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Skiing in the New Year

Cross-country tour tradition continues

— For a few, dedicated, cross-country skiers in Steamboat Springs celebrating the arrival of the New Year is a time-honored tradition that has more to do with kilometers than kegs.

This Sunday the Steamboat Ski Touring Center will host the final event of 2001 when it rings in a New Year just a little bit early with the annual New Year’s Eve Relay races.

The race is always held on the final Sunday of the year. Organizer Birgetta Lindgren said the idea behind the event is pretty simple.

“It’s just about getting out on the skis and having some fun,” Lindgren said.

The three-lap race will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday and is expected to draw a field of about 50 skiers to the center.

“It’s a good, healthy way to bring in the New Year,” said Kirsten Ames, a local skier and endurance athlete. She couldn’t remember the last time she missed the race, which has been held for at least the past 15 years.

Teams are made up of three skiers and each skier on the team is required to complete a 7.5-kilometer lap on the touring center’s rolling terrain. Cost to enter the event is $21 per team.

The only catch is that the skier who completes the first leg must use the classic style. The other skiers on the team can either skate-ski (freestyle) or classic-ski the final two legs.

“We wanted to make it so that any Joe Blow skier could come out and take part in the event. We didn’t want to limit the field by making the course too difficult,” Lindgren said.

Ames said she was planning on lining up her final teammate for the race this week before the event.

She said finding skiers who will do the freestyle portion of the event is easy but it’s much harder to line up a skier who will handle the classical portion.

Some of the skiers will complete the classic leg for one team then turn around and ski the freestyle leg for another squad.

“It’s pretty laid-back,” Ames said. “It’s about camaraderie and just having fun.”

Ames said she enjoys the races because it brings together a wide range of people who all share a love of cross-country skiing for an event in which it really doesn’t seem to matter who is the winner. She said it’s a place where a 45-year-old skier can get out on the same course as a young and upcoming star who is still looking to make his or her mark.

“It’s fun because some of these kids are going to grow up to be Olympians,” Ames said. “It’s like skiing against the future Todd Lodwicks, Bill Demongs and Matt Daytons.”


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