By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
Downhill skiing and snowboarding are the most obvious winter sports in the area, but the valley’s Nordic scene is keeping its speed. Local Nordic centers have groomed tracks for cross-country skiing and designated trails for snowshoeing.
There are two types of cross-country skiing styles: classic and skate. Classic skiing is the original Nordic skiing style, where skiers stride forward with a heel lift, keeping their skis parallel to each other. Skate skiing is higher speed and, unlike classic, requires groomed snow. Skate skiers glide forward by pushing their skis out side-to-side, like an ice-skating glide.
Mia Stockdale, owner of the Vail Nordic Center, said classic skiing is a good way to begin your Nordic journey.
“We recommend people start with classic skiing first and a get good foundation in that,” she said. “Skate skiing is much tougher to pick up. A beginner lesson is great to get you started and on the right track.”
Nordic centers complement the tucked-away trails in the area, so locals and visitors can cross-country ski or snowshoe on groomed snow or get out to find their own snowy adventure.
VAIL NORDIC CENTER
Stockdale said the Vail Nordic Center’s retail shop has clothing for cross-country skiing, running, snowshoeing and hiking.
“We have a complete wax center and carry Swix and HWK waxes,” she said. “We sell classic, skate and light backcountry skis and snowshoes.”
The center rents cross-country skis and snowshoes and also has a daily lesson operation for Nordic skiing.
“Our 17 kilometers of ski trails are right outside our door, with a great mix of flat and hilly terrain,” Stockdale said.
The Nordic center has 10 kilometers of separate snowshoe trails. She said they are “flat, well-marked and easy to follow.”
Beginner skiers can start with the Stable Flats loops, and for more experienced skiers, Stockdale recommends Designator Loop. There is an $8 trail fee for all of the Vail Nordic Center ski and snowshoe trails.
Vail Nordic Center on-site rental rates are $17 for a classic package, $22 for skate-ski package, $17 for snowshoe package and $10 for children 12 and younger. A sled to pull children is also available for a $15 rental fee.
Beginner group lessons are $45 for adults ($56 with rental) or $40 for youth ages 13 to 17 ($37 with rental). One-hour private lessons are also available for $55 for adults, with $11 discounted rental rate, or for teens, one-hour private lessons are $50, with a $7 discounted rental rate. Add a person to an adult or youth lesson for another $35 per hour.
BEAVER CREEK NORDIC SPORTS CENTER
Just steps from the Strawberry Park Express Left, the Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center is a seven-minute lift ride to McCoy Park to Beaver Creek’s scenic Nordic and snowshoe trail system.
“The Beaver Creek Nordic Center’s location is second to none,” said Nate Goldberg, product manager for Nordic sports for the Nordic center.
McCoy Park sits at 9,840 feet, offering 32 kilometers of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.
“Guided tours offer local knowledge and spectacular views of the Beaver Creek Village,” Goldberg said of McCoy Park cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as other wooded areas that can been accessed on snowshoes. “In the aspen groves, guests stroll in unparalleled tranquility, soaking up all the mountains have to offer.”
Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center also offers on-site gear rentals. An adult cross-country package is $34 for a full day or $29 for a half day, or get a full-day rental for $29 with the purchase of a lesson. Child and senior cross-country packages are $29 for a full day or $20 for a half day. A cross-country or skate-ski performance package is $41 for a full day or $33 for a half day. Snowshoe rentals start at $14 for children and $25 for adults (boots and poles can also be rented).
Introductory cross-country lessons and snowshoe tours at set times are $103, which includes track access fee. Two-hour private cross-country lessons or snowshoe tours are $285; half-day private cross-county lessons or snowshoe tours are $395; and full-day private cross-country lessons are $600. Reservations are required, and prices do not include lift access.
Locals and Olympic hopefuls often cross-country ski at Maloit Park, on the outskirts of Minturn. The area has about 10 kilometers of groomed trails, used frequently for training by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
Anyone can enjoy snowshoeing in the Maloit Park area, which is located a few hundred yards behind the Minturn Fitness Center. Goldberg recommends reading up on backcountry trails before you go.
“I always recommend people visit the Colorado Cross Country Ski Association website for updates and information on other participating Nordic centers in and around Colorado,” he said.
For a non-resort experience, which can work for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, Goldberg recommends Meadow Mountain, Tennessee Pass and Vail Pass as good options.
The Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center is offering a trail-to-table experience this season, with three different styles of Gourmet Snowshoe Adventures. The weekly events lead visitors from the Nordic Center into the tall aspen glades near Allie’s Cabin for a 90-minute forest walk and then back to The Osprey at Beaver Creek for a delicious finish.
“Snowshoers trade their boots for warm slippers at the foyer of The Osprey Hotel,” said Nate Goldberg, product manager for Nordic sports for the Nordic Center. “A cozy fireplace and intimate dining setting creates the perfect place for family and friends to warm up, enjoy apres gourmet decadence and recap their adventures together.”
Beaver Creek Gourmet Snowshoe Adventure 2016 schedule:
• 12:30-3 p.m. Wednesdays — Women’s Wednesday Walk & Wine
• 3-5:30 p.m. Thursdays — Winter Wine Excursions
• 3:30-6:30 p.m. Fridays — Fondue & Shoe
Contact Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center at 970-754-5313 to reserve a spot on one of the Gourmet Snowshoe Adventures. Price is $140 per person and includes equipment, guided tour, Buckaroo Gondola lift access and an apres experience at The Osprey. The Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center is available for private snowshoe sessions, too, if visitors are looking for a personal or group adventure at a time they prefer. Visit www.beavercreek.com/gourmetsnowshoe for more information.