee golf for the kids, and some of the ski/snowshoe/yurt tours being offered over the weekend. For even more fun, there will be a costume contest and snow sculptures at the ski race site.

In the evenings, there will be live music and beer tasting at the High Country Restaurant in Chama. Gary Gorrence from Pecos, NM will be playing on Friday, January 13th with his own style of country and southwestern rock. The Muddy Mountain Orchestra from Taos, NM will be playing Irish, rock-n-roll blues and bluegrass on Saturday, January 14th and the Porchlights from Dolores, CO will be returning with their original, “rocking acoustical mayhem”. Both the Saturday and Sunday bands will be playing before and after the Awards Ceremonies each evening.

For more information, on the weekend schedule and registration go to www.chamaski.com or call 575-756-2294 or email chiliskiclassic@yahoo.com.

For athletes, there are 2 days of cross-country ski and snowshoe races. On Saturday, January 14th there will be both a 7.5K and 15K Freestyle Cross-Country Ski race. On Sunday, January 15th, there will be 5K and 10K Classic Style Cross-Country Ski races and a 5 K Snowshoe race. Those who need more of a challenge can enter the combined 5K Ski/5K Snowshoe Race or the 10K Ski/5K Snowshoe Race. Skiers can also “go retro” in the wooden ski category or enter a team in the 5K Classic XC ski race.

More advanced skiers and racers, can take advantage of the Telemark Skiing Clinic, Classic Style XC Skiing Techniques Clinic and Ski Waxing Clinic.

A Restorative Yoga class is being offered by Steve Ilg with High Performance Yoga on Saturday afternoon to help all skiers unwind from the day’s activities and prepare for the next day of races.

For the skier or snowshoer who doesn’t want to compete, there will be a guided XC ski/snowshoe tour to the Sargent’s Wildlife Area (now groomed for XC skiing & snowshoeing) and tours to a couple of the yurts located in the South San Juan Mountains near Chama. After the races on Sunday, everyone is welcome to ski the race course.

An Avalanche Rescue Techniques Clinic offered on Saturday, January 14th in the afternoon, is a must for skiers and snowmobilers who venture onto snowy, mountainous terrain.

The races and many of the events are held on the Rio Grande National Forest through a special use permit.
For more information go to www.chamaski.com or call 575-756

Thank you for supporting the CCSC.

Crescent Lake Challenge Jan. 15 – Registration Open

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December 20, 2011 (Crescent Lake, OR) – Registration for the Crescent Lake Challenge freestyle ski race and citizen tour, set for Sunday, January 15, 2012, is now open. The event, which takes place on a 22km course on the groomed trails and rolling hills around scenic Crescent Lake, Oregon, in the central Cascades is popular, and due to limited space in the lodge for the free hot lunch, entries are limited to 120 skiers.

Organizers are adding a classic track set (conditions permitting). All levels of skiers are welcome but be prepared to ski 14 miles.

Start Time: 10 am Sunday, January 15th

Learn more and sign up HERE.

Snow in Time for Yellowstone Ski Festival – Nov. 22-26

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November 10, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – Light snow is falling outside and the forecast is calling for more. The Rendezvous Ski Trails are covered and the South Plateau is looking good. A few more inches and the trails in town will be rolled, groomed, and ready for the Yellowstone Ski Festival. There are two weeks to go and almost all of them have a snowflake in the forecast.

With the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival in sight, the final details are wrapping up. It is not too late to register for a clinic. Consider a three or five day Nordic clinic to start the ski season off right. Or a one or two day to fit your holiday schedule. Take in an early season race. There are six different races at this year’s ski festival. Online registration is available now. Sign up by Thursday, November 17 to avoid late fees. Check out the schedule of events. Enjoy an array of wax clinics, movies, classes, and presentations. The schedule is updated constantly, so check back often. The Indoor Expo is packed with all things Nordic and free of charge. Visit with those in the know from Rossignol, Salomon, Fischer, Toko, Atomic, Fast Wax, Madshus, Swix, Solda, the National Nordic Foundation, National Guard Biathlon, Sun Valley Nordic Ski Club, Concept 2, Boulder Nordic Sport, SkiFast Ergometer, Cross Country Skier, Ski Trax, Master Skier, and the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation. Fill in your wish list at the On-Snow Demo- Your ski pass allows you full access to demo gear on the trails. Be sure to schedule some time so you can sample the latest and greatest from Alpina, Atomic, Fast Wax, Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, Salomon, and Swix.

Join us for keynote speaker Conrad Anker, catch a fashion show, and win great prizes at the annual WYSEF Raffle, all at the Holiday Inn, Yellowstone Ski Festival’s event headquarters.

Enjoy your First Tracks in West Yellowstone. Whether First Tracks truly means the corduroy and you, or it is the first time on skis this season, or the first time on skis period; you are invited to take them at the Yellowstone Ski Festival. Think Snow and make plans now to attend the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival. For more information, visit www.yellowstoneskifestival.com and follow westyellxcski on Twitter, or friend Yellowstone Ski Fest on Facebook for up-to-minute news.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre Trails Open

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November 10, 2011 (Vernon, BC) – Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre opens its trails Thursday, November 10th to cross country skiers from across North America coming to enjoy the early season snow.

We have 20km of trails open including many favourites; Carl Wylie, Passmore, World Cup and the Stadium. This varied terrain is great for everyone,” said Scott Lemon, General manager.

The lodge is open daily for trail passes, rentals, lessons, snacks and more.

Glenn Bond, the new Club and Guest Services manager to Sovereign Lake said, “Cross Country Skiing has been growing in popularity in recent years. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the sun and is also well known for health and fitness benefits.”

“The trails at Sovereign Lake are so much fun, it is like skiing a roller coaster with a smile ear to ear,” said Bond.

“It’s going to be a great season,” said Lemon. “We have done lots of work preparing the trails for early skiing and our cross country ski camps start in less than two weeks. We look forward to welcoming participants from all over North America as they take part in the weekend and five day camps.”

For more details visit www.sovereignlake.com or contact the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre at 250-558-3036 ext 203.

Silver Star Nordic Opening – Nov. 11

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November 05, 2011 (Silverstar Mountain, BC) – With our official Nordic Opening now just a week away, I thought it a good idea to pass a long some timely and good news about our upcoming Cross Country Camps.

Accommodation Promo Extended until Dec. 2
We are extending our 20% off promotion on your on-mountain accommodation until December 2nd when you book your Silver Star Mountain Cross Country Camp. Based on an average two person stay this means anywhere from a $50 savings on accommodation when booking your Weekend Warrior Camp (2 days) to over a $200 savings on your on-mountain accommodation when booking your Go the Distance Camp (5 days.) This is something to smile about!

Win a complete Rossignol Skate or Classic Package!
All Silver Star Cross Country Camps registrants are eligible to win a complete Rossignol Skate or Classic Package when using their “Camp Reward Card” at The Den Bistro & Bar on Silver Star. Who would ever think eating & drinking could be this good.

Hats off to our cross country camp supporters Halti, Fischer, Swix, Rossignol, SkiTrax, Cross Country Skier, Sauce Headwear, Fast & Female, Village Ski Shop (formerly Valhalla Pure) for providing some great prizes as well as gifts for our valued (and hardworking) cross country campers!

Great Après Skiing Events
Après Skiing Events will be happening throughout all of our Weekend Warrior & Go the Distance Camps. Some notable après ski events for Silver Star Cross Country Camp participants will be SSASS Skier’s Gala Ball & Silent Auction (November 26th. Order tickets in advance @ 250.260.3737) Art of Flight Movie Premiere (NATC – November 25th. Purchase tickets @ the Ticket Office) “Grand Frosto” Village Bike Races ( December 2nd & December 3rd. Register at Guest Services Desk in Village Center) Swix Wax Workshops (November 22nd, 26th, 29th, December 3rd.)

Snow, snow, snow and more is scheduled for early next week. All of our Upper Trails have been rolled and now await the next snowfall. We are confident we will have good early season trail conditions for November 11th. Leaving from our village today for some “snow inspection” I must say it was nice to have the wind in my face again.

Our great team of coaches and grooming staff look forward to seeing you back at our camps. Don’t delay and register today with our convenient Silver Star Holiday Team at info@skisilverstar.com / 1-800-663-4431 / 250-558-6083

Fast and Female Visits Fairbanks, Alaska

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November 01, 2011 (Fairbanks, AK) – As a young girl, Fairbanks’ Becca Rorabaugh had the opportunity to cross paths with Beckie Scott – the first Canadian and first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing with gold at the Salt Lake City games and silver at the 2006 Games in the team sprint with Sara Renner.

“North American elite skiers once did early season training in Fairbanks, and when I was about 10 years old I was lucky enough to meet Becky Scott,” explained Rorabaugh. “Basically the only words we exchanged were “Hi! My name is Becca too!”, but the inspiration of meeting her steered me to aim for the Olympics,” recalled the enthusiastic athlete.

Twelve years later, Rorabaugh, who is now 22 and an aspiring Olympian in cross-country skiing, took it upon herself to host a Fast and Female event in the hope of recreating this same magic for the next generation of Fairbanks racers.

On the eve of Halloween, Rorabaugh fulfilled her vision. Teaming up with APU Nordic Ski Center teammates and Olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks, she hosted more than 50 young female skiers ages 9 to 19 for the first ever Fast and Female Fairbanks event.

On this special occasion, the Fairbanks Nordic Ski Club saw a sea of girls in pink take part in cross-country ski drills, yoga, motivational presentations and a poster signing session – all led by Rorabaugh, Randall, and Brooks.

“Many of the girls seemed to really enjoy and absorb some great technique pointers from our experienced Ambassadors,” specified Randall, lead Fast and Female ambassador in the US and double World Cup winner on the Cross-country circuit in 2011.

“Some of the highlights for me were watching the swirl of neon colors, and especially the pink, zing around the four ski stations and then watching everyone synchronized in the warrior II pose during the yoga session,” added Randall, a full-time World Cup athlete who has already hosted three Fast and Female events in her hometown of Anchorage over the past three years.

Rorabaugh knew she accomplished her goal as girls left the event with huge smiles on their faces and a renewed sense of commitment to their own Olympic dreams.

“Kaya, Zoe and I REALLY got a lot out of it,” confirmed mom and volunteer Kim Troxel in an email following the event. “We all feel energized to go for it with skiing and running! These types of opportunities make a huge difference in girls’ (and women’s) lives so THANK YOU,” she concluded.

This activity was made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as the presenting sponsor – SBS Retirement Consultants LLC, as well as the Fairbanks Nordic Ski Club, Bettisworth North, Lulu’s Bread & Bagels, Equinox Physical Therapy, Martha Hanlon Architects, Fairbanks Cancer Treatment Center, Beaver Sports, Challenge Life Racing and Goldstream Sports.

“I can only hope that today’s event might have a similar affect for the next generation of girls, and I am proud to have helped bring it to Fairbanks,” added Rorabaugh who will soon kick off a busy season of racing. “The community response was incredible and I am very thankful that so many businesses and volunteers were so generous. Fairbanks certainly embraced the Fast and Female mission with open arms,” she concluded.

Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, LUNA Bars, and LIT Glitter – also provided key resources to making this event possible.

