10Best USA Today Poll for Best XC Ski Areas
The results are in for the 10Best Readers’ Choice contest for cross country ski areas. The poll was conducted by USA Today where voters picked their favorite North American XC ski resorts.
A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Peter Ashley (former Fischer Ski employee and USSA administrator), Reese Brown (Cross Country Ski Areas Association executive director), John Morton (former Olympian and trail designer/builder), Liz Stephen (US Ski Team competitor) and Jonathan Wiesel (Nordic Group International consultant) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the North American cross country ski scene.
Check out more info about the highlighted ski areas on XCSkiResorts.com, which has visited these areas and recommends them from among the list of the top 10 winners in the 10Best Cross Country Ski Resort 2017 Readers' Choice awards, which are as follows:
1. White Grass Touring Center - Davis, WV
2. Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center - Truckee, CA
3. Devil's Thumb Ranch - Tabernash, CO
4. Mont-Sainte-Anne Nordic Centre - Beaupre, QC
5. Latigo Ranch - Kremmling, CO
6. Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre - Vernon, BC
7. Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, MT
8. Silver Star Mountain Resort - Vernon, BC
9. Jackson Ski Touring Center - Jackson, NH
10. Methow Trails - Winthrop, WA
Snow Begins to Fly and Areas are Opening
There have been reports of snow cover across the continent from Washington to Minnesota and Michigan reaching into New York and higher elevations in New England.
Snowmaking operations are gearing up for XC ski areas such as Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Cross Country Ski Headquarters, Breckenridge Nordic Center, and Rikert Nordic Center. For a list of XC ski areas with snowmaking see Snowmaking Pays-Off article.
Methow Trails in Winthrop, Washington is officially open for the 2017-2018 cross country ski season and is enjoying some good early season ski conditions with 21 miles of XC ski trails groomed and available for both classic and skate skiing. Skiers are required to ski with a trail pass on groomed trails. Kids 17 and under ski free everyday and Canadians ski at par.
In addition to XC skiing, visitors to the Methow can also enjoy snowshoeing, fat biking, ice skating, and backcountry skiing. The winter Olympics in South Korea start on Feb 9 and Winthrop is proud to have two hometown, cross-country ski Olympians representing the US, brother and sister duo Erik and Sadie Bjornsen. In addition, Brian Gregg, from Winthrop, also may be joining the US Olympic team like he did in 2014. That would mean 3 cross-country ski Olympians from an area with less than 6,000 people!
Season Pass Offers
Season pass offers abound at this time of year. The Colorado Punch Pass gives you 14 + trail passes at 9 resorts and unlimited trail passes at 2 resorts plus lodging, rentals, and tour discounts. The Punch Pass is $99 until Dec 1 ($120 after) and some of the areas that are included include Breckenridge Nordic, Keystone, Vail, and Aspen.
The NH Reciprocal program offers skiers 50% off trail passes at other participating resorts. Some participants include Great Glen Trails, Jackson Ski Touring, Bretton Woods, Gunstock Mountain, Waterville Valley,
The Ski Vermont Cross Country Reciprocal Program offers season pass holders from participating XC ski areas a one-time, complimentary trail pass for a single day of XC skiing or snowshoeing at any other participating XC ski area including among others Bolton Valley, Craftsbury Outdoors, Kingdom Trails, Mountain Top, Rikert, Sleepy Hollow, Trapp Family Lodge, Viking, and Woodstock Inn.
Lapland Lake in Northville, NY gives season pass holders a Bring a Friend coupon good for a one-time use for free ski trail pass on weekdays or half price on weekends/holidays.
Check out the XC ski area closest to you for their season pass offer!
Olympic Torch Ignited and on the Way to South Korea
The NY Times reported that the Olympic Torch flame was lit in Greece to begin the countdown and relay run to the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The lighting of the torch traces back to the games in ancient times. The torch will travel 5,300 miles and reach South Korea on Nov 1 when it will be run through the towns of South Korea for 100 days until arriving at the opening ceremony is Feb 9.
According to Fortune Inc. the trip is 1,200 miles (different number of miles than in the NY Times report) and there will be 7,500 torchbearers, who will carry it to the destination by plane, ship, train, sailboat, robot, zip wire, cable car, and bicycle. News is that the escalating crisis on the Korean peninsula has seriously hurt ticket sales for the upcoming games. But once the torch is lit at the opening ceremonies, then the fun begins!
Shopping at Ski Swaps
Looking for inexpensive used skis, boots, snowshoes, and other gear? Ski swaps are a traditional outlet for finding products at a low price. It is suggested that you Google "tips for ski swaps" to find articles that review the pros and cons of shopping for gear at ski swaps. Additionally, on Google you can find ski swaps in your area.
For Nordic (XC) skis and boots, the bindings on the skis are a key issue - they must match the boot type (NNN or Salomon and all of the specific versions). If you are considering waxless bases, check the pattern on the ski base to see that it is not too worn out or "too old to hold." Of course, there are also the ski swap shopping techniques for finding that specific item and beating someone else to it.
If you want to sell products at a swap be aware of the dates to drop gear off and price them low to move while remembering you will have to split the proceeds with the swap organizer (25-50% depending on organizer). Many of the swaps include ski retailers, who offer a larger selection of gear and price products at much higher than the individuals price their gear to sell. Contact your local XC ski area, retailer, or club to ask if they know about upcoming ski swaps that will have XC ski gear. It is suggested that you call in advance to make sure that there will be XC ski or snowshoe equipment available at the swap.
Winter Weather Outlook - Fact or Fiction?
