Members of the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club are on a mission to help others get out and enjoy the winter wonderland around them.
To achieve this, the club is offering free cross-country skiing lessons this Saturday to all those who want to try their hand at this sport as well as to those who want to take it up a notch.
And on Wednesday nights this winter, people looking for someone to ski past the sunset can join a new fitness-focused ski group meeting at various Bitterroot ski locations.
Club vice-chairman Jesse Crocker said the hope is that both opportunities will open new doors for people to come out and recreate.
“The snow is looking pretty good right now,” Crocker said. “In early December it didn’t look like winter was coming, then suddenly we had 2ft at Lake Como and over 4ft at Chief Joseph.”
In the past, Crocker said the club offered more lessons, but that has dropped off a bit since the start of COVID.
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“We are now trying to start doing more public lessons to both build community in the club and generally allow club members to share their skills with others,” he said.
The club offered its first free lesson last Saturday. About twenty skiers of all levels came to try the experience.
Another class session of one to two hours will be offered this Saturday, January 29 at 10 a.m. The lessons are free for all those who show up with skis in their hands.
“It’s open to people of all skill levels,” Crocker said. “Some of our instructors are current or former ski racers. We are ready to work with people from beginner level all the way to advanced techniques and racing.
Lessons include classic cross-country skiing and skating.
Skis can be rented from Valley Bike and Ski, Bob Wards in Hamilton and Lost Trail Ski Resort.
Crocker said the Wednesday night event is an outreach effort by the club to connect skiers looking for a chance to break up their weeks with a bit of moonlit gliding.
“A lot of ski club members and community members want to ski with other people and don’t necessarily want to go alone at night,” Crocker said. “There are a lot of people who want to exercise, but don’t necessarily want to go out alone after dark to do it.”
Crocker said the Wednesday night event would be for fitness-focused people.
The focus will be on skiing in areas within half an hour of Hamilton including Lake Como, Skalkaho and Lost Horse. Crocker expects most skiers to skate rather than classic cross-country skiing.
“Almost all the skiing will be out and back,” he said. “If people show up who are skiing a bit slower, they may be left behind, but they will be picked up on the way back.”
Most evening skis will last between one and two hours. They start at 6 p.m.
Anyone interested can sign up to be included in a mailing list. Those on the list will receive an email on Tuesday with information on where the skiing will be on Wednesday.
Registration and more lesson information can be found on the Bitterroot Cross-Country Ski Club website, bitterrootxcskiclub.net/ or on their Facebook page.