Last winter, the Tiger Gliders Nordic Ski Club went week to week wondering whether there would be enough snow for practice.
This winter, Mother Nature has set the stage for what's sure to be a successful second season for budding young skiers in Hayden.
The after-school program, which begins Jan. 4, aims to introduce students in first through eighth grades to cross-country skiing.
"To me, it's just a wonderful outdoor healthy activity for kids and an activity they'll have for the rest of their lives," said Tammie Delaney, who will coach the skiers with teacher Robin Bush.
The club will include eight practice sessions at a 1-mile ski loop at Dry Creek Park across from Hayden Valley Elementary School.
After students have basic skills, they will have the opportunity to ski trails at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center and Howelsen Hill and also participate in Nordic Challenge Series races in Steamboat.
Delaney also is arranging for guest coaches to introduce students to ski biathlon, which combines Nordic skiing with target shooting.
The lesser-known sport, which is featured in the Olympics, could be a good fit for Hayden youths, some of whom participate in target-shooting competitions through 4-H, she said.
"If we can get some of our target shooters skiing and some of our skiers shooting, it would be a perfect sport for Hayden," Delaney said.
She is scheduling three Friday clinics with local biathlon experts.
"Those that are doing biathlon would love to see kids get into it," she said, noting that the Steamboat Spring Winter Sports Club also has a biathlon program.
The Tiger Glider program is $50 a student, a cost that helps cover expenses associated with snacks, team hats and maintenance of the ski track.
Students must bring cross-country ski gear. Equipment from the elementary school is available for practices only.
If possible, Delaney recommends students rent equipment for the season so they can ski at home and outside of practice. Season rentals are available at Ski Haus in Steamboat for about $70 (879-0385) and at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center for about $75 (879-8180).
Students can arrange to use elementary school equipment by calling Michelle Wilke after Jan. 2 at 276-3756.