The Old Farmers’ Almanac predicts the weather using its own mix of folk lore and natural observations for 200 years, and it has forecast a “snowier-than-normal” 2017-18 winter for the Northeast from the mid-Atlantic to the Canadian border. The forecast has even “red-flagged” five time periods for heavy precipitation along the Atlantic Seaboard: Jan. 20-23; Feb. 4-7, 16-19; and March 1-3, 20-23. Does this mean a late start to the winter in the East?
The Almanac’s Winter Outlook also calls for cold with average to moderate snow but not as harsh as usual in the Central and Mountain regions. The prediction is for the Northwest to be cold but drier than normal and the far west to be mild with average precipitation.
Place your bets. The Almanac's annual weather summary by region for Nov 2017 – Oct 2018 can be accessed at https://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange
Byrncliff Resort in Western NY Changes Name for 50th Anniversary
Byrncliff Golf Resort & Banquets, widely known for its golf course and the Route 20A announced its 50th anniversary. For the 50th anniversary, Byrncliff has changed its name from Byrncliff “Resort and Conference Center” to Byrncliff “Golf Resort and Banquets” to refocus towards its number one product: golf.
Byrncliff was founded in 1967 in Varysburg, NY by Clifford Meidenbauer and a group of other investors who had a vision to create a country club in the beautiful rolling hills of Varysburg, Wyoming Country, just 35 minutes south of Buffalo. Years later, the country club was expanded to a wider audience as a semi private golf resort, adding a club house, lodging, hotel, and banquets/conference centers.
Today, Byrncliff features a picturesque 18-hole golf course par 72, a full service restaurant and bar, overnight lodging, a driving range, mini-golf, and a heated pool. In the winter, Byrncliff is the closest place to Buffalo that offers cross country skiing with rentals and beautifully groomed tracks. Many people snowmobile on the property and love it.
The golf course, itself, is reputable for being beautiful, quiet but also challenging thanks to its rolling hills. It provides a great playground for golfers of all skill levels, groups, locals from Western New York as well as tourists from the Eastern US and Ontario, wanting to either golf, dine, or gather for any social occasions and experience the quiet beauty, and the warm hospitality.
Byrncliff’s “All Inclusive Stay & Play” packages (unlimited golf + hotel + dinner & breakfast) offers a very competitive price, and it has a restaurant, famous for delivering delicious steaks, fish frys, chicken wings or all you can eat crab legs that many appreciate – you can take advantage of the bar but also of the wide windows to take in the views; else you can dine on the patio and relax. Byrncliff also has many rooms to choose from for any social occasions, weddings, or business meetings.
Byrncliff works to support the community by employing up to 80 employees in the summer peak season. It helps fundraise for a number of associations, such as the Mission league, holds the Cardboard Olympics to help fundraise for the Varysburg firefighters and Rescue squad.
“After 50 years of growth, Byrncliff is poised to continue to expand. I want to extend my sincere thanks to our customers for all of their past and continued support” says owner Scott Meidenbauer.
Outdoor Recreation's Impact on the Economy
In a 2016 study from the Vermont Trails & Greenway Council conducted at 4 major Vermont trail networks there were 410,000 annual users who were responsible for $15 million in direct sales, $2 million in tax revenues, and $30 million in total economic activity in the state. A recent Outdoor Industry Association study cited $884 billion per year was spent nationally on outdoor gear and travel. Yeah, that's a big number!
In 2014, the Top 10 National Parks had 44 million visitors. The National Park Service generated $30 billion in economic activity and 275,000 jobs. Again, that is just the National Park Service, which is just a small part of the overall outdoors recreation business!
Crosscut Mountain Sports Center Acquires Bohart Ranch Property
The Crosscut Mountain Sports Center (CMSC) in Bozeman, MT announced closing on the long awaited acquisition of Bohart Ranch in Bridger Canyon. This landmark deal represents a commitment to continuing the Nordic skiing legacy at Bohart Ranch that Bozeman residents have cherished since the 1980s.
“After nearly sixty years of skiing in Bridger Canyon, it’s really special to see this legacy of mountain recreation continue,” said Cliff Montagne, longtime Bozeman resident and CMSC Board member.
Bohart Ranch is one of two iconic Bridger Canyon properties that CMSC plans to assemble in 2017. When conjoined, this iconic property will comprise over 500 acres adjacent to the Bridger Bowl Ski Area, and will include a network of trails for non-motorized outdoor recreation and mountain sports. While CMSC has already raised close to half of the funds necessary to acquire the two properties through cash donations and pledges, there remains the need for continued philanthropic support. CMSC plans to exercise on their remaining Crosscut Ranch purchase agreement by year-end, with the aim to start designing new facilities in 2018.
“Investing in Bohart Ranch is an investment in outdoor recreation now and for future generations,” said Lowell Bailey, CMSC’s Executive Director. “Now that we own the land, we can truly begin to think about how to design a venue that will best serve the community for decades to come. We look forward to working closely with Bridger Bowl and other partners to create a mountain venue that serves all ages and abilities.”
In 2017, CMSC’s focus will be on maintaining Bohart Ranch’s Nordic ski trails and connecting this network to new trails on Crosscut Ranch. Together, these properties will encompass a total of over 50 kilometers of groomed, tracked trails for skate and classic skiing. Bohart Ranch will be the home-site for both the Bridger Biathlon Club (BBC) and U.S. Paralympic Nordic and Biathlon Teams.