The next Fast and Female youth event will be the December 3 Alpine day held in conjunction with Alberta Alpine’s Legends Club in Canmore and Lake Louise, Alberta. For more information about this event, visit: www.fastandfemale.com

What’s New at the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival – Nov. 22-26

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October 31, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – With the temperature well below freezing in West Yellowstone last night and five inches of snow above 8,000 feet, planning for the 2011 Yellowstone Ski Festival is in full swing. We would like to welcome back our old friends and invite new cross-country ski enthusiasts to the first Nordic Festival of the season. There is something for everyone this year, and we are excited to announce many new additions.

– New Trails: Over three miles have been added to the Rendezvous Ski Trails this year, along with new signs, trail maps, and a brand new biathlon range.
– Two-Day Kids Ski Clinic: The Yellowstone Ski Festival and Lone Mountain Ranch have partnered to offer a ski-specific kids clinic on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Grade K-2nd clinics will focus on the “Fun”damentals of classic skiing, and 3rd-6th graders will have both classic and skate options.
– Fresh off of another first ascent, Legendary Mountaineer Conrad Anker will be delivering the keynote address on Friday evening, Nov. 25, at the Holiday Inn, Yellowstone Ski Festival Headquarters.
– Adaptive Sit Ski and Biathlon Clinic. Eagle Mount in Bozeman, Mont., the Casper Mountain Biathlon Club (Casper, Wyo.), and the Yellowstone Ski Festival have joined to provide a FREE clinic to adaptive athletes on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
– Fashion Show: Wednesday evening, Nov. 23, will feature a Fall harvest Tapas and Tasting, followed by the first ever Yellowstone Ski Festival Fashion show, featuring the latest in styles from leading ski clothing manufacturers.

The Yellowstone Ski Festival will also welcome back the major ski manufacturers as well as a few new companies to the On-Snow Nordic Gear Demo and Indoor Nordic Expo. Online registration is now open for six different races for competitive skiers, and the Nordic clinics will present five, three, and one day courses, including a women’s only and junior clinic option.

Discounted month-of-November trail passes are available until Oct. 31. Order yours today and save 20 percent. Book your lodging now for the best availability. Many hotels, motels, condos and houses are still available over Thanksgiving week. Contact the chamber for a list of properties. If you are flying into Bozeman and do not want to rent a car, let Big Sky Taxi or Karst Stage do the driving. Register for a clinic. Many of the popular clinics will fill on a first come first served basis, so sign-up online today!

For more information about all the events at the Yellowstone Ski Festival visit our website at www.yellowstoneskifestival.com.

Traverse City to Host 2012 Masters National Nordic Ski Championships

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October 24, 2011 (Traverse City, MI) – Over 900 cross-country skiers from around the U.S. and Canada competed last winter at Traverse City’s North American Vasa Festival of Races. And organizers expect hundreds more to attend the 2012 festival – which has been named the host event for the AXCS Masters National Championships.

“We’re going to have all the excitement of a national race, lots of additional skiers, and the opportunity for our competitors to win placement in the world championships in Germany,” said Vasa Board Member and chief-of-course Michael Tarnow. “Best of all, this is helping us to promote the sport and skiing in Northern Michigan to a whole new group of people.”

The AXCS (American Cross-Country Skiers) National Masters is North America’s championship event for master skiers (over 30 years in age) and is hosted each year by a different race. Recent venues include Anchorage, Alaska; Bend, Oregon; Craftsbury, Vermont and St. Paul, Minnesota. Vasa officials say it’s the perfect fit for Traverse City.

Founded by two Traverse City dads who were trying to teach their kids to ski — Swedish-American hotelier Ted Okerstrom and former Yugoslav Olympic skier Vojin Baic – the Vasa is now in its 36th year. It’s held each February, and the 2012 event is scheduled for Feb. 10-12.

The main Saturday race, which features 12K, 27K and 50K race lengths, in either freestyle or classic styles, is part of the prestigious American Ski Marathon Series, where most of the nation’s elite and professional ski racers compete. Sunday’s 6K and 16K traditional-style classic only race, the Gran Travers Classic, is an equally prestigious event for old-school Nordic skiers, and one of the events in the Michigan Cup classic race series.

Over the past decade, race organizers have added a wide range of other events for skiers of all shapes, ages and skill levels: 1K sprints for preschoolers, 3K freestyle and classic events for older youths, and even noncompetitive 3K and 10K tours for those who prefer to enjoy winter’s natural beauty at a more leisurely pace. A highlight of the festival is the popular Valentine’s Tour, which take place on Sunday afternoon after all the competitive events have ended

And there’s a lot of beauty to appreciate. The Vasa is held on a beautifully crafted trail that winds through the dense pines and hardwoods of the Pere Marquette State Forest. In addition to the hundreds of skiers who actually head out on the trails, hundreds of spectators come to watch the race and enjoy the festivities that surround it.

“All our races are done at the speed of fun,” says Tarnow. “We try to encourage skiers to work at their own pace.”

That’s exactly the kind of experience the AXCS National Masters Championship tries to foster. Unlike many elite races, the Masters is open to skiers of all abilities. No qualification or license of any kind is necessary; it’s “one of those special events where skiers ranging from experts to complete novices can all participate together…and everyone has a great time.”

A new event for 2012 will be the Great Lakes Youth Ski Festival, where junior skiers (ages 4-14) from the five Great Lakes states will compete in a variety of races and enjoy other fun activities. Special shorter courses will be used for all the kid’s events.

The festival actually begins the day before the main race with registration, social time, and the opportunity for everyone to work-out their travel kinks on the groomed trails. That evening, there’s an annual “Vasa Pasta” dinner, an all-you-can-eat event where contestants try to pack away as many carbohydrates as possible. The Baic family tradition is one plate of pasta for every 10k of race length.

The Vasa may be Traverse City’s best-known winter event, but it is by no means the only one. The dense forests, towering hills and stunning shoreline views that make this a favorite summer resort area also lure thousands of visitors here each winter for skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and other cold-weather sports.

On January 7, for instance, is Winter Trails Day, a national day encouraging use of winter trails. Free rental skis, snowshoes and group lessons are being offered at Timber Ridge RV Resort near Traverse City with access to the Vasa Trail system.

Also, on Feb. 4 yet another major Nordic ski race is held a few miles to the north in the picturesque village of Mancelona, near the Shanty Creek Resort & Club. Known as the White Pine Stampede, it, too, is celebrating its 36st anniversary in 2012 with a series of 10K, 20K and 50K races.

For registration and information about the North American Vasa, go to www.vasa.org. To learn about the White Pine Stampede and other winter events, festivals and activities in beautiful Traverse City, call the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-TRAVERSE or visit their Web site at www.traversecity.com

One-Day Season Pass Sale at Historic Black Mountain of Maine – Oct. 22

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October 21, 2011 (Rumford, ME) – On Saturday, October 22, Black Mountain of Maine will be holding its annual one-day season pass sale. Season passes are only $195 with no black-out dates. The one-day season pass sale is part of Black Mountain’s Octoberfest – a daylong celebration of the changing seasons at the Rumford ski area.

Billed as the “Early-Early Bird Special,” the $195 pass price is available only on Saturday, October 22 at the mountain. For a family, the first two passes are $195 with each additional pass just $95. This allows a family of four to ski all season long for less than $600, which is approximately half the price of an individual season pass at many New England resorts.

Other events during Octoberfest include:
– Ski Swap from 8:00am – 12:00pm
– Meet the Black Mountain Race Program Coaches: Julie Parisien, Tim LaVallee and Mark Thibodeau
– Register for Black Mountain Race Program and Ski School
– Silent Auction to benefit the “Need to Ski” Program
– Dinner & Beer Tasting featuring beverages from Long Trail Brewing and food from Gourmet in a Pinch
– Live entertainment from Punting Baxter from 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Black Mountain of Maine season passes offer unlimited cross country skiing at the area’s world class nordic trail system. Additionally, a Black Mountain of Maine season pass is honored at Big Rock Ski Area in Mars Hill and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Through a unique partnership with the Big Adventure Center in Bethel, a season pass holder will also receive one free day pass to the family fun center and 20% off additional tickets for pass holders throughout the year.

Black Mountain of Maine has also entered into a partnership with other Maine ski areas providing two for one lift tickets for Black Mountain of Maine season passholders at the following ski areas: Camden Snowbowl, Lost Valley, Titcomb Mountain, Spruce Mountain, Big Rock and Herman Mountain.

Black Mountain of Maine season pass details: Each pass issued must be from the purchaser’s immediate family. The offer cannot be combined with any other discount, deal, or promotion.

For more information, contact Black Mountain of Maine at 207-864-3977 or visit www.SkiBlackMountain.org.

Hardwood Ski & Bike’s 29th Annual Cross Country Ski Swap & Open House – Oct. 22-23

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October 21, 2011 (Oro Station, ON) – The Hardwood Ski and Bike Annual Ski Swap is one of the largest cross country swaps around offering a great opportunity to find just the right equipment for you for the coming season. The swap includes new and used cross country equipment, snowshoes, poles and more.

It is a chance for people to sell their old equipment at the swap and make a few dollars to put toward upgrading equipment. This is a great place to find ski equipment for your kids for this winter.

You can check out Retail Shop for the newest cross country gear and clothing with an added bonus – you pay no taxes this weekend.

The Open House is a chance to find out about the various programs, clinics, events and races taking place at Hardwood this winter.

WHERE: Hardwood Ski and Bike, 402 W Old Barrie Rd, Oro Station, Ontario
WHEN: October 22 and 23, 2010. Saturday from 9 to 5 and Sunday 9 to 1

Vasaloppet 2012 Surpasses 40,000 Registrants

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October 03, 2011 (Sweden) – Vasaloppet’s 2012 Winter Week has now passed 40,000 registered participants, something which did not occur before November 9 last year. With this pace of registrations, both TjejVasan and StafettVasan will be fully booked before Christmas.

It’s a balmy 20 degrees outside, but interest in skiing is at its peak! Vasaloppet’s Winter Week 2012 has 10,000 more registered entries today compared with the same time last year.

“It’s really fantastic that there’s such a great interest in our events, and that so many choose one or other of our races as a goal for their training,” says Jonas Bauer, Vasaloppets CEO.

TjejVasan has already passed 6,300 registered ladies (a 53 percent increase compared with the same time last year) which means that there remains barely 3,700 places before the new, raised registration ceiling of 10,000 participants is reached.

In StafettVasan, so far, there are 818 teams entered (an increase of 204 percent). StafettVasan attracts many companies to enter their teams of five, as a way of furthering and supporting their own internal health and fitness objectives.

Last winter, three of the Winter Week races were completely full – Vasaloppet, TjejVasan and StafettVasan. Vasaloppet 2012 is already full and, with the current high registration pace, TjejVasan and StafettVasan will be fully booked well before Christmas.

Register entries to Vasaloppet’s various races HERE.

Vasaloppet Winter Week 2012
– Friday 24 Feb: KortVasan, 30 km. Start Oxberg.
– Saturday 25 Feb: TjejVasan, 30 km Start Oxberg.
– Sunday 26 Feb: UngdomsVasan, 3/5/7/9 km. Start Hemus.
– Sunday 26 Feb: Öppet Spår, 90 km. Start Sälen.
– Monday 27 Feb: Öppet Spår, 90 km. Start Sälen.
– Tuesday 28 Feb: HalvVasan, 45 km. Start Oxberg.
– Friday 2 Mar: SkejtVasan, 30/45 km. Start Oxberg.
– Friday 2 Mar: StafettVasan 9 km – 24 km. Start Sälen.
– Sunday 4 Mar: Vasaloppet, 90 km (FULL 30/5/11). Start Sälen.

