Friday, December 4, 2020

Crested Butte Nordic preparing for busy season

Fingers are crossed

[ by Mark Reaman ]

Last spring when Crested Butte Mountain Resort was shut down due to coronavirus restrictions, Crested Butte Nordic stepped up and continued to groom its trails and assist people who wanted to get outdoors. It appears that effort is paying off in the new season, as Crested Butte Nordic has seen an increase in season pass sales of more than 30 percent over 2019.

In the annual update to the Crested Butte Town Council, Crested Butte Nordic officials told the council they feel optimistic about the upcoming season. Programs will be modified to comply with public health orders and group sizes will be restricted, but executive director Christie Hicks said there is a lot of interest from people to get outdoors this winter and use their skinny skis.

“We showed up for the community last spring and they are showing up for us this fall,” Hicks said. “We are committed and want to be open every day this season.”

So far, more than 950 season passes have been sold compared to the expected 750 or so sold at the same time in previous years. The passes give a skier or snowshoer access to 50 kilometers of groomed trails around Crested Butte.

“Our early-bird season pass sale revenue was up over 30 percent from the previous highest year,” Hicks explained. “Early-bird prices are available in September and October. It is nutty to be close to having 1,000 season passes sold already.”

Hicks said people will not be allowed inside the Nordic Center this winter but there will be staff manning the phones and working a window at the facility. Online reservations will be available for rentals and new protocols like curbside pickup will be in place to meet COVID-19 restrictions.

The organization depends on events for much of its revenue and, while there is concern that COVID regulations will limit participants, the hope is to find workarounds. Hicks said the traditional Thanksgiving Camp that had more than 100 participants last year will be comprised of clinics only this year and will be limited to 50 participants under new county health restrictions.

While last year’s Alley Loop was the largest one ever with more than 850 participants, the 2021 edition will be a two-day format on a simplified course. The Gothic Mountain Tour that sold out last year should be good to go again this season with staggered starts, and while the Winter Grand Traverse is still up in the air, the hope is to coordinate the spring event that starts in Crested Butte and ends in Aspen.

“With the Winter GT we have our fingers crossed and hope the stars align so we can pull it and all our events off. We were able to pull off a successful Summer GT, so we are hopeful to pull off our winter races using similar modifications and protocols. We are worried about capacity limitations this year and we are worried about events, given they are such a big part of the budget but we hope that being focused on the outdoors, we can work around some of the hurdles,” Hicks said. “There are still a lot of unknowns with things like our Yurt dinners and how much visitor demand we will have.”

Hicks emphasized that the number one goal was to keep ski and ice skate rentals along with the trails open all season long while keeping people safe.

Crested Butte Nordic will officially open Saturday, November 14, for service and rentals. Trails will open as conditions permit.

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