Caricature Created by Ski Cartoonist
Fellow snowsports journalist Mike Roth of the Albany Times Union blog and www.Snowsportsna.com recently created a caricature of the XCkiResorts.com editor, which captured the true essence. If you are interested in your own ski-related cartoon, contact Mike via www.SnowsportsNA.com
The Art of XC Skiing Featured in Unique Outdoor Trailside Gallery
Jackson Ski Touring Center in NH featured two local abstract painters, in a display of art with nature in February. Click here for the full article. Instead of a white walled gallery, in its place were walls made from snow, hemlocks, and birches, all places for paintings to hang from.
Hundreds of skiers and snowshoers viewed the gallery. The artists hoped to develop a new language by using radically different color palettes to represent local places, landmarks and the weather of New England. Many of the canvasses were non-representational, measuring four feet by three feet with high contrast colors to express abstract landscapes in the area.
The painting duo, Rebecca Klementovich and Kristen Pobatsching call themselves the "Femme Fatales of the North" and they are working to bring more attention to female painters in northern NH, especially abstract artists. They believe that the snowy cross country ski trails will be a perfect place to host their work. The art scene in Jackson is emerging as a small gem with four galleries and one museum.
American Birkie Cancelled
The American Birkebeiner is the biggest cross country ski marathon in the US and though it was cancelled last year in Cable-to-Hayward, WI, it annually attracts more than 10,000 participants. We're hoping for better weather or snowmaking. When in the region, stop by the Tony Wise Museum of the American Birkebeiner for a piece of cross country ski history. Check out our Personalities story at Tony Wise Museum.
Six Colorado XC Ski Areas - One Pass
The Colorado Cross Country Ski Association (CCCSA) is making exploration easier with a multi-ski resort pass good at six of the Nordic ski areas in the state. The CCCSA 2017-18 Punch Pass is on sale now for $99 and it allows purchasers to discover the snow on Nordic trails at six different resorts.
“Colorado has some of the finest Nordic experiences in the country and we want people to have the opportunity to explore them,” said Marie-Ange Anderson of Devil’s Thumb Ranch. “With six different resorts to experience, it’s a great way to see a side of Colorado that you may not have visited before.”
The punch passes are valid for two trail passes to Breckenridge Nordic, Crested Butte Nordic, Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Keystone Nordic, Snow Mountain Ranch and Tennessee Pass Nordic Center. The passes are transferable, so two people could share a pass for double the fun at each resort. Additional discounts on rentals, tours and lodging with specified partners are also included in the pass.
“These punches are for trail pass access,” Therese Dayton with Breckenridge Nordic added. “Depending on the usage at each resort, you could try cross country skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing or even fat biking with this pass. The Punch Pass also makes a great gift.”
The 2016-17 CCCSA Punch Pass is on sale now for $99. Visit http://www.coloradocrosscountry.com/Punch-Pass to purchase or for more information.
Hats Off to Inductees to the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame
XCSkiResorts.com would like to extend a hearty congratulations to some of the 2016 Inductees to the US Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame who have crossed paths with me over the years:
Bernie Weichsel - ski show promoter and ski industry grand pooh-bah; Michael Berry - NSAA President; Jeff Hastings - ski jumper, Olympic TV personality and neighbor; Shaun Palmer - snowboarder icon; John and Dan Egan - big mountain skiers on video.
The induction celebration was hosted in Stowe, VT in early April.
Jackson Ski Touring Invests $500,000
Jackson Ski Touring Center in Jackson, N.H., celebrated the most extensive expansion in its 44-year history. The nonprofit facility hosted a ribbon cutting on Monday, Nov. 14, at the Rocky Branch trailhead parking area, Route 16, Pinkham Notch.
The newly expanded 154 km (96-mile) facility has added four new trails totaling six km (3.75 miles) and eight new trail bridges. Funds for the expansion were raised during a two-year capital campaign. The $500,000 expansion, the largest in the northeast this season, and one of the largest in the U.S., includes:
Ellis River trail - .4 km; Hall trail - .8 km; Keeney trail - 4 km; Kellogg trail (named for Olympian Charles Kellogg - .8 km. Additionally there are two new bridges with lengths of 16- and 22-ft. long, on Hall trail; four new bridges ranging from 20- to 35-ft. on Keeney trail; and two replacement bridges include the 60-ft. Meserve Brook bridge, and 35-ft. Spruce Brook bridge.
“The trails have been prepared with a conservation mix of hardy grass and hay and are ready for the first significant snowfall. Snow has already fallen on our new trails and bridges, leading us to be optimistic about a Dec. 10 to 15 opening, although we have been known in the past to open Thanksgiving week. If that happens, we'll be really thankful for sure," said Breanne Torrey, executive director.
Garnet Hill Lodge, NY Changed Hands
According to a story on PostStar.com, the Garnet Hill Lodge in North River, NY changed hands recently. Jim and Frances Rucker have a vacation home in the area and they were regular visitors to the lodge and skied the trails. They plan to modernize the lodge but keep its rustic charm.
The 175-acre property and renovations will commence in the spring and take about two years. New visitors to the 25-room lodge will enjoy more modern décor and amenities including TVs in the rooms. The size of the bar area will be increased and include more of the amazing views. The ski lodge will also be renovated and they plan to increase the food offerings there.
There are no changes planned for the 55 km trail network but plans are being laid to also use the site for hikers, bikers, canoeists and kayakers and leaf peepers.
Bob Frye of Cross Country Ski Headquarters to MI Ski Hall of Fame
Bob Frye, founder of Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Higgins Lake, has been inducted by the board of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association to the Michigan Ski Hall of Fame. He enters the Hall of Fame as a "Snow Sports Builder", someone who has made major contributions in areas of organization, promotion, or development of the skiing industry in Michigan.
