Nordic skiers ready for the season
Park City full of opportunities for 2016-17 season
November 22, 2016
With the area experiencing unseasonably warm weather, slopes at the many local resorts have the advantage of being thousands of feet into the air, either welcoming in a natural snowstorm or lowering the temperatures in order for resorts to create snow. However, there's a group being affected by the higher temperatures that doesn't share that luxury, Nordic skiers.
Most Nordic trails sit near the bases of the mountains. Temperatures are not cold enough at this level of elevation to make snow, nor does the Nordic skiing community boast snow guns like its resort counterparts.
For them, they simply have to wait for Mother Nature to cooperate and dump fresh flakes onto their snowless trails.
"I can look out my back window here and there's a little bit of white at the top of the mountain there, but not very much," said Dave Hanscom, Wasatch Citizens Series Director for The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA). "This happens. It's not unprecedented to not have snow in November, but you know, you start getting nervous."
From the professionally-run programs for all ages to the mountain trails that can be used for fun and free of charge, skiers in the area have their pick in terms of options for Nordic skiing when that snow finally does grace the area for good. Below are previews of some options Park City has to offer.
White Pine Nordic Center
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If you've ever driven from Kimball Junction to Park City via Highway 224 in the winter, chances are you've seen Nordic skiers on one of White Pine's three trails. This is one of the more popular recreational Nordic skiing options in the area, using three-kilometer, five-kilometer and 10-kilometer tracks to appeal to all skill levels.
Day and season passes at the White Pine Nordic Center are available for purchase at whitepinetouring.com. As of Tuesday, none of the trails are currently open due to the warm weather.
The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA)
The Utah Nordic Alliance has been around for 26 years and was formed back in 1990 as a merger between the Park City Cross-Country Ski Club and the Utah Nordic Alliance. TUNA's mission is to promote cross-country skiing in Utah. It does so by providing junior race programs, year-round training programs for all ages, trail grooming and a race series.
That race series is the Wasatch Citizens Series, Utah's marquee nordic skiing events series since the 1980s. TUNA also maintains and operates the Mountain Dell Golf Course during the winter months.
Park City Nordic Ski Club
The Park City Nordic Ski Club (PCNSC) has grown into one of the largest Nordic programs in the area. In an effort to tackle both cross-country and ski jumping aspects, the Nordic club, a branch of the Utah Olympic Park, has multiple programs for varying ages and talent levels.
PCNSC offers cross-country ski programs for youth ages 7-19. Intro-level programs include the Kickers and Gliders (ages 7-10) and Devo Prep (ages 11-15) teams. The Devo and Devo Plus teams are for intermediate to advanced skiers, ages 10-14. The Competition Team (ages 14-19) is for experienced skiers and racers. Comp Team athletes train year round and travel to regional and national competitions. Program registration and information can be found at utaholympiclegacy.org/pcnsc.
For nearly the last decade, Basin Recreation has groomed and maintained winter trails from Park City Market to Kimball Junction with extra loops in the Willow Creek Park and Matt Knoop Park areas (about five kilometers at each). It also crosses under Highway-224 and grooms the Millennium Trail to Bear Hollow Drive. In all, these trails total roughly 17 miles and, unlike some trails, are open to hikers, bikers and skiers.
That said, the Basin Recreation five-kilometer cross-country trail at Kimball Junction is groomed for skiing only and dogs are not allowed.
Basin Recreation also grooms shorter tracks at Ecker Hill Middle School and The Woods of Parley's Lane, which pushes its total up to 23 miles of groomed trail. Bob Radke, Basin Rec's Trails & Open Space Manager, said they will start grooming as soon as conditions allow. Radke says that because most of the trails are used in the summer, it takes just about eight inches of good snow for them to start grooming.
New this year for Basin Recreation will be a groomed singletrack on the Glenwild Loop Trail. It has been working with Storm Cycles and Glenwild HOA to make this happen. This will be the test year for this trail.
Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy
The Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy (WNSA) provides a supportive environment for motivated young athletes, ranging in age from 12 to 22, to accomplish their goals and chase their dreams in competitive Nordic skiing, according to its website. The program offers world-class training and advanced coaching in order to help team members achieve their individual goals.
"We recognize that athletic success is an important component of the WNSA experience, but our coaches also prioritize guiding team members in the development of life values, including personal integrity, accountability, sportsmanship, teamwork, personal discipline, social responsibility, pride and perseverance, self-motivation, self-esteem, self-respect and respect of others," said Kelly Morgan, WNSA's Team Manager.
Another popular option in the area, Round Valley is free to use for anyone who wants to cross-country ski. Just above Old Town, there are nearly 700 acres of preserved open space which is used for Nordic skiing in the winter town. Access points to the trails can be found at the Quinn's Junction, Highland and Round Valley Way trailheads.
All the trails, roughly 25 kilometers, are groomed daily or when conditions warrant it. As of Tuesday, no trails are currently open. To stay keep track of their statuses, the grooming report on the Mountain Trails Foundation website is updated daily.
Park City Nordic Betties
If you are female and looking for a team to go Nordic skiing with, the Park City Nordic Betties are for you. Two of the coaches, Annie Morgan and Inge Travis, have put together this team in order to allow women in the area to get out and go skiing.
According to its website, the Park City Nordic Betties "combines all the fabulous elements of a team, such as developing new friendships, providing and receiving support, and shared challenge under the enthusiastic eye of amazing coaches."
Each week, the group gets together at different trails in the area, breaks off into smaller skill-based groups and work on an assigned weekly skill.
The group also hosts a handful of clinics, typically evening social events, throughout the season to help gain extra knowledge on the sport. Visit http://www.parkcitynordicbetties.com for more information.
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