Cross-Country Ski Races to Help You Glide Through Winter

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.

cross country skiing

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.