Skate skiing adds a faster dimension to cross-country

January 23, 2011 

In skate skiing, a speedier form of cross-country skiing, diagonal strides are used to move along the trail. The sport is gaining popularity among those who enjoy more vigorous cold-weather activity. Here are five places to give it a whirl.

Stevens Pass: With an average annual snowfall of 37 feet, this 70-year-old resort and Nordic center all but guarantees pristine conditions when you and your family visit. Once on the trail, you’ll move among firs and hemlocks in two national forests: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee. Skate skiers will appreciate the miles of machine-groomed trails winding among alpine lakes on the region’s sunny eastern slope. Lessons are available.

Contact: 206-812-4510; www.stevenspass.com

Minneapolis: Join the fun when skate skiers and cross-country enthusiasts gather for a loppet (ski festival) Feb. 5-6. Compete for the Middle of the Pack award in a freestyle race. Check out the ice sculpture contest, and get ready for the action with a carb-loading spaghetti feed. Kids will love the Minne-Loppet, a free event in which those 12 and younger can choose from a short or long course. All participants in the just-for-fun event receive hot cider, a warm cookie and a medal. When the sun sets, don’t miss the Luminary Loppet Party, where thousands of handcrafted ice luminaries, bonfires and refreshments warm the evening.

Contact: 612-604-5330; www.cityoflakesloppet.com

Winter Park, Colo.: Explore more than 60 miles of groomed trails on skate skis at this family favorite in the Colorado Rockies.

In addition to making the most of free skiing lessons offered by the Nordic Center at the YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch, enjoy more family fun. Go ice skating, tubing or sledding; play broomball; or create arts and crafts. Plus, get cozy for story time with hot chocolate and s’mores by the fire.

Contact: 1-800-777-9622; www.ymcarockies.org

McCall, Idaho: Bring your favorite furry friends for a day of outdoor fun in the snow. Dogs are welcome on Nordic trails in several locations throughout McCall, a mountain enclave two hours north of Boise. At Jug Mountain Ranch, the Lyle Nelson Nordic & Snowshoe Trail system, designed by the local Olympian, offers skate ski tracks for all abilities. Fido will romp in the snow as your family navigates trails at Tamarack Resort, where lessons and guided tours are also available.

Contact: www.tamarackidaho.com; www.jugmountainranch.com; www.mountainsofexperience.com/nordic-skiing.html

Juneau, Alaska: Pop on your skis and get things in perspective when you glide across Mendenhall Glacier Lake. With the massive glacier as your backdrop, the whole family will speed across the flat terrain in some of the most majestic scenery imaginable.

Check out the groomed Nordic trails at Eaglecrest, a community-owned resort on Douglas Island, minutes from Juneau.

Contact: 907-586-1737; www.traveljuneau.com/ listings/index.php; www. juneau.org/ecrestftp/index.php

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