Mother’s Day Ski with the Menihek Nordic Ski Club

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May 10, 2011 – Fourteen women had a most enjoyable ski on Mother’s Day May 8th, 2011. They all met at the Chalet, and then went for an 8Km on the Birches & Alf’s summit with unbelievably conditions that were close to excellent and all had fun. Back at the chalet, excitement was in the air, conversation was rampant and the ladies had quite an enjoyable social with lots of food and sweets. What!! Some were heard to say, they are looking forward to ski on May 24th.

Norway’s Skarverennet to Wrap Up 2010/11 Ski Season

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April 29, 2011 (Norway) – The end of the Cross-Country season is expected to witness 12,000 cross-country skiers at the start in Geilo, Norway for the season-concluding Skarverennet on Saturday, April 30th. For most of the participants, their race time won’t matter as they will enjoy the 38km race, stopping to picnic and enjoy the views.

Yet several World Cup stars are also expected to compete. Leading the way are Norwegian stars Marit Bjoergen, Therese Johaug and Petter Northug along with Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and the Swiss Team head coach Guri Hetland. Last year’s champion Curdin Perl (SUI) will also be challenged by Jean Marc Gaillard, Vincent Vittoz (both FRA) and biathletes Tarjei Boe (NOR) and Michael Roesch (GER).

Warm temperatures and little snow in this part of Norway at this stage of the season have provided a formidable challenge to the organizers. In higher elevations, the tracks are still in a good condition, but in several other locations, snow must be transported and distributed. However, the organizers are determined to carry out the event, claiming that cancellation is not an option!

Read more HERE.

Fast and Female’s Northern Empowerment Weekend Report

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April 16, 2011 (Norman Wells, NT) – Fast and Female hosted its second Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend in the Norman Wells, Northwest Territories on April 8, 9, and 10, 2011. A total of 46 female skiers between the ages of 9 to 19 from nine NT communities were joined by six ambassadors, three instructors, nine chaperones and 10 volunteers for this unique weekend aimed at inspiring and motivating aboriginal girls in cross-country skiing. This year’s event had a special focus on encouraging youth participation in the Sahtu region.

Throughout the weekend, participants had the opportunity to get first-hand instructions both on and off snow from former National Ski Team member and Northwest Territories athlete, Sarah Daitch, and 4-time Olympian, Sharon Firth. Biathlon expert Lindsey Bolivar and former NCAA athlete, Claire Rennie, were also on site with other elite instructors to share their wisdom with the girls.

On Friday, participants gathered for a welcome dinner, a team poster making session, and a leadership workshop for the teens. The younger participants enjoyed a gymnastic lesson compliment of NWT Gymnastics Association.

Saturday’s activities focused on technical cross-country skiing drills, followed by a Zumba dance lesson from Fit 2 the T, and a yoga class. The youth also had a presentation by Olympian Sharon Firth about her journey from the trails of Inuvik to the world stage in cross country skiing.

The weekend-long camp concluded on Sunday with a community ski day and a distance ski challenge to the Norman Wells Ski cabin.

“I learned so many things this weekend,” said Annah Hanthorn, 16 years old. “The camp reminded me how many people have supported me in my sport and helped me learn more on my ski technique. I also learned more yoga moves and even how to Zumba dance. The key ideas I am taking home with me are to encourage others in my sport, to spread the LOVE and to be reminded of the encouraging words I heard from the ambassadors,” she added.

Fast and Female’s programming is intensely focused on working with girls in sports and exposing them to inspiring female athletic role models. In doing so, Fast and Female hopes to increase the retention of girls in sports. As it currently stands, girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys. It is believed that this ratio increases when girls are living in remote communities and face smaller peer groups to support them in their athletic endeavors.

“There is a need for a critical mass of girls to keep the kids skiing together and having fun,” affirmed local event organizer Karen Johnson. “I remember wishing when my girls were in Jackrabbits that enough girls would stay skiing that the kids could flow together into the next level of ski programmingŠ Luckily for me and my girls, that wish has come true.”

“Boys get lots of opportunities to go out for events, but there is very little for girls in the community,” admitted Krista Kerr, a teacher from the Dene community Lutsel K’e. “This event does not require the numbers that team sports do, so it gives girls the chance to participate and travel”.

Jennifer Waterhouse, a teacher from Deline added: “Its always great when the youth in our community get the chance to visit other communities, meet other youth and get exposed to healthy activities. I know the Deline girls had a great time and this weekend has inspired me to build our ski program.”

Thanks to the support of many sponsors, participation to the event was free, including travel, accommodation and food. The small group of participants was selected on the basis of personal merit, motivation and athletic commitment.

In fact, the 2011 Fast and Female Northern Youth Empowerment Weekend was made possible thanks to valuable event-specific partners such as First Air, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Sahtu Divisional Education Council, the NWT Ski Division, the Colville Lake School Board, the Sport North Federation, the Norman Wells RCMP, the Jokabeca Foundation at The Calgary Foundation, Sorpotimist International, and the Ski North Program. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, Clarins Canada, Cold-FX, and Cross-Country Canada – also provided valuable resources to make this event possible.

“I take great pride in the fact that there are no financial barriers for girls to take part in this event,” added Daitch. “This is especially important for girls from isolated communities. The sponsors who contributed to this event have changed lives and we are greatly thankful for their support.”

Subsequent to this most recent Fast and Female event, the growing organization concludes a busy winter season which saw nine events and a reach of 875 girls across Canada and the United States.

In the coming weeks, Fast and Female will be announcing its event schedule for the Spring and Summer.

Sports Day in Canada – Sept. 17

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April 16, 2011 – Make sure that you get in the game and be a part of Canada’s biggest celebration of sport on September 17. The second annual Sports Day in Canada is shaping up to be a spectacular event showcasing Canada’s love affair with sport – from our youngest fledgling athletes, to elite world class competitors.

Get Your Sport Involved!
Brought to you by CBC Sports, ParticipACTION and True Sport, Sports Day in Canada is a national celebration of sport at all levels in communities across the country. Again this year, local organizations, schools and clubs, big and small, are invited to host open-houses, try it days, competitions and tournaments in the week leading up to and including Sports Day on September 17.

CBC Sports will be delivering extensive coverage of Sports Day in Canada across the nation, and your sports event could be featured in the broadcast, earned media or on-line, so save the date, and start planning your events now – you don’t want to be left on the sidelines.

Sports Day in Canada is made possible by the financial support of the government of Canada through the department of Canadian Heritage (Sport Canada). For more information about Sports Day in Canada and to find out when you can register your event on-line, sign-up for our updates at www.cbcsports.ca/sportsday.

Canmore Nordic Polar Cup – CCC Ski Tournament Report

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April 14, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Walt Disney once said ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’. I’m not sure he was referring to a trip around the world, becoming dogsledders, salt mine workers, or alpine racers, but on Mar 4, the Canmore Nordic Ski Club Track Attack skiers did just all those things and more.

The day started with some face painting in the team room where four teams emerged – Team Moustache ‐ with great looking moustaches I might add; Team Whiskers – the cutest group of puppies around with long black whiskers; Team Snowflake – with very fashionable snowflakes on their faces (including one unibrow); and Team Polar Bear – wearing great looking bears. Thrown in there were a few painted flags on faces and well, you can probably picture it, these kids were ready for action.

There were three events that the teams competed in – the Yukon Quest Dog Sled Challenge; the Siberian Salt Mine Relay; and the Holmenkollen Downhill Quest. The dog sled challenge saw the kids become puppies (they sure loved to bark) and complete a team pursuit race, complete with pit stop, gear change and technique change. The Salt Mine Relay was lots of fun and saw the kids complete a continuous relay where every skier on each team completed a leg of diagonal striding, double poling, and step doubling poling. The downhill quest was a terrain park downhill sprint tournament complete with timing, heats, roller coaster bumps, and speed. Events were timed and great prizes were awarded for team spirit, an aggregate award based on results and technique, and participation awards from Cross Country Canada. Polar Cup(cakes) and lots of cookies, snacks, and hot chocolate were enjoyed by all – thanks to our fabulous parents for contributing those. Thanks also to parents and coaches who did the organizing and help guide the around the world adventure.

The energy and imagination of the event matched the enthusiasm and smiling faces of the kids having fun on skis.

The ski tournament is becoming an integral and important event in the yearly calendar of the Canmore Nordic Track Attack skiers. Last year’s Ski Rodeo and this year’s Polar Cup are going to be hard to top. But something tells me that the world may need to be saved in 2012 by a group of strong, fit, skiing superheroes! No need to worry, I have a feeling that a group of 50+ superheroes will arrive just in time at next years event!

Results HERE.

Racing Rocks Whitehorse School Challenge Report

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April 12, 2011 (Whitehorse, YT) – The Racing Rocks Whitehorse School Challenge on March 30 was a great success this year! We had 145 students participating between grades 4 and 7 (2001-1998) from eight different schools in the city.

There were over 35 volunteers to pull off such a incredible day and their enthusiasm was spread to all the participants. It was a sunny warm day and there was a lot of laughter and fun in the sun!

After the buses arrived there was a short introduction and orientation for the day. The students were pre-assigned to teams defined by bib colours. Each team had a leader who distributed the CCC tshirts (which received many glowing complements). There were 12 different stations set up around the stadium including terrain park relays, obstacle courses, hockey, lacrosse, scooter baseball, slalom, tug-of-war, parachute, downhill races, berm tricks, para-nordic sit ski and a skills relay. Each station had a leader to model and explain the game or activity. There was music playing throughout the morning, announcing for the relays, snacks served at half time and local media present interviewing kids / taking pictures.

At noon the students skied up to the chalet for a gourmet lunch put on by some excellent volunteers and a slide show of the morning activities. We then had a local elite athlete engage the students in a talk about active living, goal setting and the importance of healthy choices and being involved with sport. He was a very captivating and motivating speaker for all ages.

The afternoon was filled with sprint races (“The Mad Dash”) in the stadium. The races were professionally set up and we had members of the Yukon Ski Team, as well as members from the National Ski Team model the different distances and demonstrate the spirit of racing to the elementary age students. It was a lot of fun and awards were presented immediately afterwards.

The day ended much too quickly with sun burnt smiling faces on the exhausted students. The success of the event directly corresponded to the great sponsorship by Cross Country Canada (the t-shirts were a big hit!), Cross Country Yukon’s support and the amazing committed volunteers from the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club. Thank you to all for yet another successful Racing Rocks School Challenge event!

Cross Country Skiing in Golden, BC

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April 07, 2011 (Golden, BC) – Check out this video featuring a wide range of cross country skiing opportunities in beautiful Golden, BC as well as great post-skiing options. Keith and Heather Nicol recently visited and happened to be there for their popular Huckleberry Loppet. If you are looking for a great place to stay check out the Cedar House Chalets. Also look for an article on skiing in Golden in an upcoming issue of SkiTrax Magazine.

Fast and Female Concludes 2011 US Tour with Idaho X-Country SkiFest

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April 05, 2011 (Ketchum, ID) – Fast and Female hosted its third and final X-Country SkiFest of the year on American snow this past Sunday in Ketchum, Idaho. Held under clear and sunny skies, the event was highlighted by the participation of 70 female ski enthusiasts between the ages of 7 to 19 years who had the opportunity to spend a morning of inspiration with 23 ambassadors – 7 of which are Olympians.

