Sandpoint youth cross-country skiers endure tough weather

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(Photo courtesy of VICKI LONGHINI) Coach Rebecca Dussault and her advanced cross-country ski group pose on one of the trails.

This winter seems to be a rollercoaster of snow followed by rain, and while this weather pattern doesn’t set up for the best cross-country skiing in town, Sandpoint kids who want to do so seem to find a way.

For most of last winter, conditions were ideal for cross-country skiing and a record number of kids join the Sandpoint Nordic Club’s (SNC) youth cross-country ski program.

This winter’s rain and warmer temperatures in the forecast seemed to hint at a lower turnout, but local kids who want to ski haven’t seemed to mind the weather forecast.

Instead, recreation and race development team numbers were right on par with last winter’s. Return skiiers make up the most of the group, yet each year, around 30 percent of the group consists of kids who are putting on cross-country skis for the first time. Naturally, the first few sessions can be challenging, but by the third week, all workers see on the trails are smiles.

The Sandpoint Nordic Youth Ski Team (SNST) has a recreation program that meets up to two times a week, while the race development program trains four times a week and competes in several area races. Kids either learn how to classic ski or skate ski.

Practices are usually run at the Sandpoint Nordic Club trails on the University of Idaho property on Boyer Ave. When the snow doesn’t cooperate, recreation skiers up to the roundabout, off Schweitzer Mountain Road. Schweitzer grooms this short, beginner-friendly trail three times a week. The race team frequently trains on the Schweitzer Nordic trails, but those trails are too advanced for most new skiers.

But next season, the group hopes to move up to the Pine Street Woods, which is being purchased by Kaniksu Land Trust. These trails are at ahigher elevation, but are still close to town.

For more information on the SNST programs and the Sandpoint Nordic Club, visit www.sandpointnordic.com.

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