Nordic: Away from the bustle in the Vail Valley |

Nordic: Away from the bustle in the Vail Valley

Dustin Racioppi
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Saturday marked the opening of what Beaver Creek’s Nate Goldberg calls “the other side of the mountain.”

On the other side, away from the bustle of mass skiing and snowboarding, is where about 20 of McCoy Park’s 32-kilometers of trails opened up for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Snowshoe and cross-country trails at the Vail Nordic Center have been open for a couple of weeks.

“We always look forward to getting the doors open and getting the tracks open,” Goldberg, product manager at the Beaver Creek Nordic Sports Center, said.

It also was a tough task to lure in the other side of snow sport enthusiasts. Several dozen people showed up to the sports center Saturday to take a lift up to McCoy Park or inquire about prices and details of the season. Opening day for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing just doesn’t come with the same hoopla as downhill skiing and snowboarding does. But the people will come soon enough, Goldberg said.

“The big thing is letting people know that Nordic Center is open,” he said. “It takes a while for people to hear that we’re open.”

And there is undoubtedly a market for the quieter type of snow recreation, Goldberg added.

“There’s always somebody in the family who doesn’t ski or ride,” he said. “We kind of fit that ticket.”

Florida native Cathy Thornhill was one of the first people to hit the trails Saturday morning, along with her grandson, J.B. After dislocating her shoulder skiing last year, she made the switch to snowshoeing, and without regrets.

“This is the best,” she said. “We had a good adventure. It was just so beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.”

Goldberg said his side of the mountain a close look at nature and scenery ” which is another reason cross-country skiing and snowshoeing ” and the center’s many tours ” are popular.

“You get to learn about the local history, and it’s a great alternative to skiing or snowboarding. Or if you’re tired from two or three days of skiing, it’s a great way to get out and get exercise,” he said. “It’s a very unique trail system.”

J.B. Thornhill elaborated on that point after making his second-ever snowshoeing trip Saturday.

“When you’re skiing you can’t see all the wildlife. With this, you can go slower and see everything,” the 9-year-old said.

He won’t stop skiing, Thornhill said, though he likes having the options. And he will be back at the Nordic Center again with his family on their next visit to the valley.

“Oh yes,” he said.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or 3

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