Says Frye, "We started with a simple mission, and that mission lives on today: get people outside and having fun on the snow. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us in that mission, and especially my wife, Lynne, for her tremendous support, and without whom none of this would have been possible."
Since starting Cross Country Ski Headquarters in 1974, Bob and Lynne, and later their daughter and son-in-law, Mariah and Stu Colie, have grown the business to achieve national recognition, not to mention a large statewide following. Named by Outside Magazine as a "Nordic Skiing Mecca", Cross Country Ski Headquarters has become one of the most distinguished cross country ski destinations in the country for its groomed trails, large retail selection and expertise, and warm, welcoming staff.
"Bob and his shop and ski area have attracted more people to the sport of Cross Country Skiing than any other entity in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. They have always been a beacon to those wanting to begin an adventure into snow sports and cross country skiing in particular." – Ernie Brumbaugh, President, Michigan Cup Race Committee.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters is located in Higgins Lake, in the heart of Michigan. It is open from October 29th through March 31st, and also for its annual Labor Day Weekend Sale. Featuring a vast ski equipment and clothing selection, product expertise, groomed ski trails, a café and day lodge, ski rentals and lessons, Cross Country Ski Headquarters invites one and all to "Come ski with us!"
Tahoe Donner Expansion
Tahoe Donner in Truckee, CA home of Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area has announced a decision to purchase and preserve 640 acres in the Crabree Canyon adjacent to and south of Tahoe Donner's existing 7,000 acres. The property is a gateway between the Euer Valley and the Carpenter Valley and there is a permanent conservation easement on the land.
The easement will protect Tahoe Donner's borders from future development and create new recreational opportunities. About 16% of Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center's terrain will be reopened. The land, which was previously closed due to land use concerns was acquired for less than $800 per acre.
Nonmotorized trail use for summer and winter activities will be encouraged on the new parcel of land and there are plans to link Tahoe Donner and the Independence Lake Preserve via a new trail system.
The Forestry Department at Tahoe Donner is actively working to protect this terrain and minimize threats of wildfire. The land will be open to the public for the first time in more than a century. Tahoe Donner is a homeowner association with 6,500 properties, 25,000 members and 7,000 acres.
Seniors Skiers – Golden Opportunity to be Mined
In a recent subscriber survey conducted by SeniorsSkiing.com to determine information about the website's subscribers, it was revealed that the average age of the respondents was 66 but they perceived themselves as 46 years old! The respondents were equally split between male and female.
The survey respondents were 91% alpine skiers with 48.5% of them expecting to ski 20 or more days and 20% expecting they'd ski 50 or more days! The secondary snow sports activity showed that 31% were into snowshoeing and 29% were also cross country skiers.
The seniors annually visit an average of 6 ski areas on day trips per season and they visit 2 resorts per season on weekend or vacation trips. Are ski area marketers reaching out to the senior market in their region? It is a great idea because 35% of the older skiers go with friends and 25% ski with their spouse while 18% bring their children or grandchildren. Only 15% indicated that they ski alone.
Some of the older skiers said they take lessons (29%) at the beginning of the season to adapt to their changing physical needs or to improve while 69% stated that they do not need to take lessons. Of the respondents, 73% were married.
With regard to planned purchases, 57% of the the respondents to the SeniorsSkiing.com survey said that they expected to purchase base layers (underwear) and about one-third would buy skis, 29% new goggles, and 25% boots, gloves, ski jackets, or ski pants. For more info, check www.SeniorsSkiing.com
Yankee Magazine Poll of Best Winter Towns in New England
The Yankee Magazine selected a list of the Best Winter Towns in New England. They looked for places that even nonskiers would love as a getaway, too. They didn't discriminate against big or small locales, inland or coastal areas, and based the selection on the following essential categories:
*Towns had to be known as a winter sports getaway that offers many of the snowsport and winter recreational activities.
* Variety of lodging.
* Village charm.
* Cultural attractions such as a museum, a library, historic homes, a theater for plays and live music, or a place to see first-run films. * Guided winter tours and ease of finding winter gear rentals.
* Après-ski scene.
* Accessibility includes the ease of driving to the town and whether the place offers public transportation or a shuttle.
Here are the towns with associated pages on XCSkiResorts.com:
3. Jackson, New Hampshire - Jackson Ski Touring Center
4. Woodstock, Vermont - Woodstock Inn Resort
5. N. Conway, New Hampshire
6. Waitsfield, Vermont
7. Rangeley, Maine - Rangeley Lakes Outdoor Center
8. Camden, Maine
9. Middlebury, Vermont - Rikert Nordic Center
10. Ludlow, Vermont
Click here for the full Yankee Magazine article.
USA TODAY 10Best 2016 Selects Top Cross Country Ski Resorts
USA TODAY asked three Olympians (all current or former members of the U.S. Nordic Ski Team) to nominate their favorite cross country resorts in North America. For the past four weeks, USA TODAY 10Best readers have been voting for their faves, and the results are in! The top 10 winners in the category Best Cross Country Ski Resort are as follows:
1. Trapp Family Lodge - Stowe, Vt.
2. American Birkebeiner Trail - Hayward, Wis.
3. Tahoe Donner Cross Country - Truckee, Calif.
4. Devil's Thumb Ranch - Tabernash, Colo.
5. SilverStar Mountain Resort - Vernon, British Columbia
6. Lone Mountain Ranch - Big Sky, Mont.
7. Craftsbury Outdoor Center - Craftsbury Common, Vt.
8. Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort - Soda Springs, Calif.
