Could there be anything more peaceful than gliding along on your skis among towering pine trees with views of the Dillon Reservoir glistening in the sunlight and snow-capped mountains in the distance? While downhill skiing or snowboarding is all about getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, Nordic skiing is gaining in popularity for those looking for a change of pace. And there’s no better place to soak in the scenery than in the mountain town of Frisco, Colorado.
"Nordic skiing is not only fun, it’s great exercise too," says Linsey Joyce, Recreation Programs Manager for the Town of Frisco. “It’s a great alternative to downhill skiing or snowboarding. The Frisco Nordic Center offers solitude and breathtaking views.”
Located just a few minutes away from Main Street, the Frisco Nordic Center offers options for skiers of all ability levels. "The main goals of the Frisco Nordic Center are to be a community hub for cross country skiers," explains Joyce. “We aim to provide a variety of programs and events for our community while welcoming skiers of all ability levels.”
Whether you’re looking to take a break from a nearby resort or have been inspired by the recent Winter Games in Pyeongchang, now is a great time to try a new snow sport. Here’s everything you need to know about getting started at the Frisco Nordic Center.
Frisco’s Nordic scene is uniquely situated to make cross-country skiing accessible to all ages and abilities. Unlike most other Nordic centers, Frisco actually produces man-made snow, just as a downhill ski resort would. As a result, even in otherwise low-snow years, Frisco makes considerable effort to open a 2.5-kilometer loop to Nordic skiers.
"They already have the infrastructure there because of the tubing hill," explains Whitney Hedberg, director of the Summit Nordic Ski Club. “But [the ski trails] aren’t in one centrally located place, so they have to take front-loaders and physically move snow onto the trail—it’s a huge operation. The town has gotten behind it and is willing to do that. That’s what makes us stand out.”
The Summit Nordic Ski Club is a huge part of the Frisco Nordic Scene. The club is for kids as young as six on up through post-high schoolers and uses the Frisco Nordic trails. (They also compete nationally under the direction of head coach Olof Hedberg.) In addition to the youngsters, you’ll see plenty of hardened locals hitting up the trails even on the chilliest mornings—these folks are dedicated.
"The Frisco Nordic Center offers beginner ski terrain right out our back door, creating a welcoming experience for anyone who is new to the sport," says Joyce. “I would highly recommend taking a ski lesson if you really want to learn tips and technique that will create a positive experience for you.”
Luckily, the Frisco Nordic Center offers budget-friendly lessons for new skiers, along with regular clinics and events for those looking to improve their skiing. There’s at least one block of lessons every weekday during the season (two blocks a day on busier weekends), so a knowledgeable staff member will give you the tools to have a great time on your first outing.
"A lesson will make the difference between it being a one-time thing and something you come back to," Hedberg adds.
Once you’ve gotten yourself ready for a day on skis—dress more like you’re going for a run in cold, wet weather than like you’re downhill skiing, since you’ll work up a sweat—it’s time to decide what kind of skis work best for you.
Cross-country skiing encompasses both classic and skate skiing. Classic skiers have slightly wider skis, often with a fish scale pattern on the bottom to help with kick and glide. These are the folks you’ll see in the classic track, which are the two parallel lines on any groomed cross-country trail. It’ll take some time to develop a solid technique, but this is a great way to take in the sights and, if you’re eventually so inclined, explore more backcountry trails.
Then there’s skate skiing, classic’s speedier cousin. Skate skiers are the Olympians you see double-poling and getting a serious upper-body workout on the groomed track. It’s a fantastic full-body exercise and definitely requires some fitness to get the hang of.
Fortunately, the Frisco Nordic Center rents both types of skis.
The Frisco Nordic Center boasts 27 kilometers of ski trails. They start making snow as early as November, so even in the early season, you’ll have the 2.5-kilometer loop near the Nordic Center to ski.
Those 27 kilometers include beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails, which are marked like an alpine ski area (green circle for beginner, blue square for intermediate, and one or two black diamonds for advanced and expert trails). On intermediate and advanced trails, you won’t find cliffs or moguls as you would at a downhill resort—more like steeper or more sustained ups and downs and sharper turns. Keep an eye out for one-way signs, too.
Before you head out onto any of the trails, check out the Frisco Nordic Center’s Trail Conditions page.
Day passes for the Frisco Nordic Center are $20 per day for adults. If you’ll be hitting the trails ten or more times this season, invest in a season pass or, better yet, pick up a season pass that includes the Breckenridge and Gold Run Nordic Centers. Frisco Nordic also offers discounts for residents and families. Rentals at Frisco Nordic Center are $20 per day for skate or classic setups and include skis, boots, and poles.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated in partnership with Town of Frisco and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image provided by Joe Kusumoto/Town of Frisco