TELLURIDE – This winter, hearty early season snowfall won’t be the only thing the Telluride Nordic Association is hungering for.
The Nordic Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting Nordic skiing in the region through its maintenance of local trails, has had to shift its attentions from waiting for winter’s dusting of white, to wondering where it will get its green. The nation’s economic downturn has reduced TNA’s expected grant funding by as much as 35 percent, and in so doing has forced the organization to prioritize maintenance of its Nordic trails this winter.
TNA Director Lary Simpson said that although TNA’s funding proposals were met with tremendous support by the Telluride Town Council, the town will be unable to assist the organization with its operations this winter due to lack of funds. “They love what we’re doing,” Simpson said, “but they simply don’t have the money.”
While news that a lack of grant monies will force TNA to cut spending on trail maintenance this winter may seem like an especially heartbreaking reminder of the national economy’s sorry state of affairs, there is a silver lining. TNA will focus its efforts on the Valley Floor trail system this winter, adding 10 new kilometers to the local’s favorite Nordic haunt.
“There’s going to be a lot more skiing at even better quality,” Simpson said of the Valley Floor trail, esteemed by many as the most precious jewel in local Nordic skiers’ treasure box. Plans for this winter’s Valley Floor Nordic trail include a new trailhead at Lawson Hill, offering access from the west, as well as a handful of temporary bridges spanning the San Miguel River.
TNA’s Pisten Bully groomer will be assigned to the Valley Floor almost exclusively, ensuring that the level of quality local skiers have come to expect there will be upheld.
Yet regular maintenance of the Priest Lake and Trout Lake trails may prove to be another story.
Simpson said that Priest Lake will become TNA’s second priority for maintenance, assigning snowmobile groomers to maintain that area throughout the winter. Trout Lake will be the organization’s third priority, where snowmobile grooming is likely to take place only sporadically.
Simpson explained that the prioritization of maintenance of these local trails was determined by looking at which trails see the most winter use, and which are easiest to maintain. Although Trout Lake offers the best location for early and late season Nordic skiing, thanks to its typically abundant snow levels, the Trout Lake trail is the most challenging to maintain and will thus be relegated to TNA’s last grooming concern.
Simpson stressed that if TNA is able to come up with the funds necessary to maintain all three areas at their pre-recession levels, the organization will certainly do so; but that’s not likely to be the case, he emphasized.
Future funding for TNA may come in the form the payment of a trail fee to ski on the Valley Floor, Simpson said, but details for such a program will not be determined until the town develops the Valley Floor Management Plan, slated for completion in the spring.
TNA will continue to offer its Telluride Nordic Challenge Series races this winter; the first race is scheduled for Dec. 13. The Wilson Loop Sprint will be a 1k sprint race for both classic and skate skiers.
Other races in the winter series include the Priest Lake Pursuit, a 15k pursuit race highlighting 7.5 kilometers of skate skiing and 7.5 kilometers of classic skiing, on Jan. 24; the 15k classic Butch Cassidy Chase on Feb. 21; and the Topaten classic and skate 10k race on March 14.
Local Nordic skiers will be able to gear up for the winter at next week’s Nordic Swap, held in conjunction with KOTO’s annual Ski Swap on Saturday, Nov. 15. The Nordic Swap will be held in the Library’s Program Room, with proceeds to benefit TNA. Season TNA memberships are vital for helping fund the organization’s operations; look for the TNA table at the Nordic Swap, where you can sign up for your new winter membership, or visit www.telluridetrails.org.
The winter-long Nordic training series will also continue this winter; more information will be available at the Nordic Swap next week.