Nordic racing again in Steamboat’s spring
April 1, 2016
Steamboat Springs — A long, spring Nordic ski race has not yet caught on in Routt County, but it's not for a lack of trying in the past decade.
Sunday, local organizers will attempt such an event again, launching skiers as far as 34 kilometers in the inaugural Rabbit Ears Marathon cross country ski race.
"We're going to give it a try," Steamboat Springs Nordic Council president Scott Myller said. "There's still eight feet of snow up there."
The event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and will take place on trails maintained by Steamboat Snowmobile Tours on the western side of Rabbit Ears Pass, just off U.S. Highway 40.
More information is available at steamboatxcski.com, and Myller said to register before Sunday for the cheaper $50 rate, potential racers can call him at 970-846-1700. Day-of registration will be available on site for $100.
The race is the latest marathon-length ski event to try to gain momentum in the county.
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It's been preceded by a series of events that often proved popular, but none of which have managed to stick.
The North Routt Glide the Divide event — or the Coureur des Bois, as the event changed names midway through its life — lasted 10 years and was last run in 2014.
It proved to be a bear for racers, billing itself as one of, if not the, most challenging Nordic ski races in the United States, with 90- and 45-kilometer courses.
The Steamboat Coureur race, run in 2012 and 2013 on Rabbit Ears Pass, was a different beast. It was designed to be as inclusive as possible, including divisions for skiers, as well as snow cyclists and even snow unicyclists.
Its inaugural running, on the same trails the new Rabbit Ears Marathon will race, was hamstrung by a lack of snow. Organizers had to push the event forward a week, ruining any shot at major participation, and within two years, that race disappeared, as well.
North Routt saw a revival, of sorts, of the Glide the Divide event last month with The Home Ranch Round Up race, which attracted about 40 finishers for courses as long as 45K.
Myller said he and the Nordic Council still sense an appetite for another good, long spring Steamboat race.
Funds raised from the event will help finance both the Nordic Council itself and the annual early season grooming that takes place on Bruce's Trail, also on Rabbit Ears Pass.
There will be 5K and 17K courses available, with a variety of distance options built in to those two routes, including 5K, 10K, 17K and 34K races.
"It's a really, really beautiful area," he said. "It's just lovely, not very hilly, and you're going in and out of the trees."
He said nearly 60 racers had already signed up as of Friday morning, and he’s hoping for more by the time of the race.
Hopefully, he said, it's the start of an annual spring event, positioned after most of the other major national events. If all goes well, it could become what other long, spring Nordic races couldn’t: a permanent fixture on the Routt County Nordic skiing calendar.
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