Eagle Nordic Fest raises skiing funds | VailDaily.com

Eagle Nordic Fest raises skiing funds

Derek Franz
Eagle, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily

EAGLE, Colorado – Years ago, a town golf committee planted the seed for the very first Eagle Nordic Fest.

The festival, planned this Saturday will feature a variety of races, lunch and free instruction.

Eagle Ranch Golf Club Manager Jeff Boyer said two members on that town committee – Willy Powell and Glen Ewing – are avid Nordic skiers and coaches. From the advent of the Eagle Ranch development they both talked about setting tracks on the golf course during the winter.

“The concern was that there wasn’t the financial return to buy equipment,” Boyer said. “After hearing that a few times I guess they decided if they could get some equipment, they could get something to happen.”

Happen it did. The men formed the Eagle Valley Nordic Council last year and managed to get two key pieces of equipment. Vail Resorts gave the group a snowmobile and Vail Nordic Center leased a track-setter. The latter is needed for a skate-skiing course.

Boyer said golf club staff helped the council decide where to lay the tracks.

“It was a big hit. The trails were well-used,” he said.

The only problem was that the track-setter was old and didn’t work so well for the nonprofit group.

With last year’s success, however, Eagle County awarded the council $10,000. With another $6,000 the Nordic council was able to buy its own track-setter.

“It’s been a huge improvement from last year,” Boyer said.

Nordic Fest race organizer Sean Kerrigan said the setter has especially helped during this low-snow year.

“We haven’t been able to set ‘classic’ tracks this year because it requires more snow than we’ve had,” he said. “Fact is, though, we’ve got skating tracks and the community seems thrilled.”

“Classic” tracks are when the skis stay in grooves, like a set of train tracks.

The main event on Saturday will be the “freestyle skate-ski race.” Kids up to 12 years old will have a mass start for a 1K race at 11 a.m. The adults start the 6K race at 11:45 a.m. A 1K kids snowshoe race clomps over the line at 11:20 a.m. Free instruction clinics will follow the races.

“‘Freestyle’ means if you wanna walk, crawl, classic, you can do it,” Kerrigan said.

Entry fees are $20 for adults and $10 kids. Lunch will be included and all the money will go to the Eagle Valley Nordic Council. Spectators can buy lunch as well.

The Eagle Pool and Ice Rink will start taking preregistrations Monday, Feb. 1. Day-of-race registration will be 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Organizers encourage anyone who might be curious about Nordic skiing to check it out.

“The free instruction is for any level of skills, including advanced,” Powell said. “We want to invite all people to participate.”

Boyer said the skiing is a positive thing for the golf course.

“There are homeowners here who don’t golf,” he said. “The skiing might make them happy they have the golf course. It’s an added amenity. Hopefully the race is something that can grow into a great traditional event and get some awareness for the Nordic council.”

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