By Ben Olson
The 48th annual Boulder Mountain Tour Nordic ski event has changed from an in-person event in Sun Valley to an in-person ski-where-you-are-event due to COVID-19.
Sandpoint’s BMT Community Organizer Katie Bradish — who first participated in the event in 2019 in Sun Valley — is organizing a race day at the Schweitzer Nordic Trails on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 8 a.m. Anyone who would like to participate in the event can join that day, or the BMT will accept race times any time from Feb. 1-7.
“[The BMT] is the best known (and maybe the only?) ski marathon in Idaho and is best known for its 1,100 feet of elevation loss,” Bradish told the Reader. “When we do the digital version here at Schweitzer, there are certainly no options to lose elevation. We’ll be gaining for sure.”
Participants can choose to race a 15K or 30K route, with laps and loops on the same train permitted. Skiers can also opt to participate at Mount Spokane or other local Nordic centers.
There are four different difficulty levels available to ski at Schweitzer: Black includes laps on Coyote Canyon, Blue+ includes skiing all of Schweitzer’s 32K of trails, Blue incorporates laps on Cloudwalker, and Green can be achieved by skiing out-and-back laps on the roundabout trail, which provides the least challenging terrain in the area. The Green option is the best for beginners looking to feel successful in their early distance efforts.
“I am still a new skier,” Bradish said. “This is my third session with skinny skis underfoot. I came into this sport after a period of a lot of distance trail running and my meat suit was showing wear and tear. … Skiing feels like a more sustainable, lifetime sport. It’s also a great way to be outside in the winter.”
Bradish said ideal Nordic skiing conditions dovetail nicely for those who seek powder for downhill skiing.
“Big dumps of snow equal great lift service and not such great Nordic,” she said. “When there is no new snow, hit the Nordic center.”
For those participating for the first time in this self-supported, virtual distance race, Bradish offered a few tips to log the best possible time: wear a watch to track distance and clock your time. She also said to carry water and food.
“If you are going out as hard as you possibly can, consider fueling with gels,” she said. “If you are taking more of a distance tour approach, real, actual food should work just fine.”
She also said for participants to feel free to wear previous race bibs, BMT hats and race suits.
“And wax your skis, folks,” she added.
As this is not an official Schweitzer event, other skiers and bikers will be on the trail, so be polite and yield to others while on the trails. There will also be no food, water or course markers, so come prepared to self-support while on the trail. Finally, there is no race sweeper, so pay attention to the trail maps. Participants need to purchase a Schweitzer Nordic trail pass prior to the event, which are available online at schweitzer.com.
The race fee is $39 for adults and $25 for juniors, which includes a race hat, sponsor collateral, stickers and a training plan. Sign up at bouldermountaintour.com.
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