9. Jackson Ski Touring Center - Jackson, N.H.
10. Mount Bachelor Nordic Center - Bend, Ore.
A panel of XC ski racers picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Sadie Bjornsen, Holly Brooks, and Sophie Caldwell were chosen based on their extensive cross country skiing experience.
Additional nominees in the category Best Cross Country Ski Resort included Methow Trails in Wash., Rendezvous Ski Trails in Mont., Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center in Idaho, and Olympic Sports Complex Trails in Lake Placid, N.Y.
XCSkiResorts.com congratulates the cross country ski areas named in the USA TODAY 10BEST poll. Just click the area to see a full page of info on the resorts on the site.
White Grass Does it Again! Video Celebrates Cross Country Skiing
The joy of cross country skiing at White Grass Touring Center in Canaan, West Virginia. They are celebrating the Jonas snowstorm that dumped 19 inches with some great downhill runs and shots of the fun at White Grass. Click for video https://vimeo.com/147547370
Learn to Ski Program Offers
There are a variety of learn-to-ski deals available for anyone who has ever had an interest in in learning to cross country ski. For example, during the month of January ski areas across the nation will encourage people who have never cross country skied before to embrace winter and try something new with the Winter Trails program. This program now in its 21st year promotes an introduction to snowshoeing or cross country skiing sometime during the month of January at nearly 100 participating cross country ski areas across the nation. For a list of participating ski areas check WinterTrails.org
Discover Michigan offers a learn to cross country ski package with trail pass, rental equipment, and a lesson for $20 during the month of January. Michigan's Cold is Cool Passport program provides 4th and 5th graders a coupon book to get up to 3 learn to cross country ski packages at a participating ski area anytime during the coming winter for $20. Check the GoMichigan website for an application. Participating ski areas include Boyne Mountain, Cross Country Ski Headquarters, Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek, and others.
Six cross country ski areas in New Hampshire are offering special packages during January for first-time skiers. The cross country package includes a trail pass, first-time lesson, and rentals for $19, and is available at Bretton Woods Nordic Center, Granite Gorge XC, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, Gunstock XC, Jackson Ski Touring Center, and Windblown XC. The Snowsport Passport program offers one trail pass per ski area to 4th and 5th graders for $35 and part of that amount is donated to Make A Wish. Check SkiNh.com for details.
In Maine, the Winter Kids Passport is for 5th-7th graders for $25 and scholarships are available to those who are unable to afford the offer. Check WinterKids.org.
Vermont has the Fifth Grade Passport offer of a booklet for 5th graders with coupons that are good for XC ski area trail passes at each of the participating resorts. There is a need to be accompanied by an adult and there are some blackout dates. There is a $10 fee for registration. Vermont also has an app program to win prizes for skiers that visit many of the XC ski areas in Vermont called Check in to Win. For details, check SkiVermont.com.
Cross Country Ski Headquarters Wins Awards & Recognition
Cross Country Ski Headquarters in Roscommon, MI was voted winner in two categories in the "Vote 4 the Best" contest of WDIV News in Detroit. The categories were "Winter Sports & Recreation: Cross Country Skiing" and "Winter Gear & Outdoor Apparel."
The ski area also was recognized as a Nordic Skiing Mecca in Outside Magazine in an article that included the comment that at Cross Country Ski Headquarters ski area and shop "It's almost a guarantee that beginners will walk away glowing with the joy of a newfound love."
The Inn at Ellis River Celebrates 30 Years
The Inn at Ellis River in Jackson, NH celebrates 30 years as a Bed & Breakfast! The Inn at Ellis River began as a personal residence for its original builder and his family in the late 1800's. With a long history of hospitality for friends and relatives since 1893 it is no surprise it eventually became a B&B in November of 1985 as the Ellis River House. The inn started as a 6 guest room house and expanded over time. Now known as the Inn at Ellis River, it has grown to 21 rooms and a rustic cottage.
Canmore Nordic Centre to Open Trails First
Canmore Nordic Centre in Alberta, Canada annually plans to open about 1+ km of groomed trails at the centre in October. The Frozen Thunder Trail is covered with machine-made snow that was stored over the summer. The early trail access is used for team and athlete training on Monday-Friday from 9 -12 and then open to the public from noon until 9 PM. The weekends will be open all day to any XC skiers who want to get in some early season skiing. Night skiing is available from 5-9 PM and is FREE.
According to Sue Taylor, Canmore Visitor Experience Supervisor, all of the Canmore Nordic Centre facilities will be in operation during the early season including the Day Lodge, Fresh Trax Café, wax rooms and gym. A special pass covering the period of October 23 – November 13 is available for $90 or the daily skiing trail fee is $15. Rentals and lessons are available via Trail Sports, the service provider at the centre. Access to the trails by regular Canmore Nordic Centre season pass holders begins on November 14 and does not include the early season trail fees.
For a story about snowmaking at XC ski areas see the most recent article entitled Snowmaking Becomes Imperative at XC Ski Areas.
New Articles in the Green Room
I don't know the psychographic research regarding cross country skiers' interest in sustainability, but the notion that cross country skiers are highly interested in it makes great sense. The XCSkiResorts.com "Green Room" reflects informative sustainable goings-on in the snow sports world.
Among the current Green Room features is a list of the most sustainable cross country ski resorts in North America from Stump Sprouts in western MA, which produces more electricity via solar panels than it consumes to Nipika Mountain Resort, which is off the grid in British Columbia.
Olympic XC ski competitors speak about what they've witnessed and voice their concerns in three different Green Room articles and green efforts at XC ski product companies are also featured. One story gives a snapshot of Burton Snowboards, which exemplifies a product company committed to social and sustainable responsibility.
