FIS examines Maloit Park trails for Nordic competition
EAGLE COUNTY — Decades ago, when Dan Weiland attended Minturn Middle School, he never imagined the school’s trails would one day be visited by the International Ski Federation.
But those trails have been inspected and are awaiting a rubber stamp from the FIS, which would allow high-level competition to take place there.
Weiland, who is now the Nordic program director for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, is beyond excited about what the new level of certification could bring to the area.
“Our hope, moving forward, is to look at higher caliber races that we could potentially host out here,” Weiland said, citing the SuperTour as a possibility. The United States Ski and Snowboard Association SuperTour is the premier cross-country race series in North America.
“We’re hoping it brings in some dollars. We want people to spend money in the town of Minturn and give back to this community that supports us,” Weiland said.
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Michelle Metteer, the town’s economic development director, said Minturn could definitely benefit from FIS-caliber events in town.
“I think, events aside, the more people that realize those are world-class trails out there, the more benefit that will bring to the town,” she said. “I know I’ve been wanting to get out the cross-country skis and check them out myself.”
The Maloit Park trail system is owned by Eagle County Schools and is open to the public. Back when Weiland was a student, the school that abuts the trail system was known as Minturn Middle School. It is now the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, the first public ski academy in the nation.
FROM VSSA TO DU AND BACK
In a test event of sorts, the Maloit Park trails will host a NCAA event in cooperation with the University of Denver and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail on Feb. 27-28. Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy alums Anna Martin and Christian Shanley are both students at the University of Denver and are expected to return to the course they grew up on and compete in the NCAA Western Regional Championship event.
“Hopefully it helps the district and our school grow, and get more kids,” Weiland said. “That’s the whole idea.”
The FIS certification was made possible by Eagle County Schools this summer after the district approved a new cut on the course.
“That cut is maybe 60 meters long,” Weiland said. “With that new cut, that basically gave us enough total climb on the course to get certified.”
When Weiland used to Nordic ski the Maloit Park trails as a middle school student, he would go back there with his gym teacher and explore the area.
“What I skied on at Minturn Middle School was a little 4-foot trail,” he said. “Now the width we’re doing is basically 6 meters, or about 20 feet of width. It’s a great addition for us. It was never in my thought process that we would have a FIS homologated course right out our back door.”