Nordic Challenge opening season at Howelsen

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— The Nordic Challenge race series opens at 6 p.m. today with a criterium at Howelsen Hill.

The race, hosted by the Steamboat Springs Nordic Council, will feature youth, recreational and competitive divisions. Dave Miller, council president, said this is the first of six races planned for this winter at different locations in Routt County. The series, now in its fifth year, is aimed at both recreational and competitive skiers in Routt County.

Athletes can register at the race site from 5 to 5:30 p.m. Racing will begin with the youth division at 6 p.m. The recreational division will follow at 6:15 p.m., and the competitive division begins at 6:35 p.m.

Racers in the youth division will complete one timed lap. Skiers in the recreational division will ski a 1.1-kilometer loop for 10 minutes, plus a bell lap. The competitive division will challenge racers on a 1.7-kilometer loop. Skiers will race for 20 minutes, plus a bell lap.

"In the past, we've opened with a relay, but nobody liked standing around waiting for their teammates to complete a lap," Miller said. "This will be our first criterium, and we are hoping that the format will be popular."

The races will start and finish in the rodeo grounds. The cost to enter the event is $16 the day of the race. There is a discount for skiers who register early.

Interested skiers can stop by the Steamboat Ski Touring Center to register or sign up at the site of the race on race day. Registration forms can be obtained online at steamboatscski.org. Those forms can be dropped off at the Ski Touring Center.

The next race is Jan. 14 at Vista Verde Ranch. Other events include Steamboat Lake on Jan. 21, The Steamboat Ski Touring Center on Jan. 27, The Mountain Cuts Howelsen Hill Climb on Feb. 4 and the Lake Catamount race on Feb. 25.

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