Justin Easter leads a group of participants at the Steamboat Nordic Ski Camp, December 16 at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. Local Nordic racers have a full plate of ski events coming up, starting 10 a.m. Sunday with the annual New Year's Relay at the Touring Center.

Emily Lovett/courtesy

Justin Easter leads a group of participants at the Steamboat Nordic Ski Camp, December 16 at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center. Local Nordic racers have a full plate of ski events coming up, starting 10 a.m. Sunday with the annual New Year's Relay at the Touring Center.

Nordic Council tunes schedule with events

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— Local cross-country skiers might notice a streamlined look to this year's schedule of race events.

Steamboat Springs Nordic Council member Emily Lovett explained the reason to condense the number of longtime events down to fewer days to mark on the calendar.

"Last year, with a race every weekend, between (the Lake Catamount Touring Center) and the (Steamboat) Ski Touring Center, it became a lot for everyone to organize," Lovett said. "We thought it would be better to combine some and have fewer event days."

Coming up Jan. 5, the Ski Touring Center will combine the annual Steamboat Stampede with the second of five Nordic Challenge series races, hosting both on the same Saturday.

Touring Center owner Birgitta Lindgren said the Stampede - what she called "our biggie for the year" - will include a 23K classic race that will be part of Rocky Mountain Nordic's 12-race, statewide Colorado Cup series. The event also will include a 42K freestyle race that will not count toward Colorado Cup point rankings. Lindgren said the Stampede course has not yet been set, but will include a variation of the Fish Creek, Boot Hill and Meadows Trails.

What makes this year different is that the second Nordic Challenge race of the year - which will include 1, 3, 5 and 10K races - will be held the same day.

Lovett said Lake Catamount Touring Center organizers will also be combining its long-distance event of the winter, the Feb. 16 Steamboat Ski Marathon, with the fifth and final Nordic Challenge race on the same date.

Lake Catamount Touring Center operator Dave McAtee said that the 38 kilometers of trails should be groomed and ready for use today, after a brief delay in grooming operations. Skiers at the Lake Catamount trail system can look forward to a pair of upcoming programs - Jan. 20 marks the first of monthly one-day Skate Ski Workshops ($35), and Jan. 11 marks the beginning of the four-week Women's Fitness Series ($120).

Lindgren also reminded avid racers and cross-country amateurs alike not to forget the upcoming annual New Year's Relay, starting 10 a.m. Sunday.

"It's a good way to start out the new year or end the last one," Lindgren said. "It's for everybody and anybody. We encourage everyone to come out and have a good time, even without a team. You can come and we'll find you one."

The relay has three-skier team divisions for adults (7.5K lap) and children (2K lap) and includes a prize drawing. Cost is $30 per team and the first skier must complete a classic lap.

None of the above Ski Touring Center events are capped and participants can register on race day, although the Nordic Challenge and Stampede events have early registration discounts. Contact the Ski Touring Center at 879-8180 or www.nordicski.net. Call the Lake Catamount Touring Center at 871-6667 or visit www.steamboatxcski.org for full information, prices, schedule and registration forms.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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