Tabernash " Cross country areas need to promote sports benefits, ‘green-ness’ better
Sky-Hi Daily News
Cross-country skiing is a health-enhancing, eco-friendly sport that’s easy to learn under the guidance of professional instructors as well as being an affordable recreational activity that can best be enjoyed at a quality resort with groomed trails.
That’s the message of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association’s Annual Convention held at Devil’s Thumb Ranch near Tabernash last week. More than 80 individuals representing 44 ski areas, 16 ski equipment suppliers, three ski associations, and tour groups and ski shops attended the four-day convention at the local ranch, which is one of the nation’s premier Nordic ski centers.
The majority of convention attendees came from ski areas in the Rocky Mountain West but several also came from the East and West coasts. Participants also included four Canadians, one Australian, a New Zealander and an Argentinean.
“We had a good representation of the Nordic ski areas in the United States,” said Chris Frado, the CCSAA’s president and executive director for the past 20 years. “We had an excellent exchange of information and ideas.”
Frado described the health of the cross-country skiing industry in the United States as excellent.
“When we have the snow, we do very well,” she said. “Today’s skiers are looking for and demanding quality for their time and money. They want to go to ski areas that offer quality grooming and facilities.”
While upbeat in her assessment, Frado said the one big problem that cross-country ski areas and Nordic skiing professionals are still trying to overcome is a misperception of the sport that was fostered back in the 1970s when it first emerged on the national scene.
Frado explained that the old promotional slogans such as “if you can walk, you can cross-country ski” and “you can cross-country ski out your backdoor” helped skew the image of the sport in the public’s mind.
“The message was that all you needed was snow and skis to go cross-country skiing,” she said. “It gave people an easy invitation into the sport. But when they took that invitation, a lot of them ended up being disappointed and frustrated because they didn’t have the right equipment, didn’t take lessons and didn’t try it on groomed trails.
“In hindsight, that message did a disservice to them and the sport.”
The challenge for today’s cross-country ski industry is to re-educate the public about what the sport is and what it has to offer to them.
“What we should have been saying was come out and learn to ski the right way and then enjoy this sport for a lifetime,” Frado said. “Part of our message has to be to get the public to learn cross-country skiing from dedicated professional instructors who can teach how to do it with less effort.”
Another aspect of the message is to get the public to try Nordic skiing on groomed trails.
“Our message also has to encourage people to do their skiing at our marvelous resorts that offer groomed trails at an affordable price,” she said. ” We have a cornucopia of choice in ski resorts across North America with a vast diversity of trails. It really is a sport for all ages and abilities.”
Another misperception that needs changing is in the area of Nordic ski equipment. Frado said many people tried the sport using outdated equipment that is not even close to the quality and performance of today’s gear.
“Please use current equipment,” Frado said. “Cross-country ski equipment has changed so much from the 1970s. The skis are more maneuverable today and the boot-binding combinations are greatly improved. This newer equipment makes it so much easier to ski.
“And today’s cross-country ski equipment is still much more affordable than alpine skis.”
Another part of the message that today’s Nordic ski centers want to emphasize is the “green” or environmental aspect of Nordic skiing and cross-country ski resorts.
“The one thing about cross-country ski areas is that they are pretty darn green,” Frado said. “When I go skiing, I feel like I’m embracing the Earth and I feel hugged by it in return. Cross-country skiing is part of a healthy, vibrant lifestyle.”
To help promote its message, the CCSAA is relying heavily on the Internet.
“We’re fortunate today to be able to use the Internet,” Frado said. “It’s such a wonderful asset. The association’s Web site http://www.xcski.org is the No. 1 site of Google for the sport, based solely on the depth and breath of its content. Our goal is to further improve it to make it even more valuable to our customers.”
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The Mustangs cross country team trudged through a muddy 5K Saturday morning during the West Grand Invitational, a race that slowed times but sent the fun factor through the roof for many of its competitors.