As part of the unique event, Fast and Female event participants kicked off their day with first-hand ski tips from some of the world’s best cross-country ski racers including Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen, Holly Brooks, Caitlin Compton, Morgan Arritola, Chandra Crawford (Canada), and Biathlete Sara Studebaker. All ambassadors volunteered their time to the event and dressed the part to ensure a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

“It was super awesome,” said 17 year-old participant Emily Williams. “We had so much fun dancing, singing and learning new technique drills. It was amazing to spend the day with these great athletes.”

After the skiing, all girls enjoyed a healthy lunch, took part in an inspirational speech, and concluded the day with a fun yoga/dance session.

“The speeches were really inspirational and not just for cross country skiers,” admitted Kailey Wilt, age 14.

In keeping with Fast and Female’s vision, each event segment served a specific purpose to motivate girls to stay involved in sports as a tremendous vehicle for reaching one’s personal and athletic best.

“The looks we saw on our athletes’ faces today showed us what an important message Fast and Female sends to young women,” added Kelley Sinnott from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Sinnott played a key role in coordinating the event along with colleague Ashley McQueen.

Throughout the 2011 winter, Fast and Female hosted three events in the USA, reaching a total of 470 girls in Maine, Alaska and now Idaho. Historically, events are not only inspiring for the young participants but even ambassadors leave the day feeling energized.

“It’s always refreshing to be reminded of kids’ energy and enjoyment of whatever they are part of,” said World Cup racer Liz Stephen. “Fast and Female is a wicked program and the local community and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation did an awesome job with all the work!”

Parent volunteer, Gretchen Wagner, also commented on the impact of the day: “What an amazing group of women! It was great to see all of the girls inspired by these fast female heroes. Smiles from ear to ear!”

All event participants left with a Fast and Female t-shirt, Buff and autographed poster.

This activity was made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as the Works of Grace Foundation, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Cheatwood Photography, and many parent volunteers. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, lululemon athletica, and Cold-FX – are also providing resources to make this event possible. For a complete list of Fast and Female national program supporters and sponsors, please click HERE.

Fast and Female will be releasing more event information shortly. Until then, continue to visit www.fastandfemale.com.

Fast and Female Biathlon Day in New Brunswick a Success

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March 30, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Last Friday, Fast and Female hosted its maiden biathlon day and its first ever event in Charlo, New Brunswick at the Club Les Aventuriers. Held in conjunction with the 2011 Kia Biathlon Canadian Championships, the Fast and Female Biathlon Day presented by Best Buy hosted more than 40 female athletes between the ages of 9 to 19 from across Canada for a sunny morning of inspiration on and off snow.

The young participants – some of whom were already on site to compete in the National Championship – had the opportunity to get first hand tips from National Biathlon stars Zina Kocher, Megan Imrie, Melanie Schultz, and Claude Godbout. They were joined by a handful of eager local girls involved in cross-country skiing programs and beginner biathlon racing from across the Maritimes.

The morning event featured an introductory presentation on the sport of biathlon, followed by on-snow ski drills, target shooting, Zumba dancing and an inspirational presentation by Zina Kocher who took part in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. In keeping with Fast and Female’s vision, the intent of the event was to inspire girls to stick the unique sport of Biathlon which combines cross-country skiing and target shooting.

“We had a GREAT day,” said Megan Imrie, a Fast and Female ambassador from Falcon Lake, Manitoba and a 2010 Olympian. “It was fabulous! We had plenty of wonderful feedback from both girls and parents. We even had some cross-country girls who now want to join biathlon. Needless to say that all ambassadors were very happy to hear that!”

According to Biathlon Canada officials, girls represent 45% of all biathletes in Canada.

“Girls competing at the local and provincial levels don’t often get the chance to ski besides Zina, Megan, Melanie and Claude because those girls are racing in Europe all winter,” explained Marie-Hélène Thibeault, Executive Director for Fast and Female. “Through the Fast and Female programming, we are able to bring everyone together in a non-competitive, fun and inspiring environment to allow for the optimal personal and athletic growth of the participants. We are very fortunate to be able to count on the volunteer time of such high quality ambassadors who have so much to give back.”

This activity was made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as Marion Heppel, the organizing committee for the Kia Biathlon Canadian Championships, Le Club Les Aventuriers, and Biathlon New Brunswick. The event also enjoyed the support of many caring volunteers. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, Cold-FX, Clarins and Biathlon Canada – also providing key resources for the event. For a complete list of Fast and Female national program supporters and sponsors, please click HERE.

Watch a photo montage from the event:

To learn more about Fast and Female’s upcoming events, please visit www.fastandfemale.com.

Follow Fast and Female on Facebook HERE.

Hardwood Ski and Bike Extends Ski Season to April 3

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March 29, 2011 (Oro Station, ON) – Due to the cool weather and good snow coverage Hardwood will remain open for one more week until Sunday, April 3rd. The majority of our trails are open with good spring skiing conditions and trails will continue to be groomed as conditions permit.

We still have good snow coverage on the trails that are open, so you do not have to end your ski season yet. We take care of our snow like gardeners take care of lawns and flowers. For more, info check out the webcam or give us a call at 705 487 3775. We will always tell you the truth about conditions. It doesn’t do us any good in the long run to misrepresent the snow conditions and have you come up here and find that they are not what we said.

Hardwood Ski and Bike is a family oriented cross country skiing, mountain biking and outdoor recreation facility with 300 acres of beautiful trails. We have 80 kms of mountain bike, 74 kms of cross country and 18 kms of snowshoe trails. Our facility is located 15 mins. north of Barrie just off Highway 400, within 1 1/4 hour drive from downtown Toronto. “A place where everyone can enjoy pursuing their outdoor fitness activities in a fun, social, safe and healthy atmosphere.”


BC Nordic News: Photo Contest, Events, Spring Ski Deals, Ask the Expert

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March 24, 2011 – You have 7 more days to upload your best photo for a chance to win! Upload your XC, snowshoeing and backcountry ski pics to WIN the $1450 Ultimate Nordic Winter Getaway in BC from Tourism Whistler! There’s still time to vote for your faves and help give away the 2nd Prize: The Yeti Snowshoe and Silver Star XC Weekend Warrior Combo Pack. Click HERE to enter.

We’re going deep in the prize bag and still giving away daily prizes during this last week. Join us on Facebook for updates and prize announcements! Does your photo got what it takes to win? Click HERE to check out the competition. Contest deadline: March 31, 2011.

– Vancouver Island Loppet at Mount Washington: March 26
– North American Biathlon Championships at WOP: March 31-April 3
– Retro Day at Silver Star Mountain Resort: April 2
– 3rd Annual 30k Woppet at Ski Callagan: April 9
– Spring Fling at Ski Callaghan: April 30

For more upcoming events visit the BC Nordic event calendar HERE throughout the winter season.


Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup: Race Photos
By all accounts the Masters World Cup at Sovereign Lake was a huge success! Click HERE to view the race photos. If you’re interested in competing next year, the 2012 MWC will be hosted in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.

Backcountry Beckons
There are miles of off-track trails to explore in BC during the spring season and backcountry skiing is a great alternative outdoor experience. Backcountry and Nordic ski touring equipment and hut rentals are available at many Nordic facilities and resorts. The backcountry ski season typically lasts until May and even June at some locations.

Bulkley Valley Nordic Centre operates two backcountry huts Starr Creek Cabin (1400m) and Harold Price Cabin (1600m). These cabin rentals are very affordable at $5-12/pp .The Bulkley Valley area near Smithers, BC is surrounded by mountains and known for its plentiful backcountry offerings.

Dakota Ridge Winter Recreation Area on the Sunshine Coast is a 1,532 acre winter playground that not only offers XC ski trails but also an abundance of backcountry terrain. Check out a quirky extreme snowshoeing video HERE shot at Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

You’ll need a few days to fully explore the 98km off-track trails at Larch Hills XC Ski Area. The trails also run through portions of the Shuswap’s Violet Creek Provincial Park. Click HERE for more info.

Explore Vancouver Island backcountry with Strathcona Nordic’s guide Andrew Pape-Salmon. He’s hosting two upcoming trips: March 27 at Mount Cokely and April 17 at Mount Albert Edward. Click HERE for detailed trip information. Mount Washington also offers daily guided off piste backcountry ski tour options.

Rossland, BC is world famous for its deep powder snow and lures backcountry skiers from around the world. Click HERE to download the Black Jack Nordic Trail and backcountry map. Sun Peaks Resort offers a 14.3 km of backcountry Nordic trail system along with the comforts and amentites of a full-service resort.

The Callaghan Valley, with 4,500 hectare terrain and high vertical drops is a prime backcountry ski touring destination in the Southern Coast Mountain Range. Start your tour from Callaghan Country lodge. A Backcountry Access Pass is only $10.

Spring is in full swing and the ski conditions have never been better! Looking for a spring Nordic getaway? Check out these offers. Get to know other Nordic ski areas and resorts in BC and find out what makes them great.

Spring XC Skiing on the Sunshine Coast
There’s still time to get in some XC skiing and snowshoeing at Dakota Ridge. Take advantage of special deals at B&Bs and cottages before the mid-season rates kick in. A family day pass is a bargain at $20. Click HERE for deals.

Ski Callaghan Spring Specials until April 3
Ski Callaghan is offering sweet deals for the entire family: XC ski lessons, snowshoe tours and the ever popular “Biathlon Experience” sessions. Click HERE for Callaghan specials.

Snowshoeing Hotspot – Otway Nordic Ski Centre
There’s plenty of snow at Otway Nordic Centre this season! Over 10km snowshoe trails to explore on varied terrain, easy to advanced. Trail pass only $6. Otway’s spring hours are 8:30am until 9:30pm.


Common Nordic Skiing Injuries
by: Sophia Sauter Registered Physiotherapist, Active Life Physiotherapy

Cross-country skiing is a sport with a very low incidence of injuries due to its low impact nature, however some of us may have endured some injuries during the ski season or inadvertently aggravated pre-existing conditions. Approximately 75% of injuries sustained by Nordic skiers are a result of overuse due to the repetitive nature of skiing, while the remaining 25% are a result of trauma. The following outlines some common injuries and appropriate treatment.

Traumatic Injuries (25%), for example: Ankle sprain; Thumb sprain; Knee ligament sprain; Groin muscle strain; Wrist sprain. The recommended treatment is RICE: Relative rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Then, slowly restore range of motion, strength, proprioception and power. It’s best to see a physiotherapist to obtain a proper diagnosis and set of rehabilitative exercises.

Overuse Injuries (75%), for example: Knee pain (patellofemoral, ITBand); Compartment syndrome (shins); Achilles tendinopathy; Rotator cuff tendinopathy (shoulder); Low back pain. The recommened treatment is a bit different. In these cases it’s important to correct muscle imbalance (e.g. tight/weak), equipment faults, and possible training errors. Seek medical advice from a physiotherapist or other qualified health professional specializing in injuries common to Nordic skiers.

Of course, the best treatment for any injury is prevention. This means utilizing appropriate training progressions, maintaining physical strength, balance, flexibility, adopting appropriate recovery techniques, and treating any lingering individual malalignments/weaknesses/imbalances.

Check in with a physiotherapist for full body analysis to identify individual mechanical inadequacies. Also consider an athlete specific core stability and functional strength program. Think about dealing with your injuries now so you can start your next season off right!

Sophia Sauter is a Registered Physiotherapist at Active Life Physiotherapy in North Vancouver. Sophia is also a Clinical Instructor, Department of Physical Therapy at UBC, and is an avid Nordic skier and runner.

Learn more about Active Life Physiotherapy HERE.

