You know it's the Christmas Holiday week in Park City when it takes an hour and a half to get a bagel and coffee at the local joint. I'm not complaining, this is what fuels the mountain town economy and keeps the lifts running for the rest of the season. As locals, we like to think of them as "our" mountains, and most of the time, we get to have our way with Utah's great snow, and maybe even take it for granted. But still, an hour and a half to get a bagel and a coffee on the way to the mountain gets me balled up. Lately I've been following some sage advice (author unknown): if you can't beat the crowds, then join them, and if you can't handle joining the crowds, then avoid them altogether. This is when I bust out the nordic skis, and spend some time burning calories at a few of Utah's excellent nordic skiing venues.
White Pine Touring, in Park City, is one of those gems. The center of operations is located on the Park City Municipal golf course, with a full-service nordic center that offers gear rentals and instruction for all nordic techniques including classic, skating, touring, and even snowshoeing. The shop is located in the back of the Hotel Park City, backing out to a well-maintained 5 kilometer loop with easy to moderate terrain. Easy because just about any skill level can make it around the loop with some effort. Moderate because the gently rolling hills can be torture if you are trying to maintain the pace of some of the elite level nordic competitors who may happen to be training that day. The folks at White Pine can also take care of tuning your gear to match the conditions, and if you are still trying to figure out how to skate on 90's era equipment, you might want to check out their retail selection of current gear. Instant gratification when you step into a modern set-up and feel your skating technique improve.
Ski Utah Gold and Silver Passes are valid at White Pine. Not many people know this. I didn't, until just this year. They are also valid for day passes at Sundance, Solitude, and Brian Head nordic centers. If you don't have one of these mythical go-anywhere-you-want-anytime-you-want magic passes, day passes at nordic resorts are pretty reasonable; $18 for a full-day at White Pine for adults, $10 after 3 PM. Add on extra if you need gear and a lesson. The variety of nordic skiing in Utah is almost as diverse as the variety of alpine terrain, which often makes the choice of where to ski difficult for me, except during the peak times in my hometown, where escaping the hustle and bustle of the holiday crowds is as simple as skating or classic skiing for a few hours at White Pine.
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