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By James Dickhoff
Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Nordic Club had yet another very successful free X-C ski clinic on Saturday, Jan. 11. Over 45 participants took advantage of the free clinic, learning more about classic X-C skiing and skate skiing.
Most of the participants were beginner classic X-C skiers, however, the interest in learning about skate skiing has been steadily increasing over the last five years.
Skate skiing is a style of Nordic X-C skiing in which the skier uses skating motions to propel them across the snow using special skate skis and long skate ski poles. Typically, skate skiers are seen flying across the snow in comparison to classic X-C skiers, though, with current skiing and poling techniques, that is not always the case.
Locally, interest in classic X-C skiing and skate skiing X-C skiing has steadily increased since the Pagosa Nordic Club incorporated as a nonprofit volunteer organization in 2008. With nonprofit status, the Pagosa Nordic Club has been able to apply for grant funding to purchase trail grooming equipment, providing a number of groomed trails around Pagosa Country.
Due to the lack of snow at lower elevations this season, Pagosa Nordic is currently only able to groom 12 km. at the West Fork Nordic trails until storms drop more snow on the lower elevation trails. In addition, the Wolf Creek Ski Area has continued grooming 10 km. at Alberta Park and the Pagosa Ranger District began grooming 14 km. of trails at Coyote Hill in 2009, seeing that local interest in X-C skiing was increasing. All trails are groomed wide for skate skiing with set tracks for classic X-C skiing.
The Pagosa Nordic Club also took on the marketing of all area groomed X-C ski trails with the publication of an annual X-C skiing trail brochure and advertising in seasonal publications across Colorado and New Mexico. This has been very successful, bringing overnight guests to town to enjoy X-C skiing and providing additional activities to visitors already here in Pagosa enjoying other winter activities.
Events and activities
The Pagosa Nordic Club has also created a number of annual race events and free activities. Upcoming activities and events you should mark on your calendar include the following.
Feb. 1 is the next free X-C ski clinic in which participants can choose between classic X-C ski instruction or skate ski instruction. All local ski shops offer discounted rentals for the clinics. Never-evers, beginners and intermediates of all ages are welcome.
Feb. 14 is the next free moonrise/sunset X-C ski social when we meet at a predetermined trail, X-C ski under the colorful skies and meet back at the trailhead for some hot soup and chili next to a campfire with hot cocoa and s’mores. This is a great family activity for skiers of all ages.
The fourth annual WinterFest Nordic Ski Races are Feb. 15 and 16. This year’s events feature a biathlon, sprint races and relay races on Saturday and the new Plumtaw Ultra 30 km. and 60 km. freestyle X-C ski race on Sunday.
The Plumtaw Ultra was added as a means to attract serious racers from out of town and to provide a long race for locals to test their endurance skills.
The fourth annual Pagosa Paw Dog Sled Races are on Feb. 22 and 23. This two-day race event features eight-, six-, four- and two-dog team sledding events with canine skijoring events, too. This is an incredible spectator event with much of the excitement beginning at 8 a.m. as the dog sled teams are staging for their 9 a.m. race starting time. This is a must-see event for spectators.
On March 2, Pagosa Nordic hosts the third annual Pagosa Springs Quad Challenge, featuring a 10 km. freestyle X-C ski, 5 km. road run, 22 km. road bike and 1/2 km. swim. This has been one of Pagosa Nordic’s most popular races during the winter. Participants can race solo or in teams of up to four.
Pagosa Nordic event and activity information, trail maps and X-C ski trail grooming reports can be viewed at pagosanordic.com.