Nordic Glides into the Spotlight

Paradise found at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

Paradise found at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center

Beginning Saturday, January 26, Sun Valley is throwing a party that reaches from Hailey to Galena Lodge and over the pass. The Sun Valley Nordic Festival brings thousands of recreational and competitive cross-country skiers to the valley to enjoy legendary trails, seminars, demos, dining, shopping and entertainment. The week-long Festival kicks into full gear with a big party, a locals’ favorite, the Galena and the Trails Benefit on Saturday night, and builds to the jewel in the Festival’s crown, the Boulder Mountain Tour.

The Boulder Mountain Tour (BMT) is a big deal. Covering 32 kilometers of trail through the sublime Boulder Mountains, the race draws skiers from across the nation. It is one of the country’s longest running and most respected cross-country contests. Best of all, it is appropriate to all abilities. Both highly competitive and recreational skiers will be comfortable in the race. They also offer a Half Boulder, an untimed event for which no age class awards will be given. It’s just a lot of fun. Race day includes souvenirs and a clothing bag for participants, as well as raffle prize drawings. See?  It’s a party, albeit one that requires cardiovascular exertion.

Perfect trails at Sun Valley Nordic

One example of the spectacular trails that won Sun Valley/Ketchum the title of Nordic Town USA

Between the Galena benefit and the BMT, there are dozens of events to appeal to every interest. To name a few: skiing at Alturas Lake, wine tastings, reggae concerts, an induction ceremony at the Sun Valley Alpine & Nordic Ski Hall of Fame, gatherings at Galena Lodge and Smiley Creek Lodge … the list goes on and on. A full list of events and happenings can be found here.

Sun Valley Resort is in on the action, too. The 40 beautiful kilometers of perfectly groomed tracks at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center will set the stage for two events during the Nordic Festival. On Wednesday, January 30, at 10 a.m., competitors will ski in a 3.3km AXCS National Masters Prologue. On Thursday morning, racers will run the same course, but three times in a row, battling it out on the official scored classic event for the 2013 AXCS National Master Championships. As many as 100 racers are expected to line up for Thursday’s start according to Nordic Director Ivana Radlova.

But there’s more. “Skin It 2 Win It,” a team ski and snowboard race on Dollar Mountain changes things up a bit during Nordic week. Here, instead of gliding across the snow, racers climb 563-feet with the help of skins and then ski or snowboard down Otto’s Run on Dollar, trying to complete as many laps as possible in three hours. The madcap and cardio-pumping race benefits the Sawtooth National Forest Avalanche Center and begins at 10 a.m. with awards to follow.

All signs point to fun

All signs point to fun

On Sunday, after the winners of the BMT have distinguished themselves and received their awards, everyone is invited back to the Nordic & Snowshoe Center for Demo Day. Industry professionals will show off the latest and greatest in hard goods from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All Sun Valley trail passes that day are a mere $10. Ivana calls this “quite a great deal and a super way to try out some new skis, boots or poles.”

In general, the Nordic Festival offers amazing opportunities to ski at a very friendly price. $49 will buy a pass valid from January 26 through February 3 on any of the valley’s cross-country trails, including all Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD) and Sun Valley Nordic Trails. Passes are available from the BCRD, Sturtevant’s in Hailey, Backwoods Mountain Sports, the Elephants Perch, Galena Lodge, the SNRA and Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center.

The lovely dining room at the Sun Valley Club

Enjoy a pre-snowshoe meal on January 26 at the lovely Sun Valley Club

And if you’d just like to enjoy a snowshoe under a full moon, the Nordic Festival happens to fall at the perfect time. On January 26, Katherine Pleasants of the Nordic & Snowshoe Center will lead a memorable snowshoe tour, lit by moonlight, at around 8 p.m. That evening, the elegant and cozy restaurant at the Sun Valley Club will serve a special dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Menu items will be a la carte and include flavorful appetizers, healthy salads, a selection of entrees, including the catch of the day and dessert. Go ahead and indulge — you are about to get some exercise! Please make reservations for this meal by calling 208.622.2919. For more information on the guided snowshoe tour, phone  208.622.2250.

Great deals are still available if you are on the fence about coming to town. I highly recommend you do. They don’t call us Nordic Town USA for nothing.

– RES