Nordic ski tradition attracts young racers

It’s no surprise to Ron Thoreson that Nordic skiing means more than clicking into the boards and heading out into the backcountry.

As Thoreson loves to remind this corner every winter about this time, cross-country skiing has a rich cultural and social history with roots in Norway and Scandinavia.

Thoreson is sports director for the Vestafjell Lodge and District 6 of the Sons of Norway, and on Saturday the Lodge hosts its 13th annual “BarnelØpet,” which Thoreson describes as a Norwegian word meaning “the children’s race.”

“We hold these races in cooperation with other winter enthusiasts of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council,” Thoreson said in a recent email.

The casual races at the Skyway Nordic trail head on Grand Mesa are for young skiers ages 3 to 16 and include one-, two-, and five-kilometer distances.

Thoreson said the day emphasizes fun, not competition, and offers young skiers the opportunity for free lessons and a chance to show off their skills.

“The kids, often with the input of parents, decide which course they would feel most comfortable racing on, given the day’s conditions and their own experience,” Thoreson wrote. “Then, after the eager, noisy, and exciting start, the kids race around their chosen courses as fast as they can to see how well they can ski this year.

“It’s all about friendly competition and fun, and in the end, everyone will be a winner!”

Skiers must supply their own lunch and equipment (an earlier offer for inexpensive rentals expired March 1), but hot drinks, snacks and plenty of encouragement are provided courtesy of Vestafjell Lodge and the Sons of Norway.

Registration starts at 10 a.m. at the Skyway trail head, with free lessons and an instructional clinic at 11 and races at noon.

Vestafjell translates to “West of the Mountains,” and members of this culture-rich lodge come from communities across the Western Slope.

For more information, go to http://www.vestafjelllodge.org.


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