Other articles featured in the Green Room look at a statewide upgrade of snowmaking efficiency and an electric car event up the Mt. Washington toll road. There's also an overview of the impact of climate change on the snowsports world, which when you think about it may very well be the canary in the coalmine of businesses that have much to lose because of global warming.
So click on the Green Room for some stories about snow sports people and businesses leading the way to a more sustainable world.
Walk More Often for Health & Fitness
The nation's doctor, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recommends a brisk walk to stay fit and urges groups to work together and create communities that are more walkable and easier to go out for a regular daily walk.
Some of the real barriers to people walking outdoors more often include finding time in their busy daily schedule, busy city streets, crossing traffic lanes, neighborhood crime, concern about stranger danger, older people's concern of falling, and zoning laws (private or public property that is not open).
The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has called for "safer people, safer streets initiatives" to help communities create safer walking and biking networks. Clearly, support and funding from transportation legislation that has been stalled in Congress would give walk and biking initiatives a boost of adrenaline.
What is a brisk walk? It has been said that walking is brisk enough when "you can talk but not sing." I don't know about you, but I really like to sing as I walk or go Nordic walking with poles, so I guess I'm not much of a brisk walker!
2022 Winter Olympics Site Selected
In a report from USSA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has selected Beijing, China, as the host city for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Beijing's vision for the Games seeks to incorporate winter sports into people's lives, with the ultimate goal of improving overall fitness and health.
Beijing 2022 has offered a regional concept intended to develop a winter sports market for more than 300 million people in northern China. The Games vision also aims to accelerate the development of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Sport, Culture and Tourism Belt, offering a new impetus for China's economic growth and sustainable development in Beijing and Hebei Province, where the snow sports competitions would take place.
Beijing has proposed a three-zone event venue plan that relies on six existing and six new competition venues. The three zones will be linked by high-speed rail. The venues for skiing and snowboarding are in an existing winter sports region, but have yet to be constructed. The Zhangjiakou Zone, approximately 160 kilometers (96 miles) from the Beijing Olympic Green, will house venues for Nordic combined, ski jumping, biathlon, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. For a full story on aview of the site selection process for these Olympics click 2022 Winter Olympics.
Responsible Down Standards
For years, winter clothes have incorporated down feathers (from geese) for insulation and in 2013 information about the mistreatment of geese that are raised for this purpose was broadcast in the media. It sounds like there has been some mean stuff being done to geese to get the down feathers.
Get the low-down on responsible goose down harvesting and look for the "Responsible Down Standard Certified" logo in products that have down in them. For more info on this issue, see articles in Outdoor Gear Lag and SeniorsSkiing.com http://www.seniorsskiing.com/is-your-down-jacket-responsible/
LL Bean Named Among Top 100 Workplaces List
In a Fortune.com article, LL Bean, the retail catalog store based in Freeport, ME has been named to a list of the 100 best workplaces for employees. LL Bean has grown to 26 stores and 10 outlets with a total of 4,966 employees.
The company has many employee perks and benefits programs including free on-site health screenings, fitness classes, and on-site massages. There is tuition reimbursement, a pension plan, and paid work days to enjoy the outdoors. The article referenced cross country skiing and snowshoeing and there was mention of an employee ski trip to Rangeley Lakes in western Maine. Employees also receive 33-40% off of company-made items.
In the article, LL Bean revenue was quoted at $1.6 billion and a vice president of human resources commented that employees are given the chance to have (experience outdoor activities) what they want to impact the customers.
Reefer Madness in Colorado?
The National Ski Club Newsletter reported about Colorado's marijuana business quoting a state-produced analysis saying that 90% of recreational sales in mountain resort communities are to out-of-state visitors. There are 18 tour operators running "marijuana bus tours" to Colorado and probably some family visitors have traveled elsewhere due to the law, which allows marijuana sales but not smoking in public places.
The ski town breakdown:
Aspen has 5 cannabis shops. Nearby Snowmass Village has instituted a moratorium on pot shops until 2017. Breckenridge voters disallowed pot shops downtown, but there are 5 shops in Breck.
Crested Butte has 2 medical marijuana outlets and 2 recreational shops.
Durango has 3 pot shops.
Steamboat Springs has 3 shops, but has banned them from old town Steamboat and at the base of the ski area.
Telluride has issued 4 marijuana licenses compared to 3 liquor stores in town.
Vail voted to ban pot shops until the summer of 2015, but Eagle-Vail has 3 pot shops.
The Hills Have Been Alive for 50 Years
The Sound of Music movie premiered on March 2, 1965 and the 50th anniversary tribute of it is currently all over the media including the medley of songs performed by Lady Gaga at the Academy Awards show and more than a million and a half downloads of it on YouTube.
One of the most popular movies of all time, The Sound of Music was originally created as a Broadway stage musical with Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. The connection to cross country skiing is that the Von Trapp family, which is featured in the movie and stage show started the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT and it became one of the first cross country ski resorts in 1968. Today the lodge is one of the most successful resorts in the business. For a full page about the resort click Trapp Family Lodge and for a full story about the youngest of the Von Trapps, who moved to America in the 1940s, click Johannes Von Trapp.
Resort Reviews on HighOnAdventure.com for Royal Gorge and Woodstock Inn
For an in-depth HighOnAdventure.com article on Royal Gorge Ski Resort in Soda Springs, CA by Larry Turner click: http://www.highonadventure.com/Hoa01dec/Royalgorge/royalgorge.htm
For an in-depth HighOnAdventure.com article on Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, VT by Roger Lohr click: http://www.highonadventure.com/hoa15jan/roger/woodstock.htm
Research Shows that Hiking Makes You Happier
In a recent Outside.com article, it was reported that British and American scientists have published new research showing that nature walks help us combat stress while boosting mental well-being.
