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Celebrating the Sport of Nordic Skiing
Nordic club in Whitefish holds its annual Glacier Glide Freestyle Ski Race
Glacier Glide nordic ski race. | Courtesy photo
Come winter, the once green landscape of open fairways at Whitefish Lake Golf Course experiences a metamorphosis. The multitude of trees is laid bare, uncovering a sweeping skylight, and pillows of snow blanket the countryside, creating a labyrinth that invites exploration. This annual alchemy evokes passion among devotees of another sport besides golf.

Nordic skiing has a rich history in this winter-sports mecca of Northwest Montana, and that lineage can be largely traced to the system of trails that meander south of Whitefish Lake, atop the snow-covered golf course.

For decades, the Glacier Nordic Club has maintained groomed trails for all ages and skill levels of skiers at its Nordic center located at the golf course off U.S. Highway 93 outside of Whitefish. Together, there are more than 11 miles of trail on the north and south sides of the highway.

This weekend the club is celebrating the sport and its storied tradition in the valley with the annual Glacier Glide Nordic Freestyle Ski Race. The event has taken place for more than 30 years and embodies the Nordic club’s mission, “the lifelong love of cross country skiing,” according to Robin Brooks, an event organizer and the club’s new administrator of the Glacier Nordic Ski Team and Junior Jets program.

“We get skiers from across the board. The main goal is just the fun and giving this to the community to get everyone together,” Brooks said.

The Glacier Glide Nordic Freestyle Ski Race is Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Nordic Center. The event features five separate races of varying lengths: cookie (shorter than 1 kilometer, or roughly half a mile); 1K (0.62 miles); 4K (2.48 miles); 9K (5.59 miles) and 18K (11.18 miles).

Registration begins at 9 a.m. for the adult races. The 9K and 18K races launch at 10:30 a.m. At 10:45 a.m., registration opens for the shorter races, which kick off at noon. Except for a few minor tweaks, the course is similar to last year’s event, which drew roughly 50 participants, according to Brooks. After the races, an awards ceremony and chili feed will be held inside the Whitefish Lake Restaurant.

“It’s such a fun event. This is the opportunity for us to be at home and especially for all the kids to compete and just show everyone what they’re learning,” she said.

Participants in the Glacier Glide. | Courtesy photo

Brooks joined the Nordic club after discovering Whitefish during her 16,184-mile bicycle tour of North America in 2010. She arrived just as the club was searching for a head coach after Cameron Blake moved to Bozeman to support her son, Connor Gray, who is competing well in junior Nordic racing. Brooks accepted the new role three years ago and planted herself in Whitefish. She has skied since she was 2 years old and her family remains passionate about the sport. Brooks’ sister Holly recently earned a spot on the American Nordic ski team for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

This winter she took over operating the Glacier Glide, and she’s excited to help carry on the event and club’s long tradition.

“I love having all the community together,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see and everyone is supportive.”

For more information about the Glacier Glide and the Glacier Nordic Club, visit www.glaciernordicclub.com.
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