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Grand Nordic Corner: Gearing up for a great Nordic season

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic president
Diana Lynn Rau, Grand County Trails

Nature keeps teasing us! We get 2 inches one day, 3 the next, then a sunny or windy day! But it is all starting to pile up. Some areas around Winter Park and Fraser already have skiable trails, just don’t break out your good skis yet! The higher areas leading to the waterboard roads are getting savvy, early-season skiers and snowshoers already with their older gear, and very little is melting anymore. 

Every Nordic skier should always have two or three pairs of skis — one pair of “rock skis” that already have a few dings, one pair of everyday classic skis and one pair of everyday skate skis if you use both techniques. Some even add a pair of racing skis to that list. 

A great place to pick up older used gear is the Annual Nordic Ski Swap and Expo that just finished up at Snow Mountain Ranch on Oct. 22. This collaboration of Grand Nordic and the Winter Park Competition Center offered great inventory of used gear priced to go to good homes — poles for $3, reasonable skis for $5 to $20 and better stuff for $100 or $200. Raffles, ski cleaning and a peek at new gear from the gear reps got everyone into the ski spirit! Most of the used items were donated to Grand Nordic as people cleaned out their garages at the end of the season or before moving. Donation boxes are or soon will be at the Fraser and Granby libraries and the Grand Park Recreation Center in Fraser. People interested in donating can also call Grand Nordic.



Other places for good used gear or gear specials are Winter Park Trading Co. in Winter Park and the Nordic centers at Devils Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranch. Nordic retail shops like Icebox in Fraser, Never Summer in Grand Lake, or (if you head to Boulder) Boulder Nordic Sport are clearing last year’s gear to make room on their shelves for new gear coming in daily. Get your footbeds and boots set up now for best performance at Le Feet Lab in Winter Park or Local Experience in Fraser. 

Snow Mountain Ranch is planning to open their retail shop on Monday, Nov. 21, according to Parker Anderson, the ranch’s Nordic director. Some trails are being rolled up higher, but what trails and how many trails will open depends on the weather gods. As usual, Blue Ridge seems to be catching a lot of the white stuff — in some places there are feet of powder — but most attainable spots are just getting started. Shawn will be grooming again this year and he is a master of early season conditions. Always check the website for trail information.



Devils Thumb Ranch is set to open their Nordic areas on Thursday, Nov. 24, according to Nordic director Marie-Ange Anderson. The shop will be open and hopefully some limited trails will be as well. In the shadow of the Continental Divide, the early snow is coming in spurts, but it is definitely accumulating. Their early season Tommelfest is scheduled for Dec. 10 with details currently posted on their website. The resort is closed this week for their employees to rest and prepare for the new season. Check their website for current trail conditions.

Grand Lake Nordic Center is waiting until December to decide an opening date since they currently have only a skiff of snow, according to director Don Campbell. They are still the small, hidden gem of Nordic areas next to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Free Nordic Ski Lessons hosted by Grand Nordic and Snow Mountain Ranch are back this year on Sunday, Dec. 11, and Sunday Jan. 8. These free events feature the best instructors in the valley from Grand Nordic, Winter Park Competition Center and Colorado Nordic Masters. Both classic and skate lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, plus kids never-ever, classic and skate are available in both mornings and afternoons. Groups max at about 10, so sign up as soon as possible. Grand Nordic offers free trail passes and equipment rentals for their members.

The Grand Nordic Free Friday Kids program will again excite the 5- to 10-year-olds at Snow Mountain Ranch in January and February (except for Ski for Light Week Feb. 3) with free classic, skate and never-ever lessons from 1-2:30 p.m. Equipment and trail passes are included, and parents are encouraged to help. Sign-up is required.

The Ranch2Ranch Trek is the main fundraiser for Grand Nordic’s scholarships and other youth programs. The trek is will be held on either Feb. 11 or 12 with start waves available from 9-11 a.m. starting at Snow Mountain Ranch and heading via the Fraser-to-Granby Trail to Granby Ranch. It’s the best social ski of fantastic terrain possible!

Any racers out there? New this year the Grand County Nordic Race Series is offered at Snow Mountain Ranch, Devils Thumb, Grand Lake and maybe Granby Ranch. Details will be available in early December.

To sign up for these events or check conditions, go to the All Things Nordic website SkiGrandNordic.org, the club website GrandNordic.org or call/text Grand Nordic at 970-887-0547. 

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