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Skiing

Competitive Slides and Glides

A roundup of ski and snowboard events around the Flathead Valley slopes and trails 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

Whitefish Mountain Resort

Tommy Moe Kids Race League

Sunday mornings are dedicated to low-key, non-intimidating races aimed at young competitors (ages 5-12). There are no speed suits allowed, stubby gates are used and parents are highly encouraged to cheer from the sidelines. Any kids who receive any race-related coaching or instruction will be in a separate division from kids who have never received coaching. The series kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 28, with two more weeks of ski racing to come on Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. The courses are all Giant Slalom courses, with the final day featuring a costume contest as well.

Wednesday Night Skimo Race League

There’s just one week left in the ski mountaineering (skimo) Wednesday Night Race League, on Jan. 31. In this low-key affair, racers skin up the course and ski down, choosing whether to ski one, two or three laps based on ability. All distances begin at 6:20 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. Post-race socializing at the Bierstube is highly encouraged.  

Biggie Banks Slalom Series

This entry-level banked slalom/boarder 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 hand-built banked 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, Jan. 27; Saturday, March 2; and Saturday, March 11.

Mike Foote, left, and Adam Campbell skin towards the top of Big Mountain during the Whitefish Whiteout at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Jan. 16, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Whitefish Whiteout

Ski mountaineering junkies can get their fix at the pinnacle Skimo event of the year on Feb. 10. 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. Not up for hauling yourself up the slopes? Sign up to be a volunteer!

President’s Park — Rail Jam and Slopestyle

The President’s Day holiday weekend in February 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 U.S. Snowboard and Freeski Association-sanctioned event will include three separate Rail Jam 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. 

25th Annual Nate Chute 

The Nate Chute Classic, returning March 16-17, 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.

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 slopestyle event is the best, and likely last, chance for skiers and boarders to throw down their best tricks. The March 30 competition will have three different ability categories for men and women, skiers and snowboarders.

Pond Skim

End the season with a splash at the Whitefish Mountain Resort pond skim! Costumes are mandatory for competitors who wish to try their hand at skiing or snowboarding over a custom-built pond. This spectator-friendly event is fun for the whole family, but remember, no throwing snowballs!

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

Scenes from Whitefish Mountain Resort’s 16th annual pond skim on April 8, 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. 

Opportunities for both classic and skate skiing aficionados of all abilities to compete will take place every Tuesday through Feb. 13, put on by the Glacier Nordic Club (GNC). 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 skate and classic races starting at Grouse Mountain Lodge on Feb. 4. Each event will be subdivided into sections of 25 racers for safety, and racers are encouraged to dress up in a costume. This year there will be also be a team relay fundraiser for GNC scholarships. Teams of up to five can join together to see how many laps they can complete in two hours. There will also be a youth ski obstacle course, kids ski games, an orienteering course as well as food a drink.

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

The Nordic Club will host a free full moon ski on Jan. 25th and Feb. 24 on the lit cross country trails. Free skiing starts at 5 p.m., along with half-price rental rates.

Want to go longer? Montana’s premier skiing sufferfest, the 41st OSCR (Over Seeley’s Creeks and Ridges), will take place on Jan. 27. OSCR is a 50-kilometer race on the Seeley Creek trails that utilizes extensive Forest Service roads in the area to extend the loop. There is also a 20k freestyle race with a classic option. 

On Feb. 4 the Winslow Nichols Community Ski and Race will take place at Meadow Lake Golf Course in Columbia Falls.

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

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