Club Pro­file: Tel­l­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion

SkiTrax - - Contents - By Lisa Evans

by Lisa Evans

Tel­luride, Colo. pro­claims it­self Amer­ica's Great­est Ski Town, and with great rea­son. The area was re­cently named No. 1 in scenery by Ski Mag­a­zine, and with 300 days of sun­shine each year, Tel­luride is con­sis­tently ranked among the top-des­ti­na­tion ski re­sorts. Although this small, re­mote town is well known for its ski hills, it also has a very ac­tive Nordic as­so­ci­a­tion.

Formed in 1990 to en­cour­age pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in cross-coun­try ski­ing in the Tel­luride re­gion, the Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion has been pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion-en­hance­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­di­vid­u­als of all ages and abil­i­ties. Although Nordic ski trails have ex­isted in the re­gion since the mid-1970's, the ab­sence of an as­so­ci­a­tion meant trails were not well-groomed.

To make Nordic ski­ing more at­trac­tive to lo­cals and guests who ar­rive at the pre­mier ski area, the Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion be­gan of­fer­ing mem­ber­ships to in­di­vid­ual sup­port­ers. The As­so­ci­a­tion cur­rently has more than 100 paid mem­bers. The ma­jor­ity are in­di­vid­ual or fam­ily mem­bers who pay $150 a year, but for those who want to give a lit­tle more, the As­so­ci­a­tion also of­fers tiered mem­ber­ships. A Bronze mem­ber­ship is $500 a year, Sil­ver is $750 and a Gold mem­ber­ship is $1,000. These higher-level mem­ber­ships pro­vide all ac­cess passes to ed­u­ca­tional clin­ics of­fered by the Tel­luride Nordic Cen­ter.

The tiered-mem­ber­ship struc­ture was of­fered “to en­cour­age higher level con­tri­bu­tions for those who can af­ford it,” says Bill de Alva, board trea­surer. “If it weren't for those high-level con­tri­bu­tions, there's no way we could do ev­ery­thing that we do and pro­vide the qual­ity of groomed trails that we do,” says de Alva.

Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion grooms ap­prox­i­mately 10 kilo­me­tres of trails at Priest Lake and an­other 12 kilo­me­tres of trails at Trout Lake. De Alva says the Priest Lake trails are the most in­ter­est­ing in the re­gion. With a good mix of be­gin­ner to ad­vanced trails and many in­ter­sec­tions that force skiers to double back on some con­nec­tors to ski the en­tire sys­tem, the 10 kilo­me­tres of trails feel more like 12 kilo­me­tres. “There are no big long straight­aways, so it keeps your at­ten­tion go­ing all the time,” says de Alva. Trout Lake also has an in­ter­est­ing net­work of trails. Lo­cated at a higher el­e­va­tion than Priest Lake, the Trout Lake trails are the first to open in Novem­ber and still have snow in May, of­ten­times into early June.

Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion has been in­stru­men­tal in en­sur­ing the ex­is­tence of these groomed trails in the re­gion. One trail sys­tem it is par­tic­u­larly proud of is the Val­ley Floor, an area com­prised of 15 kilo­me­tres of groomed trails ad­ja­cent to the town of Tel­luride.

Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion also hosts the Butch Cas­sidy Ski Chase, a Nordic equip­ment swap and pro­vides lessons, clin­ics, tours, rentals and youth pro­grams through the Nordic Cen­ter in Town Park.

Since the area of Tel­luride at­tracts many vis­it­ing skiers who don't al­ways pur­chase mem­ber­ships, the As­so­ci­a­tion has placed do­na­tion boxes at trail­heads and sug­gests a $15 do­na­tion for day use, though de Alva ad­mits trail­side do­na­tions are small in com­par­i­son to what is re­ceived through mem­ber­ships, demon­strat­ing the im­por­tance of con­sis­tent sup­port­ers to the re­gion's Nordic com­mu­nity.

Just the Facts

The Tel­luride Nordic As­so­ci­a­tion P.O. Box 1784, Tel­luride, CO, 81435 www.tel­luride­trails.org 970-728-1144

(above l-r) The an­nual Butch Cas­sidy Ski Chase; Groom­ing the 12km of trails at Trout Lake; Butch Cas­sidy kid's race

(top) Skate skier at Priest Lake that fea­tures some of the most in­ter­est­ing trails in the re­gion.

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