Researchers from the University of Michigan and Edge Hill University in England evaluated 1,991 participants in England's Walking for Health program, which hosts nearly 3,000 walks per week for more than 70,000 regular participants. They found that the nature walks were associated with significantly less depression in addition to mitigating the negative effects of stressful life events and perceived stress. The findings were published in the September issue of "Ecopsychology."
Sara Warber, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and senior author of the study, said that the large sample was a defining factor. "We observed behaviors of a large group, in which some chose to walk and some chose not to, instead of us telling them what to do," she said. "After 13 weeks, those who walked at least once a week experienced positive emotions and less stress."
According to Warber, it is recommended that walking outside in nature at least three times a week to experience benefits. Short, frequent jaunts are more beneficial than long, occasional walks. While stress isn't ever going to go away, it is important to have a way to cope with it, and walking in nature is a great coping mechanism with benefits that are more than just physical.
Plans to Reopen The Balsams in Northern NH
A recent North Country Chamber of Commerce presentation described the 1st phase of a $100 million investment in the reopening of The Balsams in northern NH to become a world class resort with golf, alpine and XC skiing, ATV riding, and weddings. The Balsams hotel closed a few years ago after changing ownership a couple of times and it had become a tired grand old hotel outside of Colebrook, NH. Les Otten formerly of Sunday River Ski Resort and the American Skiing Company, is one of the investors in the project. After a debt crisis caused the American Skiing Company to succumb, Otten invested in the Boston Red Sox and then some other businesses in Maine, where he lives.
New XC Skiing Instructional Model Under Consideration
There's been recent discussion between PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors and USSA (United States Ski and Snowboard Association) regarding the Cross Country (XC) Skiing Technical Model of instruction.
The six elements of the PSIA XC skiing instructional model represent the "what" of XC skiing. These elements include skills, stance, movements, timing, power, and continuous forward motion. The skills for push off, weight transfer, and glide are the fundamental aspects of what XC skiers do to create "continuous forward motion."
Common terms used to clarify each of the PSIA skills include:
Push off - wax set, edging, and weight transfer;
Weight transfer - moving from ski to ski;
Glide - pole recovery, arm return, and foot return.
The USSA performance triangle represents the "how" of XC skiing performing the skills by blending the:
Fundamental athletic stance - flexed ankles and knees, rounded back and shoulders, core over base of support;
Fundamental movements - rotary, flexion and extension, and speed;
Timing - to coordinate the movements while applying Power (force and speed) to create "continuous forward motion."
Will this make teaching XC skiing or learning to XC ski any easier? Who knows, but it makes sense to continue to refine instructional models if it helps more people to attain a higher level of enjoyment more quickly.
Double Dating Strengthens Relationships
The USA Weekend Magazine recently had a blurb about double dating and its effect on sparking romance and passion in a relationship. The research cited that getting acquainted with a new couple spurs passionate feelings about your own partner. Beyond bowling or going to a movie, the double date must include conversation and opening up because it conveys understanding and validates feelings of passionate love (toward your partner). The studies show that novelty and new experiences reinvigorates long term romantic relationships. Sharing time with the other couple increases a positive mood and adds passion to your existing relationship.
What does this have to do with skiing? Well, when you are on a XC ski outing you often stop along the trails and that gives you plenty of time to chat with another couple. Alpine skiers get time on the chair lift rides where the quad chairlifts (4 skiers sit on the lift) fit the bill perfectly. Of course, during a ski outing there is often a break for lunch when meaningful conversation can take place between couples, too. Go on more double dates!
Biathlon Proliferates at XC Ski Areas
Biathlon is now on target at many XC ski areas across the country. The sport of biathlon combines cross country (XC) skiing and target shooting. The roots of biathlon are traced to Scandinavia in the mid 1700's, and currently in Europe it is the most popular winter sport attracting 700 million annual television viewers. XC ski areas in the US are now offering programs with real 22 caliber biathlon rifles, laser rifles, and even paintball markers (guns). Some of the XC ski areas that conduct biathlon programs include the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, NY, Tahoe Donner Cross Country in Truckee, CA, Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone and Bohart Ranch in Bozeman both in MT, Craftsbury Outdoor Center in VT, and the Nordic Heritage Center in ME. See the full article on the Resort Features Page.
Outdoor Recreation is BIG Business
Go on a trip to recreate lately? According to a ForbesLife article about Conservation Funding, the outdoor recreation industry (biking, skiing, hunting, hiking, camping, fishing, etc.) is worth $646 billion, is responsible for 6.1 million American jobs, and $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue. This industry is a larger part of the US economy than pharmaceuticals ($331 billion), motor vehicles and parts ($340 billion) and gasoline and other fuels ($354 billion). In Utah, the Office of Outdoor Recreation has been created to help Utah increase its involvement with outdoor activities and increase its rate of recreational tourism. The Outdoor Industry Association website has state-by-state info regarding outdoor recreation for spending, jobs, wages/salaries, and tax revenue within the respective states. The organization's objectives include encouraging federal agencies to coordinate their efforts, improve recreational access and funding, protect recreational destinations and provide funding to maintain them, and ensure fair and predictible trade and business environments.
Fat Bikes Now Welcome & Offered at More XC Ski Areas
Last year, the Methow Trails in Winthrop, WA opened selected cross country ski trails to fat bikes in 4 different locations among the organization's 120 miles of groomed trails. Fat bikes are specially-made with ultra-wide tires that can be run at very low pressure to allow the bicycles to roll over packed snow-covered trails. Many XC skiers are also mountain bikers so fat bikes provide an opportunity to combine these interests during the winter months.