NENSA 2011 Annual Fund Drive Launches Today

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March 23, 2011 – You’ve supported us all winter long by participating in NENSA events and sharing your love of skiing with those around you, now is your chance to contribute to NENSA financially, to help provide us with the platform to get even better as we move forward.

Make a Donation and check on our drive’s progress HERE.

Create Your Own Fundraising Page for NENSA to encourage your friends to contribute HERE.

We’ve had a wonderful winter. We’ve set records for membership again this year, with growth of at least 5% (numbers are still coming in!) had great snow throughout the region once it got started, and enjoyed wonderful events at fantastic venues all winter long. Now is our chance to say thank you for being a part of it and to ask you to support both the current work of NENSA and build a strong foundation for its future growth.

What does the future hold? Short-term, I envision full funding for New England qualifiers to J1, World Junior, and U23 trip. I also see further expansion of our successful ski lease program that helps get kids and families on skis for the first time. And, yes, it means continual improvement of our core programs like the TD Bank Eastern Cup Series, BKL Festival, Championship events, Gaining the Edge Clinics, Kids Ski Days, and more… Longer term, a strong financial foundation gives us the strength to spot and seize opportunities for new programs and avenues to enhance our mission. In summary, the Annual Fund Drive is important and your contribution matters!

What will it take to reach our goals? A big part of it is the continuous support of our major sponsors like TD Bank, LL Bean, and Trapp Family Lodge, but in recent years our Annual Fund has grown… and grown… and is now a critical component of our success. Donate $5 or donate $500 if you can… NENSA is doing well, we are strong, but we need your continued support to continue to serve the xc skiing community.

Follow us, and this annual fund drive at www.twitter.com/nensa

Pacific Yurts Introduces New Energy-Efficient ‘Form-Fitting’ Window System

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March 22, 2011 (Cottage Grove, OR) – Over its 33-year history of building the highest-quality modern yurts, Pacific Yurts’ long list of innovations coupled with outstanding customer service has kept them at the top of the industry they created. From reflective insulation and French doors to heavy-duty snow and wind upgrades, the Cottage Grove, Oregon company was the first to introduce most of the features that have made yurts tremendously popular in a variety of settings and applications.

Now Pacific Yurts is pleased to introduce one of its most exciting innovations to date: the unique Custom Curve™ window system. Custom Curve™ is the first glass window system with a structurally engineered framework that follows the curved wall of the yurt. It thereby avoids the “flat panel” appearance of other systems and creates the most aesthetically appealing window available in a yurt today.

This latest innovation comes in response to customer requests for a new, energy-efficient window system that could be opened from the inside, says Pacific Yurts founder and CEO Alan Bair. “One of the many benefits of a modern yurt is its flexibility. It can be used in a wide variety of locations, and sometimes that means customers will be placing them on a mountain slope or atop a tall platform,” Bair says. “Since the standard yurt window opens from the outside, we wanted to give these customers an easy option for opening any hard to reach windows without the need for a wrap-around deck.”

Pacific Yurts solved that problem through a mixture of ingenuity and technology. The Custom Curve™ design utilizes a Low-E thermal glass window for maximum energy efficiency, and integrates a fabric flange into the window system to assure a weather-tight seal. By engineering the window into the yurt design, and supporting it with a beautiful top-quality Douglas fir framework, Pacific Yurts has been able to eliminate the latticework that crisscrosses through the standard yurt window, thereby enhancing the view.

Pacific Yurts’ new window system can be installed virtually anywhere along the wall of their three largest yurt sizes. It can be ordered with a new yurt or retrofitted to an existing yurt, and easily lends itself to customization with shelving, wood panels or window treatments for a personalized look.

As the company that pioneered the design and development of the first modern yurt, Pacific Yurts has been responsible for the most important advances in the industry. The Custom Curve™ window system ranks with the best of them, Bair says. Visit our website at www.yurts.com for more information.

Enman and Crawford Set New Course Records at 4th Annual Catamount Trail Backcountry Challenge

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March 17, 2011 (Burlington, VT) – Forty-five adventurous skiers from throughout New England and New York stood on the starting line at Trapp Family Lodge for the 4th Annual Catamount Trail Backcountry Challenge Race and Tour on March 13th.

As the valley residents were experiencing rain in the lower elevations, these hardy backcountry participants were treated to lightly falling snow and up to five inches of fresh cover in the elevated mountainous areas. Unlike other Nordic ski races and tours, the participants were totally self sufficient on this remote backcountry trail. The 17km course in one of the most famous and well used sections of the Catamount Trail, generally skied from South to North. Race and Tour participants skied it in reverse fashion, which entailed a 2300 ft vertical climb and a 1300 ft hair raising descent off Bolton Mountain to the Bolton Valley Nordic Center below.

The touring division was given a head start before the competitive skiers raced off the start line 90 minutes later. While the touring division was able to enjoy the incredible scenery on their leisurely tour up and over Bolton Mountain, the racers were giving 100% of their effort to reach the finish line in the shortest possible time.

In the hotly contested field of elite racers, it was Eli Enman of Huntington Vermont who broke free of the main pack early in the race to set a new course record of 1:30:30, improving on his winning time and record from the 2010 race. Olympian Marc Gilbertson of Hyde Park and Eric Tremble of Jericho raced head to head down the mountain with Gilbertson making up ten seconds in the last kilometer to place second while Tremble nailed down the third position in 1:34:50.

The women’s race developed into a similar scenario as the men’s competition with Kate Crawford of Essex breaking free from the pack early in the race and setting a new course record in 2:05:22. The second and third positions were up for grab as Brie and Tyne Pike-Sprenger of West Dover, Vermont raced head to head throughout the entire race. Brie’s alpine racing experience paid off in the final descent, edging out her sister Tyne by two seconds to take second in a time of 2:13:13.

Following their heroic efforts over the grueling course, all participants were treated to a meal and over $2000 in donated raffle prizes and awards. Sponsors included Outdoor Gear Exchange, Rossignol Ski Company, Darn Tough Socks, Seventh Generation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Silverwear Jewery. A special thanks goes out Trapp Family Lodge, Bolton Valley Resort, and the Bolton Valley Ski Patrol for making this Catamount Trail Association event so successful. Proceeds from this event will help protect the 300-mile Catamount Trail.

Full results HERE.

Sovereign Lake Loppet Hosts International Field

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March 14, 2011 (Sovereign Lake, BC) – Sovereign Lake’s annual 30km freestyle loppet became an international competition as Petr Pavol of the Czech Republic finished in first place. Renowned competitors such as US Olympians Leslie Hall and Laura McCabe, who had participated in the Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup but were ready for more racing, competed in the loppet as well.

“He was looking forward to take part in this race as a finish or culmination of his results from the masters,” said a translator for Pavol. At the MWC2011 Pavol scored two golds and one bronze.

“He was really disappointed that he didn’t medal in the marathon race on the first day of racing so he was insisted on taking part in this one… he was trying to be first.” Pavol finished his race in a time of 1 hour and 22 minutes.

For Pavol skiing in Canada at Sovereign Lake was a memorable experience. When asked of his impression of the ski area he smiled and commented, “Skiing at Sovereign Lake is the best skiing in my life. Really, really.”

Pavol had new competition in the Sovereign Lake Loppet, as second place went to local skier David Harbocian who wasn’t old enough to race as a master skier in the previous week of racing.

“We had a pack of five to eight people at the start, then we went down Silver Queen, some Czech racer decided to attack so I went with him for a few minutes and he decided to drop me,” said Harbocian.

“There were a couple of sections where you would turn a corner and get a blast of head wind,” added Harboacian. “Racing was great, so was the temperature… and the snow was fast.”

Harbocian took the first place result in the men’s 18-29 age category in the 30km race with a time of 1:25. The fastest women’s time was American Olympian Hall with a time of 1:31.

In the men’s 15km race the men’s fastest time went to Jon Sader who finished in 49 minutes. In the women’s category, Theresa Korobanik layed down the fastest race with a time of 1:02.

Gareth Williams topped the 7km field finishing in 23:58 and Dana Allen lead the women 30:50. Ian Oliphant and Keeya Corbett were first in the kids aged 7-9. Mitchell Bond and Sofie Steinruck were the quickest skiers in the six and under category.

Full results HERE.

One Way Launches XC Skis and Boots for 2012

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March 11, 2011 – ONE WAY, one of the leading Nordic Sports brands from Finland, is launching a full range of cross country skis and cross country boots for 2012. ONE WAY is joining the Salomon SNS binding system. The Finnish Nordic Sports brand has probably been the fastest growing Nordic Sports brand in the last years with a wide product portfolio in cross country poles, Nordic sportswear, roller skis, Nordic Sports eyewear, technical Footwear and Nordic Walking products.

Many World Champions and medallists in cross country and biathlon are using ONE WAY products, like Martin Fourcade (FRA), Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), and Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR), and several World Cup teams are exclusively equipped with OW textiles for their teams, like the French Nordic Team or Slovenia.

From 2012, ONE WAY will offer a full product range in cross country skies and cross country boots. The product range includes high performance racing skies for World Cup and elite ski marathon skiers.

In addition, ONE WAY will offer new ski and boot concepts for young and modern cross country enthusiasts. The cross country sport has developed in the last 2 years very positively towards a younger image.

The new line allows the market and retailers to meet the new consumer demand for new and fresh concepts for skis and boots.

Finland has a strong history in building cross country skis. ONE WAY will follow the tradition, building a new Scandinavian cross country ski brand for the modern consumer in the popular sport of cross country.

ONE WAY has signed a partnership with SALOMON using the SNS binding systems for all their products. The Salomon SNS system is in many countries one of the most popular and technically advanced connection between ski and boot.

Both companies are sharing a partnership and interest in developing the image of cross country sports for young and modern consumers, but as well building a cooperation in new technologies.

ONE WAY Sport OY Chairman of the Board Lasse Korppi: “Adding the cross country skies and boots, ONE WAY will be the most complete and exciting product offer in Nordic Sports world wide, textiles-footwear-eyewear-poles-roller ski- Nordic walking- accesories.”

NEW Ski Race Introduced – Pole, Pedal and Pound – Mar. 19

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March 10, 2011 (Oro Medonte, ON) – Hardwood Ski and Bike is introducing a fun new event on March 19 called the Pole, Pedal and Pound – an unconventional triathlon consisting of cross country skiing, biking and snowshoeing. This event can be done solo or as a team of three.

Race breakdown:
– 5km cross country ski
– 3km snowshoe
– 5km bike

Race Start Time: 9:00 am

For more information and registration information click here.


Course Description for Yellowstone Rendezvous Race – Mar. 5

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March 01, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – The 32nd annual Yellowstone Rendezvous Race will be held on March 5, 2011. Local legend, Nordic shop owner, and member of the race organizing committee, Kelli Sanders, invites all skiers to join her on race day. Sanders was asked to describe the course and here is what she said.

