Ski Like a Pro: Nordic Races Around the West

4 not-to-miss high country races

If you ski, this is a good time of year to feel like a pro. And if you are a Nordic skier, that’s cross-country skiing, you’re in luck because races take place across the mountain west.

February 1
Crested Butte, Colorado

This will be a good weekend to be in Crested Butte. You can participate in this Nordic race and then indulge at Colorado CRAFTED, a laid-back aprés ski event that includes wine, beer and spirits tasting and food by local chefs.

Photo by Nathan Bilow

The Alley Loop is heading into its 34th year. It is unlike other Nordic races in that the first part of the track winds through downtown Crested Butte. Don your costume and ski by colorful homes and businesses as you make your way through alleyways and over bridges. Once you’ve finished with that and been cheered on by locals in the streets, you’ll find yourself on the Crested Butte Nordic trail network. There are more than 900 registrants this year so you’ll have plenty of people to cheer for if you don’t compete.


February 1
Ketchum, Idaho

Also taking place on Feb. 1, but farther northwest, take part in the 34-mile Boulder Mountain Tour. This is a world-class race in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It takes 350 volunteers to get this race underway.

Photo by Nils Ribi

This race isn’t for the unfit or beginners. It starts at 7,400 feet above sea level and despite some early climbing, finishes at 6,250 feet. There are 200 kilometers of groomed trails in the North Valley so even if you don’t compete, there’s plenty of skiing to do.


March 1
Tahoe City to Truckee

An annual fundraiser for the Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue Team, The Great Ski Race welcomes over a thousand racers to the area. It is one of the largest Nordic ski races west of the Mississippi and offers amazing views for participants. 

Photo courtesy of The Great Ski Race

The start involves six waves of seeded skiers with about 200 women and men in each starting group. The course is 30 kilometers or 18.43 miles long. It starts at Lake Tahoe, crosses over Starratt Pass and moves into Truckee via a downhill run. Squaw Valley and Sierra Crest can be seen from the top of the course.


May 24
Bellingham, Washington

Put a team together and hit the slopes, pavement, and Bellingham Bay during this multi-discipline race that embraces everything from Nordic skiing to kayaking.

Photo courtesy of Visit Bellingham

Starting at Mount Baker in the Cascade Mountains west of Bellingham, Ski to Sea starts with a four-mile cross-country ski before this team member passes the baton to the downhill skier/snowboarder. This involves a bit of uphill hiking in ski boots so be prepared. 

Photo courtesy of Visit Bellingham

The next legs are running, road biking, canoing, cyclocross biking and sea kayaking. The finish line is in Bellingham’s Fairhaven District. Here, a party awaits participants as it seems the entire town comes out to celebrate the end of the Washington winter.

Categories: The Heidi Guide