Nordic skiers enjoy soft skating conditions at Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass on Sunday. The Steamboat Ski Touring Center also is open with 3.5 kilometers of trails in town.

Photo by Tom Ross

Nordic skiers enjoy soft skating conditions at Bruce’s Trail on Rabbit Ears Pass on Sunday. The Steamboat Ski Touring Center also is open with 3.5 kilometers of trails in town.

Fish Creek, Bruce’s trails open to cross-country enthusiasts

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— The opening of Steam­boat Ski Area for Alpine skiers and snowboarders still is a week away, but cross-country skiers in Steamboat have two options this week.

The Steamboat Ski Touring Center, operating from the clubhouse of the Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club, made the most of the recent snowstorm to open the beginners’ area and the Fish Creek Trail on Sunday.

Fish Creek is open only to the bridge at Steamboat Boulevard, requiring skiers to reverse course and ski back to the lodge, the Touring Center’s Betsy Frick said.

Daily trail passes will remain at the early season $5 rate until new snow allows the opening of additional trails, she added.

Coach Greg Rawlings and the members of the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team have made the most of the opportunity to train on snow this week.

“The facilities are excellent, and we haven’t missed a training session on snow,” Rawlings said. “This is very cost-effective for us.”

Six members of the U.S. team, including four past Olympians, will compete in time trials beginning at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday to determine spots for the opening World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, during the second week in December.

The classic and skate tracks at the Touring Center were holding up pretty well Sunday, but grass protruded from the snow at places along the trail. Once skiers climbed out of the parking lot area, there were no bare spots on the trail.

Skiers also have the option of driving about 15 miles up Rabbit Ears Pass to Bruce’s Trail and another climate zone.

The parking lot was nearly full Saturday with skiers enjoying good skating conditions at an elevation of about 9,300 feet in the Routt National Forest.

The weekend skiing attracted people from as far as Winter Park.

“We often see skiers from the University of Wyoming and the Boulder (Nordic Junior Racing Team) up there this time of year,” Frick said.

Dave Miller, of Steamboat Springs, has been doing the grooming chores.

Skiing on Bruce’s is under the auspices of a Forest Service guiding permit held by the Touring Center. Typically, grooming on Rabbit Ears is suspended as soon as the Touring Center is 100 percent open, Frick said.

The Touring Center will host an organizational meeting with an on-snow session from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday for skiers interested in learning more about the Masters’ Program. It is intended to help skiers elevate their skills and training methods, with the possible intent of entering races.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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