For anyone that has discovered the rhythm of a perfect cross-country ski glide, especially one that takes you further into a snow-laden wilderness, you know how much satisfaction can come from Nordic skiing.
To find some of that satisfaction yourself, check out any one of the large-scale Nordic races happening across the country this winter. Skate or Classic, whatever style you choose, these events provide the ideal environment to practice your skills, and serve as a perfect meeting ground for the cross-country skiing community that makes the sport so special. From the American Birkebeiner in Wisconsin to the Methow Valley Pursuit of Washington, with a little help from these exciting cross-country skiing events happening all season, you can happily glide through the winter. For more information on the following events and more, be sure to check out the American Ski Marathon Series hosted by the American Cross Country Skiers (ACXS)
Methow Valley Pursuit, Winthrop, Washington—January 20th-21st
Backdropped by the rugged peaks of the North Cascade Mountains, the town of Winthrop and the nearby Methow Valley really comes to life in the winter. Featuring some of the best snow-laden terrain you’ll ever ski through, for the cross-country enthusiast, the two-day Methow Valley Pursuit takes you through it all. As part of the larger Methow Valley Nordic Festival, which includes smaller races and a free-to-enjoy 10K, the Methow Valley Pursuit covers 60 kilometers in two consecutive days, drawing in hundreds of athletes every year to this winter wonderland.
City of Lakes Loppet, Minneapolis, Minnesota—January 27th-February 4th
Serving as a larger celebration for winter in the Twin Cities, the City of Lakes Loppet features a 42-km Ski Marathon and a 21-km Half-Marathon as the centerpiece for all the action. Classic and Freestyle skaters are both able to enter, and everyone is encouraged to check out the snow sculptures, Kubb tournaments and Surly beer garden as part of the festival. The actual Loppet itself takes skiers through the beautiful trails that wind through the natural spaces, lakes and frozen landscapes found within the twin cities. Whether you go to race or to find some good cheer against the dropping temperatures, the City of Lakes Loppet gives winter the adventurous tone it deserves.
Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, Crested Butte, Colorado—February 3rd
Winding through the back alleyways and snow covered streets of Crested Butte, the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon isn’t your average ski race. Beginning and ending on Main Street in the prosperous mountain town of Crested Butte, the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon makes its way through downtown, crossing bridges, narrow alleys and a huge gathering of festive and costumed spectators to cheer you on. Once racers are off the streets and onto the outskirts the town, a large chunk of this 42-km race is then backdropped by epic Rocky Mountain views to effectively cheer you on.
The North American Vasa, Traverse City, Michigan—February 10th-11th
Located just west of Traverse City in Northern Michigan, the North American Vasa takes place in the luscious Traverse City State Forest, and provides a community-driven day to explore the famous Vasa Pathway. Featuring races ranging from six-km family events to 51-km freestyle races, as well as long-distance Fat Tire Races, the North American Vasa has appeal for all abilities of winter enthusiasts. Whatever distance you decide to go, and even if you’re just a spectator on the sidelines, the white pines and dense forests of northern Michigan provide a true winter wonderland to enjoy.
Lake Placid Loppet, Lake Placid, New York—February 24th
Located at the site of the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, the Lake Placid Loppet offers recreational and professional racers one of the most challenging courses they’ll find in the eastern U.S. Thankfully, racers participating in either the 50-km or 25-km Loppets are spurred on by the stunning New England scenery in the cloak of winter. A premier event for this region, the Lake Placid Loppet has been doing its thing for more than 30 years. After the race, all participants gain entry to the Celebration BBQ & Awards event, ensuring every racer ends on a high note.
The American Birkebeiner, Cable, Wisconsin—February 24th
Stretching for 50 kilometers from Hayward, Wisconsin, to Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner is North America’s largest cross-country ski marathon, and one of the premiere events of the entire winter season. Tens of thousands of skiers line up to tackle the Birkie each year, and while not all of them make it to the finishline, everyone has good reason to celebrate. Serving more as an enthusiastic ode to winter, the week surrounding this legendary event is filled with snow-inspired events including the Barkie Birkie Skijor for the canines and the Barnebirkie for the smallest racers.
Yellowstone Rendezvous, West Yellowstone, Wyoming—March 3rd
Located in the town of West Yellowstone, which serves as a gateway community into Yellowstone National Park, the Yellowstone Rendezvous brings together all types of skiers for a variety of events and races. Whether it’s your first time in the area or you’re a long-time resident, skiers have the choice between six races ranging from a 2K to a 50K at the Yellowstone Rendezvous. Occurring near the end of the ski year, the Yellowstone Rendezvous can really put a good cap onto the season, and with such proximity to the National Park, it provides an easy outlet for even more adventure.
Tour of Anchorage, Anchorage Alaska—March 4th
While some cross-country ski destinations might face dwindling snow conditions come March, Anchorage doesn’t have to worry about that. To truly experience this snow-laden southern part of Alaska, the Tour of Anchorage can point you in a few good directions. Featuring four different racing categories, including 25k, 40k and 50k freestyle events, the Tour of Anchorage lends big views of Mount McKinley, proximity to the Pacific Ocean and a variety of trails that line and define the city of Anchorage. After exploring all that Anchorage has to offer via skis, participants are encouraged with a free beer to stay for the after party.