By Ben Olson
Who said you can’t get anything for free anymore?
SIA is a national organization that aims to provide access to winter sports for people across the nation. Last year alone, more than 4 million people participated at over 100 events held for Nordic skiing.
According to their mission statement, “Winter Trails offers children and adults across the country the chance to try snowshoeing and cross country skiing and to discover the great fitness benefits of these easy-to-learn sports.”
The first aspect of Winter Trails Day involves snow shoeing, which, in my experience, is one hell of a workout, and grants you access to pristine backcountry areas.
The festivities kickoff at 10 a.m. with an interpretive (nature-based) hosted snowshoe hike until 11:30 a.m. At noon, a half-hour class will be offered with an introduction to snowshoeing hosted hike. Another nature-based hosted snowshoe hike will be offered from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The hikes and introductions are absolutely free, but you must have a pass to access the trails. You can pick up a free pass at the Activity Center, Guest Services or the Ski and Ride Center at Schweitzer. Reserve a space for the snowshoe hikes by contacting the Activity Center at 255-3081.
“There are a lot of people who, when they hear the word skiing, just think of alpine or downhill,” said Dig Chrismer, marketing director at Schweitzer. “This is another way to look at skiing.”
The Sandpoint Nordic Club and Schweitzer Mountain Resort have teamed up to teach all those interested how to cross-country ski. All day on Jan. 9 there will be free Nordic skiing demos and lessons on specifically groomed beginner trails. Free rentals are also available on a reservation basis. In addition, when you receive your free rentals, you will also get a coupon for a $35 lesson package, which includes rental, lesson and trail fee for select future dates. Valid dates are: Jan. 18, Jan. 24 or Feb. 20.
According to Vicki Longhini, president of Sandpoint Nordic Club, cross-country skiing is widely recognized as one of the best workouts you can give your body.
“The highest fitness levels are found in Nordic skiers,” said Longhini. “Alpine skiing is more of a recreational sport, whereas in Nordic skiing you have to use your upper and lower body. It’s also a great social sport to do. There are a lot of community and social aspects to the sport. Nordic skiing is a way for people to strap on skis and be skiers in a less intimidating and costly level.”
Both Classic Skiing and Skate Skiing instruction will be offered, with all the action taking place at “The Roundabout” on the road up to Schweitzer. Contact the Ski and Ride Center to reserve equipment. Reservations fill up fast, so be sure to contact them early. Note, you will not need to pick up a pass for skiing at “The Roundabout.”
Scheduled activities take place as follows:
8:30-9:15 a.m. – Fitting for Session 1
9:30-11 a.m. – Session 1 lessons and free skiing
11-11:45 a.m. – Fitting for Session 2
12-1:30 p.m. – Session 2 lessons and free skiing
1:30-2:15 p.m. – Fitting for Session 3 “Striker Session” 12-18 years old only.
2:30-3:45 p.m. – Session 3 “Striker Session”
Sandpoint Nordic Club will have 17 instructors on hand Saturday, and Longhini expects well over 100 people to turn out for the free day.
“This is the perfect way to introduce people to Nordic,” said Chrismer. “We have 32 kilometers of trails up here. They’re the same trails people like to mountain bike, hike and run in the summer. This is another way to explore those trails.”
What are you waiting for? It’s fun for the whole family, it’s good exercise… and did we mention that it’s free?
To learn more about Winter Trails Day, contact Schweitzer at 263-9555. To learn about how to become a member of the Sandpoint Nordic Club, go to www.sandpointnordic.com.