Nordic center staying busy in Vail |

Nordic center staying busy in Vail

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” The brisk sound of skis scraping against smooth, corduroy trails mean that business is booming at the Vail Nordic Center in Vail, Colorado.

While many Vail businesses, and even Vail Resorts, are reporting that revenue has been down this season, the cross country skiing and snowshoe center is actually seeing an increase in business.

Revenues from season passes, day passes, rentals, lessons and sales are up 5 percent from last year, said Vail Nordic Center owner Mia Stockdale.

The center has sold over 400 season passes so far this year and expect to sell about 500 before the season is over ” that’s compared to about 325 from last season.

Lessons and day pass sales are also strong, she said.

Stockdale said she attributes the growing number of cross-country skiers and snowshoers to the fact that the Nordic center is affordable, and that people are still investing in their health despite the recession.

“People are kind of prioritizing,” she said. “They’re like, ‘This is what I’ve got,’ and it seems this is where they’re going to spend it. The Nordic Center is peaceful and not crowded, it’s great exercise, and it’s challenging.”

Denver resident Kirsten Thompson said she comes up to Vail about twice a week to classic cross-country ski. To deal with the economy, she is cutting back on some expenses, such as going out to eat and even cutting out a ski weekend, but she hasn’t cut back on cross country, she said.

“When it comes to the pocket book, I definitely prefer cross country skiing,” she said. “Also, it’s good exercise, it’s peaceful, the people are the friendliest, and there are never lift lines.”

The Nordic Center has tried to keep its prices affordable, Stockdale said ” a day pass is $8, and a season pass is $90. Both prices have increased slightly since last year, but still are about half the price of other Nordic centers around the state.

Classic ski rentals and a day pass costs $25, and a bowl of chili and a cookie after skiing is a mere $5.50.

Stockdale said she’s noticed an increasing number of people getting seriously into the sport for the first time. Many people have bought season passes and the entire ski equipment package.

The sport is also popular with many local runners and cyclists who use it to stay in shape for the summer, she said.

Some said they find it a great alternative to alpine skiing on the mountain.

“It’s great for the vacationers who don’t want to alpine ski,” Stockdale said. “You can rent the gear and march around on the classic skis, and this is perfect beginner terrain.”

Karen Rutkovsky, on vacation from Illinois, was getting fitted for a pair of skate skis Wednesday afternoon. Her family was alpine skiing, but she opted to ski at the Nordic center for the week instead.

“I haven’t been (alpine skiing) in so long,” she said. “I’ve just loved it. It’s so calm and peaceful.”

She added that despite the family business struggling due to the economy, she and her husband opted to come out for their yearly Vail vacation anyway.

“We planned for the worst case,” she said of their finances. “But we plan this trip every year and my husband loves it. We still want to come out.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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