– Start- Listen for the boom of the cannon and it is race on.
– 1k- All out, it is flat and wide open.
– 2k- The terrain is rolling. Anticipate the first steady climb followed by a short herringbone hill.
– 3 to 5k- Enjoy the gentle terrain with a long easy downhill that rolls into the first feed station.
– 5k, 1st feed. – Thank you to the volunteers from the Forest Service manning the station.
– 5 to 7k- Continue gentle terrain with a horseshoe bend.
– 8 to 9k- Expect a couple of short hills with button hook turns.
– 10k- Go fast down the long descend.
– 11k- What a sight. It is a gradual long climb with open views.
– 12k- Bob up and down and look around. The scenery is beautiful in this stretch. Roll up to second feed station.
– 12k, 2nd feed.– Look for volunteers from the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation and other local groups.
– 13 to 14k- Brace for the long climb back up to Dead Dog.
– 15 to 18k- Gradual downhill and rolling terrain to the 3rd feed station.
– 18k, 3rd feed. – The West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce shows their support.
– 18k- Rolling up with little relief.
– 19k- Slow going at the longest/steepest climb of race course.
– 20 to 21k- Recover on this fun stretch over rolling terrain and enjoy the twists and turns.
– 22k- Last gradual long climb on the race course with a steep ‘S’ descent.
– 23 to 24k- Rolling into biathlon cabin area.
– 25k- Flat and wide open back to finish area for 25k or head under the arch for the second lap. 50k racers get to do it all again and will find the last feed station near the trailhead building.

After crossing the finish line, all skiers are invited to the Ambulance/Fire Station for the final feed. West Yellowstone Boy Scouts are on-hand to serve warm soup, drinks, and other snacks as skiers recover from the marathon. Stick around for the evening Awards Ceremony, complimentary dessert bar, raffle, and live music at the Holiday Inn.

Late registration is open until noon MST on Thursday, March 3rd. The extended weather forecast looks promising. It will be a great weekend to ski in West Yellowstone.
More info can be found at www.rendezvousrace.com

Toko Field Report and Compton Skier Diary from the Birkie

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March 01, 2011 (Hayward, WI) – All winter long, we’ve been testing and finding HF Blue with Jetstream Blue over the top to run extremely well in cold weather, and at the 2011 Birkie, this was proven once again – We went with HF Blue covered by JetStream Blue and had fantastic skis.

Looking at forecasts a few days out, we knew that the weather was going to take a dive from Thursday night until Saturday, so we held off on testing too much until 6am on Friday morning. After some quick runs on the skis at Boedecker, I came back to Telemark Lodge, assembled CXC’s crack team of waxers, and we started running through skis. Part of the privileges of being on the CXC Master Team is getting your skis waxed for the Birkie, so we had 50+ pairs to wax for them, plus the CXC Elite Team skis. Between good organization, good tools and good workers, we were able to get the skis glide waxed before 7:30pm.

The Birkie classic has definitely grown, and we had about 20 pairs of skis to binder and wax. We used a mix of hard-wax binder and a few drops of green klister ironed in with it. Between the forecast and the length of the race, we went slightly warmer than starting conditions would call for — a few layers of blue hard wax covered with green. As it turned out, the weather didn’t warm up as much as we expected, but the kick definitely stuck around.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with the CXC Team’s results — wins in the women’s skate (Caitlin Compton) and classic (Jennie Bender), with Maria Stuber coming in 5th. On the men’s side, Karl Nygren and Eric Wolcott went 2-3 in the classic and in the skate, Bryan Cook came in 5th, with Brian Gregg 8th, Matt Liebsch 9th and Santi Ocariz 17th.

– Jason Cork, Head Coach, CXC Elite Team

Report from the Winner – American Birkebeiner
Heading into the Birkie I had a plan that I set up with my coaches over two months before. We sat down and laid out both the races and the travel that I would be doing in preparation for my peak at the American Birkibeiner.

The weeks before the Birkie were the most important. I was entered in both Super Tours and Marathon races and had a heavy training load. My plan included a two week altitude camp in Aspen, CO. I raced my Hometown City of Lakes Loppet the day before I left and ran into a lot of mishaps along the way. I felt great at the start and was ready to go. The men and women start together which leads to a very tight and busy first couple of kilometers. I was swallowed up quickly in the crowd and proceeded to try and maintain contact with the other women in the race. Unfortunately I maintained too much contact and a little tangle with another woman left me without the bottom half of my pole. I went on to race without a pole for the next couple of K, then with a long pole for another couple of K, before getting a pole that fit for the remainder of the race. I stayed relaxed and was able to hold onto the lead to the finish despite my pole mishap.

When I got off the plane in Aspen I knew I was in for a treat. The mountains were beautiful and there was plenty of snow. I was staying with a fellow racer’s parents and they were some of the best host parents I have ever had. After only a few days I knew I made the right decision to train in Aspen and race the Owl Creek Chase. The altitude was very high but the terrain and ski trails were incredible. The morning of the Owl Creek Chase came and the temperatures were soaring into the upper 40’s. I chose a pair of skis with more structure anticipating a slushy finish of the race. At the start I was on the front line ready to go. I wore my drink belt in preparation for the Birkie and took of double poling when the gun fired. I found a great spot in second place behind a fellow competitor but suddenly I was swallowed up by the girls charging behind me. I went down and found myself leaving the stadium in last place. Thankfully I had both poles intact but I had a lot of work to do to get back up with the lead pack. I made my way up through the women’s field and found myself with the lead group at the 5K mark. Suddenly the altitude caught up with me and I felt like I was carrying a load of bricks on my back. I watched as the other girls skied away from me and those who I had just passed pass me back. I stayed positive again and focused on skiing the rest of my race within my limits. During the last 5K I gave a final push and found that my body had recovered and could respond. I was able to pass seven women and finish the race strong and happy in 7th place.

The week of the Birkie quickly approached and I realized that I hadn’t skied much of the Birkie course in the last 6 years. Brian Gregg took me out daily to the key locations and as we trained we discussed strategy and tactics. As the Birkie morning approached I was feeling great and ready to go. The only question was the temperature. At a frigid -8F I arrived at the start having left one of my Toko mittens at home in Minneapolis. I did however bring my Toko Windstopper gloves and knew they would work well. But how well??? My excitement was high and I found myself jumping and jogging around a lot before the start, swinging my legs and arms often to keep the blood flowing. I have had problems with my feet hands and face in the past when the temperatures have dipped below zero and my fear lay in the fact that I had 50K to ski with temps remaining frigid the whole way. As I approached the start I strapped on my poles as the gun went off and the banner went up I found myself double poling to the best start position yet this season. I ducked into second place behind a Swiss woman and suddenly realized just how fast my skis were moving! I easily free skating behind her and standing up on the slightest of down hills to avoid colliding. Awesome!!! As we cruised through the first part of the race I was also psyched to realize that my hands and fingers were warm and cozy! I stayed at the front of the pack through the entire race avoiding collisions but never pushing too hard to bury myself. My skis continued to soar along the snow without the slightest hesitation and my hands were so comfortable even on the longest of down hills. I was able to get every feed I needed and respond to all attacks that were made.

With 10 kilometers to go I decided to make my move. I knew my skis were awesome and my body was ready so I took off at the front of the group. The other women responded and stayed close behind but I could sense that I was gliding a little further on every downhill and could rest a little longer. As we approached the final 2 kilometers three other women were still with me and the snow began to fall as we were crossing Lake Hayward. Amazingly I felt my skis speed up even more! Wow I thought my skis are still rockets after almost 50K of skiing. I pushed hard and felt the gap between myself and the other women starting to widen. I upped the tempo and power and found myself in the lead as we headed up Main Street. As I approached the finish I saw Brian waiting on the other side. Nothing could have made me happier and ski faster then seeing his smiling face. I charged to the line and realized I had just won as I gave Brian a huge hug.

The weather was still frigid but I couldn’t even tell through all of my excitement and happiness. A little frostbite on my nose was the only effect the cold could have on me that day. My fingers were warm and my spirits were high.

The plan worked and despite setbacks along the way everything went seamless on Birkie morning.

– Caitlin Compton, Women’s Race Winner

Razzle your Drink Belt Contest
Decorate your Toko drink belt and post the image on the Toko US Facebook Page. On 15 March, we will select our favorite. The winner will receive $500 worth of Toko product in the fall when we have everything in stock. Here’s the link to the Toko US Facebok page.

Race Wax Recommendations for the Masters Cross Country Ski World Cup 2011 will be posted on www.TokoUS.com. Direct link to the page HERE. They will also be tweeted (TokoUS) and posted to the Toko US Facebook page HERE.

For Toko Wax Tips for Canadian Cross Country Ski Races, go to the Toko Canada Facebook Site HERE.

33rd Gatineau Loppet Wraps Up with an Electrifying Finish

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February 21, 2011 (Gatineau, QC) – Close to 700 skiers showed up on Sunday morning for the 51km and the 28km freestyles. Unlike yesterday’s mass start, Sunday’s took place under a magnificent blue sky and bathed in brilliant sunshine. The winds had slowed and the temperature was a crisp 16 below.

Canadians Sweep 28K Freestyle Podium
Sean Thompson from St-Bruno had good reason to be proud as he took the first place spot on the podium for the second time in two days, this one with a time of 1:08:30.6, and yesterday’s victory being for his win of the 28 km classic. For a second consecutive day, Sacha Desfossés from Prévost finished in second place, but with a better time of 1:11:49.9. He was followed one one-hundreth of a second later by Julien Lamoureux from Sainte-Julie, who took third place with a time of 1:11:50.0.

In the women’s category, Ottawa’s Adele Lay won the top spot with a time of 1:17:51.4. Kate Crawford from Essex Junction, U.S.A. earned the silver medal with 1:20:42.5. Montréal’s Annie Chénard took home the bronze, with a time of 1:24:35.1.

Electrifying Finish in the Men’s 51K
Spectators at the finish line were treated to a phenomenal finale, as the five skiers finished in a space of only 7 seconds. Ottawa’s Aidan Lennie was in the lead with a time of 2:07:52.1, for which he won the $1,200 purse. Eli Enman, from Huntington, U.S.A. was two seconds behind, with a time of 2:07:54.0, which earned him the silver medal. One second later Canmore’s Erik Carleton secured the third spot on the podium and a swig of champagne for his 2:07:54.9. These three skiers were only slightly ahead of Marc-André Bédard from Valcartier, who made it in 2:07:55.0, and Karl Saidla, a member of the event’s board of directors, who came in fifth with 2:07:59.1.

Kamila Borutova from the Czech Republic made it to the top step on the podium for the women’s race with 2:25:04.2. This win was doubly sweet after her previous day’s gold for the 28 km classic style. Calgary’s Eva Szabo, who had finished 3rd in 2009, took 2:27:13.2 to earn the silver medal. Ottawa’s Sheila Kealy, who won the 53 km classic style in 2010, was exactly 2 seconds behind, with an impressive last-minute sprint, bringing her time to 2:27:15.2.

Dazzling Performance by Young Skiers in the 10K
The 10 km is always good for some fancy footwork by local young skiers. This was once again the case, with 5 of the 6 steps of the podium going to local skiers.

In the women’s category, Gatineau’s Noémi Bérubé, who had come second in this same race in 2009, slid to victory with a time of 27:28.3. Claudia Cameron, from Metcalfe, finished in 28:43.1, followed by Emma Underwood from Kattskill Bay in the U.S.A., who only yesterday had won the 5 km classic.

Among the boys, the first two places went to Gatineau residents Xavier Bouchard (23:46.6) and Dominique Mancions-Groulx (23:47.0). Third place went to Ottawa’s Benjamin Wlkinson-Zan (23:48.8).

The Mini
Close to 200 children, accompanied by their parents, showed up for this 2 km race, which we remind you is not timed. These young athletes in the making proudly crossed the finish line to the applause of their emotional fans. Inflatable structures, cookies and drinks awaited them. Gatineau’s 11 year-old Stéphanie Girard was the first to poke through the finish line, followed by 10 year-old Wade Clemenhagen, of the Chelsea Nordiq club. A big high five to them all!

