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Sports

Ready, Set, Slide!

Weekly snow sport competitions let everyone try their hand at skating, skiing and slaloming this winter

By Micah Drew
Eric Kanter races down the boardercross course at Whitefish Mountain Resort during the 16th annual Nate Chute Classic on March 22, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Events at Whitefish Mountain Resort 

Wednesday Night Skimo Race League 

The ski mountaineering (skimo) league, where racers skin up the course and ski down, takes place on Wednesdays in January and there’s one week left! Racers can choose to ski one, two or three laps based on ability, with all races beginning at 6 p.m., giving everyone the chance to make it up after work.

Racers are required to have skins, a helmet, headlamp and some basic wayfinding ability. 

Tommy Moe Kids League

For the younger competitors (ages 5-12), Sunday mornings are dedicated to low-key, non-intimidating races — there are no speed suits, stubby gates are used and parents are highly encouraged to cheer from the sidelines. The series kicked off on Sunday with three more weeks of ski racing to come (including one Saturday race on Jan. 28). The courses are all Giant Slalom courses, with the final day featuring a costume contest as well.

President’s Park — Rail Jam and Slopestyle

February’s holiday weekend provides the best opportunity for skiers and snowboarders to throw down their top tricks through the Whitefish terrain parks and channel their inner Maggie Voisin. The Rail Jam will have three separate sections each with a dedicated judge, while the slopestyle contest will offer two runs per competitor. Best run full of tricks wins! Following Saturday’s Rail Jam competition there will be a torchlight parade and fireworks show. 

The Whitefish Whiteout at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 16, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Whitefish Whiteout

Ski mountaineering junkies can get their fix in this race on Feb. 11. Competitors are required to skin and bootpack up and down a variety of terrain before descending challenging lines across the resort.

There will be separate categories for alpine touring skiers, telemark skiers and splitboarders, and competitors choose between a single ascent or short, medium and long course competitions, with a four-hour time limit to cater to a wide range of racing abilities.

24th Annual Nate Chute 

The Nate Chute Classic, returning March 18-19, is the second-longest running snowboard banked slalom in the U.S. and third-longest in North America, where racers compete for a $4,500 purse and entry into next year’s Mount Baker Legendary Banked Slalom.

More importantly, the two-day event is a “Contest for a Cause,” as it supports the Nate Chute Foundation, which focuses on suicide prevention and raising awareness among young people in Montana, a state that consistently ranks in the top five nationwide for suicide rates. The event is named after Nate Chute, a Whitefish local who took his own life after graduating from high school in 1999.

Biggie Banks Slalom Series

This entry-level banked slalom/cross race series, which started in 2019, is designed for a wide variety of ages and abilities, offering more manageable courses for beginners while still allowing more experienced riders and skiers to test their skills on some challenging lines. The two hand-built courses are shorter and less technical than those found during the Nate Chute events and are crafted using natural terrain features found in the forest stands along the Goat Haunt run on the resort’s backside.

Races are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4; Saturday, March. 4; and Saturday, March 11.

Corn Cup Slopestyle

As the weather warms up, the snow turns to slush but the terrain parks are fully built out and riders have their aerial skills dialed in! This late-season, April Fool’s Day slopestyle event is the best, and likely last, chance for skiers and boarders to throw down their best tricks. 

More information for all events, and links to register, can be found at https://skiwhitefish.com/events/.

Young racers take off from the starting line of the 3.5k Glacier Glide ski race in Whitefish on Jan. 7, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

For the horizontally inclined, there is no shortage of opportunities to spike your heart rate and kick, glide and skate laps with competitors. 

Following a successful edition of the 40th annual Glacier Glide race, the Glacier Nordic Club (GNC) kicked off its Tuesday night cross country relay race series, which takes place at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course. 

Opportunities for both classic and skate skiing aficionados of all abilities to compete will take place every Tuesday through Feb. 21. Races begin at 6:05 p.m. and distances and teams are adjusted by the organizers to accommodate most ages and ability levels. The cost to race is $10 for adults and $5 for juniors. 

Attached to the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival is the GNC Carnival Classic, a series of 1-, 4-, and 12-kilometer classic races starting at Grouse Mountain Lodge on Feb. 5. Each event will be subdivided into sections of 25 racers for safety, and racers are encouraged to dress up in a costume or in honor of the Carnival theme “Fire and Ice.”

The Nordic Club will host a free ski day at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course trails on Jan. 22, including free first-come-first-served classic ski lessons. There will also be a free full moon ski on February 5 on the lit cross country trails. 

Want to go longer? Montana’s premier skiing sufferfest, the 41st OSCR (Over Seeley’s Creeks and Ridges), will take place on Jan. 28. OSCR is a 50-kilometer race on the Seeley Creek trails that utilizes extensive forest service roads in the area. There is also a 20k freestyle race with a classic option. 

On Jan. 21, Seeley Lake Elementary will host the Skiesta, a series of short youth-focused races.  

More information can be found at https://www.glaciernordicclub.org/events-3/ and https://www.seeleylakenordic.org/

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