Whether you’re competing for the thrill of victory or just want to enter a race to set a new personal record, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in Nordic skiing events throughout the state, which add that occasional sense of camaraderie and excitement to the sport, without being intimidating.
Some of the 10 events we note below are fundraisers for excellent causes, while others are classic races/events that have become traditions to the many participants who look forward to them each year. All will introduce you to the communities of skiers that make the events and the sport so endearing.
Winter Trails Day
Where: Various outdoor centers around Vermont
Why ski it: This fun event organized by the Snowsports Industries of America is an opportunity to try a new winter sport with free demos of snowshoeing and cross country skiing equipment. If you’re looking to try something new or hoping to convince a friend to join you, consider snowshoeing and cross country skiing at any of 10 locations around the state including Blueberry Lake in Warren, the Woodstock Nordic Center in Woodstock, the Strafford Nordic Center in Strafford and more.
Ethan Allen Winter Biathlon Series:
Jan. 15, Feb. 5, 12, 19
Where: Ethan Allen Biathlon Range, Jericho
Why ski it: These races are a great opportunity for skiers of all abilities to experience biathlon racing. Every winter the EABC holds a six-race winter biathlon race series on Thursday evenings under the lights throughout January and February. These races are open to beginners as well as experienced biathletes for distances of 5 to 7 kilometers freestyle technique. Safety clinic, instruction and shared rifles are available for novices. Awards are given at the end of the series.
Ski for Heat
Where: Various Nordic ski areas around the state
Cost: Participants raise funds for fuel assistance programs around the state.
Why ski it: Grab your skis, snowboard, cross country skis or snowshoes and support a good cause while enjoying the snow. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to Vermonters struggling to keep warm and in need of emergency fuel assistance through the winter. Check your favorite alpine or Nordic ski area for details.
34th Annual Craftsbury Marathon
Where: Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury, Vt.
Why ski it: This year, the classic Craftsbury Marathon will form the second part of the National Masters Cross Country Championship at the center. Ski between 25K and 50K on scenic terrain from neighboring Greensboro to Craftsbury. It’s one of the most beautiful Nordic courses in the Northeast, draws a large crowd and, like the Boston or New York City marathons, is one of the more exciting ski marathons in the region.
Camel’s Hump Challenge
Where: Camel’s Hump Nordic Ski Area, Huntington
Cost: Participants in the Camel’s Hump Challenge raise money by collecting pledges to support their “Round the Hump” trek. All skiers collect a minimum of $150.
Why ski it: This high-country traverse is approximately 25K and requires about six to eight hours of skiing around the summit of one of Vermont’s highest and most notable mountains, Camel’s Hump. The event is a fundraiser for the Vermont Alzheimer’s Association. It’s a great backcountry experience for a great cause.
Romance Half Marathon
Where: Rikert Nordic Center, Ripton
Why ski it: Bring your sweetie or just yourself and enjoy a 25K race through Rikert’s outer trails and follow parts of the Catamount trail. The event consists of two-parts, a leisurely tour or a race component for those who feel competitive. The tour features two or three long loops with hot food stops, including blueberry soup, in the stadium and on a remote hilltop at the course’s far point. Following the event there will be an aprés ski party in the barn with food from Chipman, Waybury and Bluberry Hill Inns. For additional information call 802-443-2744 or email email@example.com. The event includes awards and raffle prizes.
Where: Starts on Mt. Mansfield, Stowe
Cost: $35 – $90
Why ski it: This historic race attracts close to 900 competitors, ranging from Canadian cross country ski team members and NCAA champions to recreational skiers looking for a thrill. While the race can be very competitive at all levels, it is also a fun race, having been chosen as one of the top sporting events in the state by readers of Vermont Sports Magazine. This year debuts a fat bike division.
Lake Placid Nordic Festival
Feb. 27 – March 1
Where: Mt. Van Hoevenberg – Olympic Sports Complex, Lake Placid, N.Y.
Cost: $125 (for races only)
Why ski it: Whether you’re an elite level skier or a novice, here’s a cross-country skiing event that’s not to be missed. The three-day festival will include ski, waxing and Orienteering clinics, demonstrations, dinners and parties, discounts on demos, rentals and merchandise, sales and touring to include headlamp tours on Mirror Lake and the Cascade Cross Country Ski Center. The festival culminates on March 1 with the running of the 33rd annual Lake Placid Loppet, which features 50K and 25K distances.
Ski & Shoe to the Clouds
Where: Great Glen Trails; Goreham, N.H
Why ski it: Even though it was first held in 1996 and is part of the history of racing up Mt. Washington, Ski & Shoe to the Clouds now utilizes the Great Glen Trails Nordic system for 4 kilometers before a steep ascent up the Mt. Washington Auto Road for 6 kilometers. In the past, the race used only terrain on the Auto Road, limiting the distance. The race will finish just before the halfway point of the Mt. Washington Auto Road at about 3,800 feet above sea level. This race is a true test of fitness in one of the Northeast’s most challenging environments.
Catamount Trail Classic
Where: Starts at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe; ends at Bolton Valley ski resort
Cost: Minimum donation of $50
Why ski it: This classic race along the section of the Catamount Trail is a fundraiser for the CTA’s Ski Cubs Youth Ski Program. The Catamount Trail Classic is 9.4 miles long and is designed for experienced skiers who have a true sense of adventure and are prepared for the unexpected. Each individual is required to bring a small backpack with food, water, and extra clothes since there will be no official aid stations on the course. Climbing skins are highly recommended. You will be challenged by the terrain and rewarded with great descents and spectacular views.