Locals hope to generate interest

Business designed to promote cross country skiing

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— Katie Lindquist and Emily McWatters wouldn't mind if the number of cross country skiers eventually equaled the number of motorists in Steamboat Springs.

In Italy, kilometers of trails link small villages, and everyone takes full advantage of traveling via ski rather than vehicle, McWatters said.

"We're Ski Town USA, yet we drive everywhere," Lindquist said.

In Routt County, there are more than 120 kilometers of trails groomed for use, but currently less than 10 percent of the county's population uses them.

That's where Lindquist and McWatters come in. The friends and cross country enthusiasts recently created Nordic Link, a business designed to promote, create interest in and build a community for cross country skiing in Routt County.

Lindquist and McWatters offer services including clinics, workshops and instruction. They hope to draw both tourists and locals to support the sport and the county's Nordic centers.

Both women are Professional Ski Instructors of America-certified instructors with more than 20 years of teaching experience between the two of them.

The idea for creating Nordic Link came in part from the success of friend Muffy Ritz, a master skier and originator of a similar program in Sun Valley, Idaho, Lindquist said.

What originally started as private lessons for a handful of women turned into a Sun Valley program boasting 89 women excited about the chance to ski and socialize.

Lindquist and McWatters are both interested in creating similar levels of enthusiasm for men and women in the Routt County area.

"You can cross country ski at all abilities," Lindquist said. "We want to make it accessible to everybody."

Currently, Nordic Link is offering instruction in skiing technique, training and fitness, equipment evaluation, performance and waxing.

The company is also offering women's clinics.

In addition to their instructional classes, Lindquist and McWatters have started a "Tours and Packages" program for individuals or groups wanting a full cross country experience. Nordic Link participants can go on half- or full-day ski or snowshoe tours in a variety of areas in Routt County, or create their own getaway.

Nordic Link is offering services at Howelsen Hill, Catamount Touring Center, Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Steamboat Lake/Mountain Recreation, The Home Ranch and the Steamboat Ski Touring Center.

"We want to cater to the whole cross country skiing community in Steamboat," McWatters said.

While February's calendar has not been finalized, interested skiers can expect courses in instruction along with a clinic/tour that will include a cooking class. Trial runs of the skiing and cooking combination programs have proven popular locally.

Next on the calendar is a women's Nordic clinic from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at the Lake Catamount Touring Center, which includes lunch.

Nordic Link clinics usually run around $40, while the longer full-day tours are around $65.

Anyone interested in a clinic or tour package can call McWatters at 879-8149 or Lindquist at 879-5780.

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