Nordic skiers have plenty to be excited about
With local Nordic skiing options such as White Pine Touring’s cross-country ski area and Soldier Hollow Cross-Country Ski Resort, Park City residents have long had access to first-class tracks.
But apart from enjoying those established areas that they’ve come to know and embrace, local Nordic enthusiasts will have something else to smile about this winter.
After a trial run last year in which it laid down about four kilometers of track, Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club’s Nordic Center is expanding its offerings to 11 kilometers this season, which will cover most of the golf course.
General Manager Chad Pettingill said the club is working with Bill Demong, an Olympic gold-medalist Nordic skier, to plan the track and ensure skiers get a top-flight experience.
"We’re trying to go full-force into it," Pettingill said, adding that the track will be set as soon as it snows.
The main motivator in the decision for the club to create a Nordic ski area was to ensure its members had a winter activity in which to participate — thereby keeping the clubhouse and its restaurant open year-round. However, non-members can also use the track, by purchasing day tickets or season passes, which also come with a social membership to the club.
And though the track was limited last year — in both size and the duration of its availability — Pettingill said there was much enthusiasm surrounding it from the Nordic skiing community.
"We got a late start on it just because we were trying to learn what we were doing, but we got the track laid down," he said. "People were skiing it and thought it was pretty cool. We didn’t get to have it very long, but the feedback was good.
Of course, the Jeremy Ranch Nordic Center is far from the only option for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Among the others is White Pine Touring, which has established itself as a Nordic destination with what it touts as one of the best-groomed tracks in the area.
Eric LaPerle, who manages White Pine Touring’s retail store, at 1790 Bonanza Drive, said immaculate grooming is key to the roughly 20 kilometer track — which runs through Park City Golf Course and continues past McPolin Farm — being able to offer a true Nordic experience free of bicycle tire ruts and joggers’ footprints.
He said that’s necessary to compete at a time when more cross-country skiing tracks are available in town than ever before.
"It stays really pure for Nordic skiing specifically," LaPerle said, adding that White Pine has few changes from previous seasons, which he views as a positive.
Another factor LaPerle believes sets White Pine Touring’s experience apart is the wealth of knowledge among the cross-country skiing instructors who are available to help skiers at all levels of experience.
"If you start calculating the cumulative experience that’s over there at this point, you’re talking well over 100 years of teaching hours," he said. "Regardless of who the customer gets as an instructor, they’re going to have an outstanding depth of knowledge."
Like White Pine Touring, Soldier Hollow Cross-Country Ski Resort, in Wasatch County, also is relying on the quality skiing it is known for to keep customers coming back this year. Skiers will find a similar experience as in previous years, and any changes will be cosmetic and — while crucial to keeping the resort — in top condition — minor, said Richard Hodges, the resort’s executive director.
"It’s nothing new, but just better," he said. " Part of my role is to make the amazing experience at Soldier Hollow even better. It’s not very fancy, but repainting the biathlon range, doing some maintenance on the signs, stuff like that. It’s not exciting work, but it’s important and necessary work."
What makes Soldier Hollow unique is its legacy. It hosted events at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and skiers come from all over to ski those same trails, which span 33 kilometers.
"This is where the competitions in 2002 were," Hodges said, "and as a result we have just amazing trails. The idea that you can come and ski, 15 years later, on these Olympic trails is amazing."
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