By Brett Larsen
Salt Lake City”s winning bid for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games has brought more to Utah than massive I-15 reconstruction. It has placed a world class Nordic skiing facility within 30 minutes” drive of BYU.
The Nordic Park at Soldier Hollow is snuggled among the foothills of Mt. Timpanogos, only six miles southwest of Heber City. Its rounded slopes and broad, groomed tracks make it an ideal location for cross country skiing.
“Lots of people…say it”s one of the best courses in the world, and definitely in the nation,” said Weston Mcskie, the director of youth programs at the park.
The Nordic Park will serve as a venue for the cross country, biathlon and nordic combined competitions during the 2002 Winter Games. Since its trails were completed in November 1999, it has been reserved as a training facility for professional athletes.
On Dec. 16, 2000, the park opened its slopes to the public, providing group lessons, ski rentals and access to its 23 kilometers of trails.
Since then, more than 1,000 kids ages 6-19 have participated in the park”s youth ski school program, with an additional 4,000 expected to take part before winter”send, Mcskie said.
Building enthusiasm for cross country skiing, particularly among young people, is one of the main goals of the Nordic Park, said Dave Jarrett, a former member of the U.S. ski team and two-time Olympian. He also coaches the Soldier Hollow Nordic Ski Team.
“I”m excited,” Jarrett said, referring to the success of the ski school. “There”s a lot of potential. I”m hoping there”s going to be a good response, and so far it”s been great.”
For those who wish to try their hand at cross country skiing on their own, full day passes are $15 for adults and $9 for kids ages 12-17. Children under 12 can ski for free.