White Pine Touring preps for upcoming season
White Pine Touring is often the forgotten middle child of the places to ski in Park City, but Charlie Sturgis, manager of the cross-country and snowshoeing terrain, said he doesn’t mind.
"A couple of years ago we were the first ski resort to be open in Utah for the season, but nobody knows that," he said, referring to the cross-country ski course White Pine maintains on the Park City Municipal Golf Course. "Cross-country skiing is forgotten more in America than anything, but I don’t have a small-guy complex that bothers me. I’ve gotten used to it."
Although being forgotten by the general public does not bother him, Sturgis said most good skiers start their season by cross-country skiing and White Pine will make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Coming off several highly successful seasons, he said they are going to keep the prices the same, will try to open before Thanksgiving and might even add new terrain to the existing 20 kilometers of track.
"We’ve been doing approximately 20,000 skier days per year and we’re hoping for another good year," he said.
Single-day tickets are $18 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of six and 12.
Season passes, which are already on sale, will go up in price after the early-bird deadline of Oct. 31. Before that date, passes are $175 for an adult, $235 for a family and $100 for a 10-punch pass.
After the deadline, prices go up to $225 for an adult pass, $300 for a family and $140 for a 10-punch pass.
"It almost costs you more to drive there," he said. "I figured it out two years ago, but if we have a regular season with a pre-Thanksgiving start, prices run about $1.42 a day."
Sturgis said his goal is to open before Thanksgiving in order to give skiers a chance to strap on either skis or snowshoes to help get them conditioned for the downhill season.
"It’s a great cross-training," he said. "It’s aerobic as hell. If you start the ski season on cross-country skis, it’s going to make you a better skier, no doubt about it. Plus, cross-country is the yoga of skiing. It’s got the zen thing, just standing on a skinny little skate ski and getting going in the backcountry. It’s peaceful."
Sturgis also said White Pine might open more continuous terrain in order to grow the area and the sport, but wasn’t able to disclose any details.
"The sport is growing and we’d like some more space," he said. "We’d just like to see it continue to grow. The youth teams are growing like crazy and we’d love to see more adults out. It’s the cheapest entertainment around. But another change people will notice, especially if they’ve been golfing, is that the yurt came down over the summer and the it will go back up for the ski season. We use it for all our rental equipment and repair."
White Pine will have a local’s day on Dec. 10 with free clinics and new equipment that will be free to try. The event, which used to take place in the spring, is going to be earlier in the season so that it fosters a spirit of excitement when there’s still months left of good snow.
"We used to do it in March, but that really didn’t make sense to get people excited then about what we were doing," Sturgis said. "This will be the first year we’ll do it before Christmas, so we’ll hope for snow."
Sturgis said he was like many others when he started cross-country skiing. He was a downhill skier who fell in love with the sport, almost by accident.
"I’ve been involved in the sport for 30 years," he said. "I broke my leg the very first year I lived in Utah and I ended up snowshoeing and stuff and breaking my leg again. So I kind of gave up on that part of the sport and got really into backcountry skiing, but before I really got into it I hated it. I would have never had done it years and years ago, but maybe that’s why I’m not as good as skier as I should be."
"The big rush in the long run is backcountry skiing," he said. "Racing, and being able to ski in town is just a great way to go. It’s yoga in motion."
The retail headquarters for White Pine Touring is located at 1790 Bonanza Drive, where they sell equipment, passes and anything related to track sports. White Pine can be reached at (435) 649-8710.
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