South Shore residents should get their cross-country gear out of the closet - there's a new ski center in town.
The Lake Tahoe Community College Nordic Club plans to open groomed Nordic trails on campus by early February. A $29 individual season pass will offer unlimited use of about 7 kilometers of terrain for both skate and classic skiers.
"The other communities around the lake have established community skate centers. A Nordic course enhances our alpine-town visibility. I think if we show an excellent model here, perhaps there's the chance we could groom on forest service or city land," Tyler Cannon, owner of Sprouts Natural Foods Cafe, said.
Most people buy grooming equipment after finding a course to groom. Cannon did the opposite. The South Shore native purchased the equipment from Spooner Lake Cross-Country Ski Area after the center closed its doors last year for the first time in almost three decades. Cannon figured he could find a place in South Lake Tahoe were he could use the machines.
That hunch became a reality last week when the LTCC board of trustees approved the formation of the Nordic club. The college's CONNECT Community Education program will run the center and the pass registration.
"My program here at the college is all about community outreach. So this is a perfect fit. It's been so positively received. And because the college owns the land, it's been pretty seamless," Community Education Coordinator Megan Waskiewicz said.
South Tahoe Middle School Athletic Director Karin Holmes hopes to see students training and learning at the new course this season. The school's Nordic team currently practices on a hill near Heavenly Mountain Resort, so use of groomed trails would be a big improvement, Holmes said.
"We can use them for our P.E. days and the cross-country ski team could use those trails, too. It would be perfect. I think it's a great thing for our community and our schools," she said.
Waskiewicz and Cannon are looking for volunteers to help them run and maintain the trails for this inaugural season. The goal is to use membership fees to cover the center's operating costs and eventually offer on-site lessons and rentals, Cannon said.
Skiers will be able to access the trails from five entry points around the college --Ledbetter Terrace, the trailhead between Ross and the post office; Black Bart, behind the LTCC sports field; and the bike path at College Drive. Passes can be purchased at http://tinyurl.com/av66yef.