The Fat Bike pilot program gave people another way to play in Methow Valley's dry, sunny, cold, snowy climate. In the right conditions, the fat bike tire tracks stay on top of the snow with less impact than a pair of skis.
A trail pass is required for snow bikes on the trails.
Fat bike rentals are now available at Sun Mountain Lodge, WA; Bear Valley Cross Country & Adventure and Royal Gorge in CA; Rikert Nordic Center, Woodstock Nordic Center and Kingdom Trails in VT; Arizona Nordic Village in AZ; Cross Country Ski Headquarters in MI. We'll add more areas to the list as we hear about them. There are trail ethics involved with fat biking with regard to sharing the trails with other trail users and being a good trail citizen. If a rider has to get off the bike and push or carry it or the bike is leaving a rut on the trail deeper than an inch, then the snow is too soft and he or she must get off the trail. See full story at Resort Features.
Bolton Valley, VT Protects Coveted Land
It took two years of fundraising to purchase 1,114 high elevation acres in Bolton, VT, which includes land that hosts Nordic and backcountry ski trails at Bolton Valley Nordic Center. The Vermont Land Trust campaign raised $1,050,000 in 15 months and that was matched by $800,000 from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. In mid June, the Land Trust transferred the deed for the 1,114 acres to the state to become part of the Mount Mansfield state forest.
The property, which was threatened by interested developers is the largest state land conservation acquisition in more than a decade and it includes a long section of the Bolton Valley Nordic Center to Trapp Family Lodge ski trail.
Top XC Ski Racers May be at Higher Risk to Heart Problems
In a story that has virally spread on the Internet on June 12, findings in a study published in the European Heart Journal stunningly revealed that cross country (xc) skiers, who completed the 90 km (56 mile) Swedish Vasaloppet marathon, may be at greater risk of developing heart arrhythmias with the rhythm of a heart beat. Those skiers, who completed the most races and had the fastest finishing times, had a higher chance of developing atrial fibrillation (abnormally fast heartbeat) or bradyarrhythmias (abnormally slow heartbeat).
The study did not find a direct causal link between xc skiing and heart problems but it suggests that there is a dose-response relationship: the more races skiers complete and the faster they go, the greater their risk. The research included 52,755 xc skiers who completed the marathon between 1989 to 1998 and were tracked through 2005. These skiers all pursued more physical activity during their leisure time than the general population and smoked less, had lower fat, higher fiber consumption, and better mental and physical health. The study showed that 1.74% (919) had some kind of heart rhythm problems.
There was a 29% increase of having atrial fibrillation for skiers who completed 5 or more races compared to those who just completed one; and those who had the fastest finishing times were 20% more likely to have the problem than those who were in the slowest group. The risk of bradyarrhythmia went up 110% in those who completed 5 or more races compared to first-timers.
It is expected that similar results would be seen in other endurance athletes but researchers emphasized that exercise can protect the heart from cardiovascular diseases. They did not find any increased incidence of the heart problems leading to sudden death and the Vasaloppet participants are less likely to die during the follow up period than the general population and that mortality decreases with increasing number of races.
The American Center for Disease Control recommends that adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice weekly.
UVM Nordic Ski Team Aids Adirondack Rescue
In an article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise it was reported that members of the University of Vermont women’s Nordic ski team joined with a local outfitter and forest rangers to conduct a backcountry rescue of a woman with a serious leg injury on Dix Mountain on March 30th in the Adirondack Mountains west of Route 73 in NY.
The woman was snowshoeing and had injured her ankle. Seven forest rangers responded with a state police helicopter and they parlayed with the UVM ski team, who were on an end-of-the-year outing with the owner of the Mountaineer gear shop in Keene Valley, NY.
The woman’s leg was splinted and stabilized and a makeshift sled was created from ski poles, ski skins, a harness, and rope. The group worked together to get the woman to a landing zone clearing in the area and she was hoisted out of the wilderness on the helicopter. The UVM women’s team had recently taken 3rd place in the NCAA Championships held at Rikert Nordic Center in Middlebury College…but this might have been an unexpected highlight of the season.
Cross Country Downhill Fun to Music
We received this video to music this morning http://vimeo.com/57040530 celebrating the snow and some great runs at White Grass in WV. That's Chip Chase and friends ripping it up on xc skis in the trees and yes, doing telly-copters (360 in the air and then landing it). Who says cross country skiing is boring or too much work? Spend 4 minutes with the video to learn the answer to the question, "Why do we love cross country skiing?"
Mountain Top Resort Named Most Pet Friendly
Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, VT was named among the most pet-friendly resorts on PawNation.com because it gives your pup a retreat at another level beyond just allowing dogs on the trails. There is a $30 per night fee associated with having your dog accompany you on a cabin vacation, but overnights at Mountain Top provides Fido with a dog bed, a bowl for food and water, and a welcome treat. Your dog is welcome to enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride with you and pet sitters are available if you want to leave your dog in the cabin while you treat yourself to dinner in the restaurant.
In most of these xc ski area dog offerings there is a trail fee for both the skier and the dog. Check the area’s policy because some allow dogs to run loose while others require a leash or harness. There are some resorts that require proof of rabies vaccination.
A full list of 70 xc ski areas that welcome dogs and the amount of dog-designated kilometers within their trail networks are at CCSAA Dog Trails List. Other resorts named as the most pet-friendly included the Lake Placid Lodge in NY, The Little Nell in Aspen, CO, and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta.