More skiers and even some more alley time
By Than Acuff
In case you hadn’t heard, Crested Butte Nordic is preparing for one of the premier Nordic events in the nation, the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon presented by Fischer Skis, Crested Butte Nordic and Coldwell Banker, on Saturday, February 3.
The Alley Loop is the third largest Nordic ski race in the country, after the American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin and the Mora Vasaloppet in Mora, Minnesota. This year is even bigger than last with as many as 1,200 racers expected in everything from the 1.5-kilometer freestyle race all the way up to the full 42-kilometer marathon races as well as a Sit Ski race. Not only that, but as many as 75% of the field is coming from outside of the Gunnison Valley, including Olympic gold medalist Nordic racer Kikkan Randall.
The Alley Loop has the capacity to mix fun with plenty of healthy competition and that tone is set by the course itself as the course winds through the alleys of town as well as incorporating wide open stretches of manicured Nordic track outside of town. And while some stretches of alleys were cut out the past couple of years, some have been added to the course this year keeping the true Alley Loop spirit well intact.
The weekend kicks off with “Try-It” Biathlon Event sponsored by Fischer Skis and US Biathlon on Friday, February 2 from 3:30–5:30 p.m. on the 00 block of Elk Avenue. Come demo a pair of Fischer skate skis and learn to shoot an infrared rifle (no live bullets).
The racing then starts bright and early in downtown Crested Butte in front of the post office at 9 a.m. with races starting from the same spot until 1:10 p.m. The finish line is right back in the same area for all of the races and there’s great viewing at the corner of Fourth Street and Sopris Avenue as well as First Street and Elk Avenue, but please stay clear of the participants and mind the racecourse marshals.
Saturday wraps up with a premier of the movie Kikkan. The film chronicles the life of the five-time Olympian Kikkan Randall from childhood through her U.S. ski career to her return to Alaska.
If you haven’t had enough of Nordic racing, it continues Sunday morning with the USCSA Collegiate Race from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
All information about all things Alley Loop can be found at cbnordic.org.