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Grand Nordic Corner: Weekend’s fun a sign of more to come

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic President
Spectators watch during a skate race at Snow Mountain Ranch on Jan. 7, 2023.
Grand Nordic/Courtesy photo

The snows have not disappointed and Shawn, the Snow Mountain Ranch groomer, has taken full advantage. The grooming for the Snow Mountain Ranch Skate Race on Saturday was excellent for over 100 racers in the 15K and 7.5K races and another 50 in the 3K and family tour who grinned from ear to ear at the chance to finally race again — some of the younger racers (starting at age 7) giggled as they passed some of the more timid older racers on the downhills. Racers came from Front Range communities, Steamboat, Summit County and maybe further just to enjoy the racing camaraderie that has not happened since COVID began. With a start and finish based out of the Legett building, the 7.5K loop circled the Just and Audun trails with all their ups and downs and curves and looped through the valley below. On a clear blue Colorado day, it was like skiing in heaven!

From the parking greeter who directed you upon arrival at Snow Mountain Ranch, to a simple registration complete with goodies, to the course markings, festive flags and noisemakers, plus a crowd to encourage you, the whole race atmosphere with all its fun and amicable competition among friends has returned! This was the first in the Grand County Nordic Race Series and went off without a hitch thanks to a new dedicated race committee with input from Grand Nordic, Colorado Nordic Masters, Winter Park Competition Center, and various employees and volunteers from Snow Mountain Ranch, Devils Thumb Ranch and Grand Lake Nordic. This collaboration ushers in a new era of Nordic skiing in Grand County promising a bright future.

Spectators watch during a skate race at Snow Mountain Ranch on Jan. 7, 2023.
Grand Nordic/Courtesy photo

The racers were all smiles from start to finish between enjoying the homemade soups and bread offered afterwards, celebrating the medals and ribbons given to class winners, finding new friends, having a fun time, and the joy of an incredible Colorado bluebird day. The families and youth racers are the focus of this program, with junior racers 18 and under able to sign up for only $10 per race or a free family and kids tour offered at each of the series races. The six-race series gives a discount to enter the entire six races but only your top four finishes count toward series standing. You even get to choose from a series of longer races or shorter starting at just 7.5K and maxing out at the Stampede 50Ks for the endurance athlete.



The next race in the series is Saturday, Jan 13, when the Annual Snow Mountain Classic challenges the classic skier for either 15K, 7.5K or 3K . Come with a friend and join the fun! Races start at 10 a.m. again from the Legett building. The series benefits the Grand Nordic Youth Scholarship fund so it is also an investment in the Nordic future of our kids.

Find more information on the series and direct links to the individual races at SkiGrandNordic.org as well as free or low cost kids programs in January, February or March at Snow Mountain Ranch, schools and Recreation districts in East Grand. Kids programs are also detailed on GrandNordic.org as well as volunteer opportunities to help teach or even just help kids put on their skis and boots at these youth programs. Grand County offers some of the best programs anywhere because of its volunteers. So come join the family and help out your local school. The kids are amazing!



Participants join in a free Nordic lesson Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, at Snow Mountain Ranch.
Grand Nordic Center/Courtesy photo

Free Nordic lessons 

On Sunday, Grand Nordic coordinated the last of our free community lessons at Snow Mountain Ranch for almost 100 people in morning and 100 again in the afternoon on another beautiful sunny but slightly colder day. Ranging in age from 5 to almost 75, from total beginner to beautiful skiers, they came to learn more. Some learned how to stay warm and comfortable sliding in snow. Some learned how to just have fun. Some learned serious weight transfers and balancing skills. 

Instructors came from Grand Nordic, Colorado Nordic Masters, Winter Park Competition Center, Snow Mountain Ranch, Ski for Light, Colorado Biathlon and various coaches from Middle Park High School or East Grand Middle School programs. These instructors volunteer their time and share their knowledge so new participants can try Nordic and learn enough in one lesson to enjoy the rest of the year with their families. Better skiers can learn new skills or try to perfect the skills they have. It is our way of giving back to the community! Try a lesson and see how much better you can be. Nordic Centers like Snow Mountain Ranch offer both group and private lessons as well as you can talk to the instructors you meet at our lessons.

Backcountry dangers

Be prepared if you decide to go into the backcountry. Snowpack is the most precarious and unpredictable seen in years. We have already lost too many lives this season — don’t you be the next.

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