Spring on Snow
● By Christina Freeman
Competitors race uphill in one of five legs of the Steamboat Penathlon. Photo courtesy City of Steamboat Springs
With top-notch Nordic centers and miles of trails through National Forest, Steamboat Springs offers opportunities for all things Nordic. Long, sunny spring days mean opportunities to hit the trails for a quick loop or longer glides.
Lake Catamount: Open, rolling terrain; 30km of groomed trails. Crust skiing in spring. www.steamboatxcski.com | 970-871-6667
Howelsen Hill: An extensive trail system with 21km of groomed trails in the heart of downtown Steamboat. www.steamboatsprings.net/ski | 970-879-8499
Steamboat Ski Touring Center: 15km of groomed trails, a snowshoe trail, a Nordic ski shop, hearty lunches and snacks, plus rentals, lessons, clinics and tours. Open through early April. www.steamboatnordiccenter.com | 970-879-8180
Haymaker Nordic Center: New this year, with 8km of trail on flat to rolling terrain. www.steamboatxcski.com | 970-879-9444 Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach State Parks: Each state park offers about 15km of groomed trails surrounding their lakes. Rabbit Ears and Buffalo Passes: Trails are marked but not groomed, and favorites for classic skiing and snowshoeing include the 3.7-mile Loop 1A, and for experienced adventurers, the Hogan Park Trail linking Rabbit Ears Pass to the Steamboat Ski Area.
Ski the Crust
In spring, local Nordic skiers start watching temperatures to try to catch the crust, which forms when snow melts during warm, sunny days, then freezes during cold clear nights. Skiing crust is freeing: float along in any direction and make your own trails. Open rolling terrain on Rabbit Ears Pass is a favorite. Start early and finish no later than midmorning to avoid soft and punchy snow.
Race for Fun
The Steamboat Pentathlon may seem like an event only for the brave. But locals know better – it’s really a full day of fun.
Racers work individually or in teams to tackle five disciplines: alpine skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, biking and running. It’s rare for a racer to be an expert in all five events. That levels
the playing field and creates a challenge for even elite competitors. The Pentathlon is a locals’ favorite – some have participated or volunteered since the race’s inception more than 20 years ago – and
is gaining notoriety outside of Steamboat as well. All legs start and finish at the transition area at Howelsen Hill,
making this race an exciting one for friends and family to watch. The race finishes with a delicious lunch and a rockin’ post-race party. Register by Monday, March 3 for the race at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 8. www.steamboatpentathlon.com | 970-879-4300
Test Your Skills
The Glide the Divide, aka the North Routt Coureur des Bois, is arguably one of the most challenging single-day ski races in the world. A 55km course takes skiers to the Wyoming line and over the Divide, and a 100km course pushes advanced skiers to the limit. A 15km option is also available. Saturday, March 15. www.glidethedivide.com
Dress up in an Olympic/Viking themed costume and bring the family for the Håkan Memorial Nordic Fest, with Nordic events and prizes at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. Admission is by a donation to the Håkan Memorial Fund, which supports local Nordic skiers and jumpers. Saturday, March 22. www.steamboatnordiccenter.com | 970-879-8180
Fifteen skiers and riders with strong ties to Steamboat Springs and the Winter Sports Club are representing their home countries at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Nine will ski/ride for the United States; six others for other countries, including Australia (3), the Czech Republic (1), Russia (1) and Canada (1).
Todd Lodwick, a Nordic Combined veteran who already has 29 World Cup medals, including a silver medal from the 2010 Games, leads the contingency. He is the only American athlete to represent the U.S. in six Winter Olympics.
Find more Sochi coverage on www.steamboatmagazine.com