A New Course?
Throughout the three days of the event, skiers were invited to fill out a survey to indicate their interest in a point A to point B event instead of the current loop. The feedback was very positive, and it will probably take a while to analyze the results. There are some obstacles, particularly in regard to funding and organization, but the skiers’ responses were enough to urge us on.

An International Event
With 22 participating countries, clearly the Gatineau Loppet is an international event. Several embassies wanted to mark the presence of participants from their countries. Thus, the 16 km starting signal was given by Sweden’s Ambassador, His Excellency Teppo Tauriainen. The 5 km was kicked off jointly by His Excellency Karel Žebrakovský, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Estonia, Riho Kruuv. The First Secretary of the Embassy of Switzerland, Bernadette Hurschler, handed the prizes to the winners of the 16 km and chocolates to all of the participants in this race. Robert Moulié, representative of the Embassy of France, was also at the Worldloppet cocktail, which celebrates our international participants. Special treats for the evening were arranged by the Embassy of Estonia, which provided beer samples, and the Embassy of Sweden, which offered blueberry soup, the customary refreshment at their feeding stations. Talk about getting a taste for exploring the world!

“In this first year as President, I had the privilege of seeing the incredible work done by the beautiful big Gatineau Loppet team. I am particularly proud to see that none of these people shy away from a challenge, and that “success” is their single currency. All of this came through very clearly at this 33rd edition,” indicated President Yan Michaud.

The organizers of the Gatineau Loppet would like to thank the 2,153 local and visiting skiers and the thousands of spectators who made this 33rd edition a resounding success right down the line. A special greeting to the 3 year-old, who was the youngest, and the 84 year-old, the event’s venerable patriarch.

Congratulations to all of the skiers. We hope to see you again next year for the 34th edition, from February 17 to 19, 2012.

Mora Vasaloppet Results and Videos – Liebsch and Winters Top Fields

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February 17, 2011 (Mora, MN) – Vasaloppet, renowned for its hometown hospitality, volunteer spirit and five races that challenge the expert racer and touring novice alike, was a success on Sunday, Feb. 13. with the help of 800 volunteers. A couple of participants in the 13K event loved the event so much, they tied the knot on the finish line! Check out the video.

Matthew Liebsch of Orono, MN won the overall 58K Freestyle race in a time of 2:38:20.3, for his third consecutive win at the Mora Vasaloppet, while Johanna Winters of Minneapolis scored top honours in the women’s competition with a time of 2:58:33.4. Not only did these two get the glory, they also won free trips to Sweden for the famous Swedish Vasaloppet.

In the 42K Classic, Eugeny Beletskiy of Minneapolis won the men’s race, crossing the finish line after 2:06:47. Molly Watkins, also from Minneapolis, won the women’s race, clocking in at 2:19:55.0.

Nathan Porath of Red Wing, MN was first across the finish in the Men’s 35K Freestyle event with a finish time of 1:28:41.2. Roseville, MN’s Angie won the women’s race in 1:37:34.0.

Thomas Egger Jr. from Edina, MN cruised to the 13K men’s Freestyle win in 40:19, while Mattie Watts of New Brighton, MN won the women’s race in 45:47.

In the hotly contested 58K relay, Team Clown Town took the victory in a time of 2:55:30.3.

Every finisher received a completion medal and in the Sweden Free competition, the first North American male and female finishers in the 58K race received a free trip to Sweden to compete in the following year’s Swedish Vasaloppet ski race!

Check out a video from the start of the 35K and 58K races.

For more videos, visit the VasaloppetUSA YouTube channel HERE.

Find more info and photos on the VasaloppetUSA Facebook page HERE.

58K Freestyle HERE.
42K Classic HERE.
35K Freestyle HERE.
13K Freestyle HERE.
58K Relay HERE.

Canadian Birkie Photos

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February 16, 2011 (Edmonton, AB) – Here are some great photos from this past weekend’s Canadian Birkie near Edmonton, courtesy of Cam McGregor, where nearly 2,000 participants threw on the boards for the 2011 edition. Skiers were greeted by sunny skies, and warm conditions, with temperatures reaching 5C – for the story and results, click HERE.

Canadian Birkie Enjoys Spring Conditions and Great Turnout – Full Results

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February 15, 2011 (Edmonton, AB) – Nearly 2,000 participants took to the snow on the weekend for the 2011 edition of the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival near Edmonton, AB. Skiers were greeted by 600 friendly volunteers, sunny skies, and warm conditions, with temperatures reaching 5C.

Organizers offered five events to suit all levels of participants – the legendary 55km Birkie with pack, 55km Birkie Lite, 31km Tour, 13km Mini Birkie, and an un-timed 2.5 or 4km Ole’s Tour for kids and novices.

Over 500 skiers kicked off the day with the 55km events, while the other Canadian Birkie offerings were equally well-attended. The Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival is a premier, affordable, family-oriented, friendly cross-country ski loppet honouring the spirit of the Norwegian Birkebeiner legend.

In the overall standings, Kirk Howell of Calgary won the 55km Birkebeiner with Pack in a time of 3:03:07, while the fastest woman, Wietske Eikelenboom from St. Albert, finished in a time of 3:45:42.

Top honours in the Birkie Lite went to Andrew Pohl from Camrose, who cruised through the 55km distance in 2:49:56. The women’s Birkie Lite winner was Karen Messenger, also of Camrose, with a time of 2:15:58.

Camrose’s Andrew Brisbin won the men’s overall 31km Journal Tour in 1:31:22 and neighbour Amanda Ammar took home the women’s title in 1:43:12.

The 13km Mini Birkie saw Fort McMurray’s Micah Killick snag the men’s victory in 42:42. Camrose’s Kathryn Stone won the women’s race in a time of 47:27.

55K Birkiebeiner Overall HERE. Age Groups HERE.
55K Birkie Lite Overall HERE. Age Groups HERE.
31K Tour Overall HERE. Age Groups HERE.
13K Mini Birkie Overall HERE.

Russian Ski Run Attracts 1.5 million Skiers

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February 15, 2011 – Approximately 1.5 million people participated in the Russian Ski Run 2011 cross country ski race held in 70 regions across the country on Sunday. The competition is open to everyone and has several distance options reports the RIA Novosti news site. The city of Yakhroma near Moscow had over 25,000 registrants on the cold, windy day. Participants included professional athletes to the oldest skier – a 78-year-old woman. Read the full story HERE.

2011 Equinox Ski Challenge – March 19-20

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February 14, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – The 2011 Equinox Ski Challenge will be held March 19-20 at the Rendezvous cross-country ski trails in West Yellowstone. Racers complete as many laps as they can and may enter as soloists or as members of a relay team of up to 8 members in 3-hour, 6-hour, 12-hour and 24-hour divisions. Kids 12 and under can race for free in the 24-minute challenge.

Bozeman resident Andy Gerlach, who raced on a 5-person team in the 24-hour division in 2010, said that “skiing at night is fabulous.”

“The reflections, the light…everything moves faster.”

Gerlach also noted the race went easier than he expected.

“The first lap was the hardest, and then it got better,” he said.

Gerlach added that having Toko ski wax representative Eric Mittelstaedt working on participants’ skis throughout the event went a long way in keeping them fast throughout the 24-hour ski race.

Wilson Dippo, who races for Bowdoin College in Maine, skied the Equinox for the first time in 2010 on a two-person, 24-hour team, and had a little less time to rest in between laps.

“I went out too hard for a 24-hour race,” he said.

Dippo said his first “bonk” hit around 8 p.m., after skiing with teammate Ian Anderson for nearly 10 hours.

Still, they rested, ate and recovered to ski through the night and win their division with 289.1 kilometers skied.

Dippo said he’s planning to return home to Salt Lake City over spring break and make the trip to West Yellowstone again, this time to ski the 24-hour solo division.

Melissa Alder and Kelli Sanders, owners of Free Heel & Wheel in West Yellowstone, thought first about entering as a two-person team for the 24-hour race, but instead opted to ski the 12-hour individual category so they could ski together.

“The costumes were great. The festive atmosphere was positive, energizing and made me want to keep skiing,” said Alder.

Proceeds from the race benefit the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation (WYSEF) and Manaia Youth Programs. Participants are also encouraged to bring food donations for the West Yellowstone Food Bank.

The event includes a Saturday evening potluck and an all-night bonfire at the start/finish line.

Before March 1, registration is $55/adult or $30/junior. Between March 1-March 15, the fee is $75/adult and $50/junior. Race-day registration is $90/adult and $60/junior. Registration discounts are available for racers who also volunteer at the race or who bring someone along to volunteer for them. Registration is free for kids under 12 participating in a 24-minute kids’ race.

For more information, visit www.equinoxskichallenge.com.

32nd Annual Yellowstone Rendezvous Race is Coming Soon – March 5

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February 08, 2011 (West Yellowstone, MT) – There is just under a month to go until the 32nd annual Yellowstone Rendezvous Race. Final preparations are in place and there is still time to train for the big day. Join hundreds of Nordic skiers at the start line on March 5th, 2011. Register before March 1 to avoid late fees and all registrations will be closed promptly at noon on Thursday, March 3.

Whether you are skiing for prize money or just to cross the finish line, all racers invited to the Yellowstone Rendezvous Race. True marathoners can enter the 50 kilometer race, which consists of two laps around the perimeter of the Rendezvous Ski Trail system. Skiers can choose the 25 kilometer event under classic or freestyle technique. The 10k race is open to skiers not ready for a long race, with the 5k and 2k races geared for kids.

Bring your friends and family and stay a few extra days. From skiing to sight-seeing, West Yellowstone is the home base for winter fun. There is no other place in the world where you can spend one day racing on 25 kilometers of professionally groomed trails and the next day see bison grazing next to hot springs or bald eagles soaring past geysers.

The Rendezvous Ski Trails are in great shape and the entire trail system is groomed with both a skate lane and classic track. With three feet of groomed packed powder on the ground and more on the way, there is no reason not to expect perfect corduroy for next month’s event. End your race season with a bang at the 32nd Annual Rendezvous Race.

There is still time to sign up for the Rendezvous Race. For more information, go to www.rendezvousrace.com.

Winter Trails 2011 on Jan. 8 – Free Snowshoeing and XC Skiing at 80 Locations

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January 06, 2011 – Winter Trails takes place this Saturday, January 8, 2011 at over 80 locations nationwide. Winter Trails offers children and adults, new to snow sports, a chance to try snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing FREE at venues throughout North America. There is no charge for the use of equipment or trails. Most locations offer snowshoeing AND cross country skiing. Some locations only offer snowshoeing. Current alpine skiers and/or snowboarders are also encouraged to try an alternative snow sport.

Winter Trails locations, hours and offerings are posted at www.wintertrails.org as they are announced. Venues include alpine resorts, Nordic centers, state parks, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service land. Details accompany each event’s listing on the Winter Trails website. Registration is also available on-site at each location.

There is no charge for equipment or trail fees. While most events take place on the “official date,” some are held on alternative dates. One of the largest – at Estes Park, Colorado – is being held on January 15, 2011 and is part of the Estes Park Winter Festival.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are winter outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by individuals, groups of friends and family members,” said Reese Brown, a Winter Trails organizer. “They are affordable, easy to learn and provide moderate to vigorous exercise, depending on an individual’s effort. With obesity rates in the U.S. at an all time high, Winter Trails can introduce active and not so active children and adults to sports that provide winter outdoor recreation.”

SnowSports Industries America (SIA), a national, non-profit trade association for snow sports suppliers, manages Winter Trails. Winter Trails sponsors and media partners included: Atlas, Backpacker Magazine, Crescent Moon Snowshoes, Cross Country Skier Magazine, MSR, Rossignol, SkiTrax, Snowshoe Magazine, Tubbs, Whitewoods, XCSkiresorts.com.

Nordic Meisters Begins Sixteenth Season at Great Glen Trails

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December 30, 2010 (Pinkham Notch, NH) – Nordic Meisters, the largest weekly cross country ski race series in the country, will begin its sixteenth season on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at Great Glen Trails. Nordic Meisters is a fun race series for all ability levels with $5,000 in prizes available through a participation raffle.

Nordic Meisters is a weekly cross country ski race series that allows skiers to compete at their own pace. From serious racers to beginning skiers, Nordic Meisters has divisions and courses for all ages and abilities. In addition, Nordic Meisters uses a unique age adjustment system to calculate the final times, so all skiers can compete on a level playing field. Points are awarded based on the order of finish in each category. Competitors race against the clock on either the long (5k) or short (2.5k) Nordic Meister courses using either skate or classic technique. Racers may log their times between 9:00am and 3:45pm for eight weeks from Tuesday, January 4 through Tuesday, March 1. (No race on Tuesday, February 22.) Competitors that complete 6 out of 8 weeks are eligible for placement awards (top three in each category) and the end of season prize raffle, which features more than $5,000 in prizes. The awards party and raffle will be held on Saturday, March 12.

For those looking to just enjoy the camaraderie of the series, Nordic Meisters also features an un-timed division. Untimed competitors are still eligible for the prize raffle, if they complete 6 of the 8 weeks.

Not just for skiers, Nordic Meisters also features a snowshoe division. Like the skiers, the snowshoe racers will have two courses to choose from. The long course will be just over 3k, while the short course will be approximately 1k. The snowshoe division will not use the age adjustment system but will offer placement awards, and all snowshoers that complete 6 out of 8 weeks will be eligible for the prize raffle.

Results are posted weekly in the Conway Daily Sun and on the Great Glen Trails website.

For more information and registration, visit www.GreatGlenTrails.com.

Quebec: Merci!

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December 1, 2009 (Quebec) – I’ve talked with many skiers who’re intrigued at the thought of visiting the French-Canadian province of Quebec. Mostly Americans ask questions such as “Do they have mountains?”, “They have snow?”, and “Do they speak English?” Respective answers are “Yes,” “Yes, lots!,” and “Mostly.” Oh yeah, and suitably important I’ll add that the skiing is fantastic. You’ll find cross-country resorts, day areas and inns that rival the best anywhere in North America, great terrain and grooming (note there are many more classic than skating trails) and absolutely phenomenal dining (believe me, it’s not just “food”!). Hospitality, history (more on that in a moment), it’s all waiting in Quebec. To test endearing memories from my last visit more than 10 years ago, I flew from Colorado to Quebec City this past March, saw some old friends and new places and confirmed that skiing there is a treat unlike any other.

Capital City Skiing
There are hundreds of kilometres of groomed trails at a dozen areas within an hour’s drive of spectacular old Quebec City. And anywhere you go, it’s truly another culture, from language to architecture and cuisine.

I started off in the city itself, on the Plains of Abraham trails that wind across National Battlefields Park. There’s no really advanced skiing here, since many of the routes follow summer roads, but there’s a nice mix of wood and open space.

It was fascinating to watch big freighters gliding along the St. Lawrence, bellying through ice-clogged water. It was even more of a treat to ski among old cannons pointed toward the river and around centuries-old fortress-tower walls.

I’m fascinated by history, so it was a little awe-inspiring to ski across the battlefield where Englishman General Wolfe defeated Frenchman General Montcalm in 1759. The big deal here is that the battle pretty much determined that the English would control Canada.

Cross-country concessionaire Colette Pepin, formerly on Canada’s Olympic rowing team, is a ball of fire, full of smiles and energy and ideas. You can rent ski packages, snowshoes and kicksleds at the Discovery Pavilion, a little off the trails. There’s a bit more classic skiing than skating, plus walking and snowshoeing routes.

The Everything-Resort
It’s been grooming since some time in the 1970s, but Station Touristique Duchesnay really became a Nordic destination when a 48-room hotel opened in 2003. It’s a winter mecca, roughly a half-hour drive from Quebec City, with so much to enjoy in addition to cross-country that a multi-day stay is definitely in order. Other activities include tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, even an elegant new spa.

The resort is a full-service ski operation. The day lodge, L’Horizon, rents both waxable and waxless classic skis as well as snowshoes and has a snack bar, retail shop, lounge and games room. It’s also the centre for day tours and instruction (by reservation) and the jumping-off point for more than 70 kilometres of trails — track or classic ski a half-kilometre, dip down through a tunnel and then take off on an increasing number of diverging routes, most of the near-in ones easier and farther ones longer.

There’s a lot of fun ski terrain left by glaciers — hills, valleys (La Vallonnée is probably the resort’s signature trail), ponds, with fine views of sizable Lac Saint-Joseph and maple and yellow birch forest, with occasional bursts of fir and spruce. A great many of trails are groomed for classic skiing only and most are one-way. A little atypical for Quebec, there’s only one skating trail, a there-and-back 25-kilometre route.

I really enjoyed the heated trailside huts, where skiers lazed around in the March sun and birds land to feed from your hand. You can also stay overnight at most of the shelters, though conditions are rustic.

Station Duchesnay has all kinds of lodging fairly near the trailhead, from lakeside cabins with kitchens, to the hotel complete with restaurant, bistro-bar and even an indoor pool. For a unique treat and a one-of-a-kind memory, check out the spectacular and graceful Hotel de Glace, built of ice and snow.

High, Deep and Dry
On the drive up to Camp Mercier, I thought about the enormous contrasts to Station Duchesnay – weather (transitioning from light rain to sloppy snow as I climbed), distance, services, amenities, winter emphasis – it’s all different.

Camp Mercier is only about 50 kilometres north of Quebec City. It’s a pure ski-and-snowshoe resort, a much wilder-feeling place than Station Duchesnay. You’re surrounded by coniferous forest, which happily gives good protection from the wind.

If you’re looking for deep snow, dry snow and a long ski season, this is the place to go, although it’s barely known to Americans, who tend to visit Mont-Ste-Anne. You can figure on five to six metres (16-20 feet) over a four-month winter, where the lowest point on the trail network is more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) higher than the highest point at Station Duchesnay.

There are only a couple of skating trails versus 15 or so classic doubletrack trails (52 kilometres total), five heated shelters – most of them pretty well out on the trail system – and another 20 kilometres of new and separately marked snowshoe trails. The higher you go, the better the views.

There’s really no expert skiing at Camp Mercier, but plenty of fun and simply great terrain along hills and ridges, streams and lakes. One of the things I enjoyed most was trailside interpretive signs, touching on everything from trees to rabbits.

The Chalet Mercier day lodge rents waxless and waxable classic skis as well as snowshoes, but not skating gear. There’s no instruction available, but there’s a small pleasant cafe, waxing area, small retail shops and large lounge. Signs, maps and printed materials are all in French, but some of the staff speak excellent English.

Lodging is simple but very pleasant cabins with electricity, showers, kitchen and wood stoves. I stayed in the Chalet Lac-a-Noel cabin #2 and skied right down to trail #2.

Speaking of wild, the afternoon’s weather began with rain showers, sleet and wind, and changed to dry snow, dropping several inches overnight, while the temperature fell 5°C – and this was in March!

Incidentally, Camp Mercier, Mont-Ste-Anne and Station Duchesnay offer a shared pass for up to five days.

Pierres’ Cross-Country Ski Area
Monte-Ste-Anne (MSA) may have the largest groomed network in Canada, so well maintained in summer that it only needs 10 centimetres (four inches) of packed snow to open some trails.

Statistics aren’t everything but they say a lot – more than 100 non-repeat kilometres, including many with a skate lane. There’s a mix of doubletrack, doubletrack with skating, a skate-only route, even singletrack. MSA simply offers great skiing, with almost-endless options, with short loops near the base and longer loops farther out. Easier trails are near the Centre, black diamonds the farthest out, with lots of intermediate trails in between, and forest everywhere. There’s even riverside skiing. The views are fantastic, and you can overnight at several of the rustic warming huts. The area has a full-scale Centre (Chalet du Rang St. Julien) with rentals, retail, instruction, cafeteria and lounge.

When I think of Monte-Ste-Anne, I think of two Pierres. Pierre Vezina is a human dynamo, was a Canadian National Team member and has been the Nordic director since 1986, while multiple World Cup winner Pierre Harvey (father of current Canadian National Team member Alex Harvey) lives near the trails.

My final day at the resort, I skied with (well, behind if you must know) Vezina. At one point, I was passed by an inspiring, fantastically fit, smiling, 82-year-old woman on classic skis. An hour later, heading back to the lodge, we followed a winding route where moose tracks crisscrossed the trail a dozen times.

I found that a great way to end the day at Monte-Ste-Anne is to stop off at the elegant Zonespa (www.zonespa.com), right on the road back to the main resort. You’ll be suitably refreshed for the evening, and the next day’s activities.

Mo’ Info
Two good resources on cross-country skiing in Quebec are www.xcskiingquebec.com (it describes areas near Quebec City) and www.rssfrq.qc.ca (it covers the whole province).

Quebec City
The Plains of Abraham have 12.6 kilometres of free groomed trails, 3.8 kilometres of snowshoeing trails, walking trails, heated shelters, equipment rentals, a waxing area and instruction. The ski season can run as long as late November into April.

If you’re looking for lodging, I recommend the imposing Loews Le Concorde Hotel (www.loewsleconcorde.com), a moment’s walk from the trails. It caters to cross-country skiers, and there are fantastic views from the 27th-floor revolving restaurant.

Station Touristique Duchesnay
The four-season resort (www.sepaq.com/duchesnay) offers a wonderful variety of activities, from snowmobiling to spa, and has 88 rooms spread between villas, lodges and the hotel. You can also stay at the 3,000-square-metre Ice Hotel (www.icehotel-canada.com).

There are 71 kilometres of groomed cross-country trails and 20 kilometres of separate marked snowshoe trails. The ski season typically runs from the second weekend in December into late March. Trail passes are included with accommodations, with all kinds of packages available. The elevation range is 738-1,148 feet.

Camp Mercier
It’s a ski/snowshoe day and destination area. You can usually ski from early December through early April on 50-plus kilometres of groomed trails. If it is ever closed, it is due to lack of guests, not snow. Cabins go from approximately $59/person [CDN], double occupancy – overnight privileges include skiing and snowshoeing plus tubing and ice skating nearby. You’ll need to bring linens, bedding and groceries. The elevation range is 2,306-3,277 feet. Website HERE.

Monte-Ste-Anne’s 100-plus-kilometre ski trail system and 40-plus-kilometre separate snowshoe network (www.mont-sainte-anne.com) can often open in November and stay open into April. It’s a famous four-season resort with alpine skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, even paragliding a few miles from the cross-country Centre. The elevation range is 1,200-2,100 feet.

My favourite accommodations are at trailside B&B L’Auberge du Fondeur, famous but not fancy, with its wine and coffee bar, lunch and dinner kitchen privileges, lounge, waxing room and sauna. Lodging includes ski passes. An option at the alpine resort is the full-service Chateau Mont-Sainte-Anne (chateaumsa.com).