Nordic nirvana: Strong winter has LTCC Nordic Center blossoming in South Lake Tahoe |

Nordic nirvana: Strong winter has LTCC Nordic Center blossoming in South Lake Tahoe

Anthony Gentile
Ryan and Carrie Galles skate with their dog along the course at the LTCC Nordic Center on Friday, Jan. 15. With snow on the ground, the center is fully operational — including stretches that offer stunning views of South Lake Tahoe’s surrounding mountains.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The Nordic Center at Lake Tahoe Community College opened in 2013. But until this winter, the course lacked an important element.

Now that snow is on the ground, the center is fully operational for the first time since its inception. The course, located in the hills and meadow behind LTCC, represents the return of cross-country skiing to South Lake Tahoe — and it’s right in the middle of town.

“It’s been amazing to have a good winter,” said Tyler Cannon, who runs the center as a volunteer. “This the first year where we’ve really had the snow to do it.”

Cannon owns Sprouts Natural Foods Cafe in South Lake Tahoe and volunteers countless hours of his time to groom and maintain the Nordic center. It was Cannon who first came up with the idea for the cross-country area, and snow has allowed the course to finally blossom.

“People have come out in droves and it’s been really cool.”Tyler CannonLTCC Nordic Center creator

“It is very gratifying,” Cannon said. “The response I’ve gotten this year has just been amazing — people have come out in droves and it’s been really cool.”

When Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area closed in 2012 after 27 years of operation, it left a void for the sport on the South Shore. Cannon purchased the grooming equipment from Spooner Lake owner Max Jones, and he aimed to fill this need.

“I think you have to have a Nordic center in an alpine town — we were certainly lacking it,” Cannon said. “I know it’s a niche market, but it’s an amenity that makes the town that much cooler.”

Collaboration between Cannon, the college and the U.S. Forest Service’s Garrett Villanueva helped create the LTCC Nordic Center. For Cannon, a passion for skiing turned into a passion for the now 3-mile course.

“I love to groom it and then ski it. I put down a good groom, I see the corduroy — and I put on my skate skis and take a couple laps with my dog,” Cannon said. “It started with me getting on my skis and skiing it just to find a track.”

The course features hilly and flat sections, and a main 3-mile loop that includes portions in the meadow along Trout Creek. It is equipped for both styles, groomed wide enough to skate while including a 1.5-mile classic track — and it is still open to those taking a walk through the meadow.

“It’s really beautiful and the terrain is perfect for this — there’s enough undulations in the hills that it’s really nice,” Cannon said. “It’s a fun scene down there in the meadow. It’s almost like a maintained park now with people taking more care of it.”

Cannon grooms the course daily depending on conditions along with Tristan Cochrane and Brad Jackson. Volunteers maintain the center, and those interested in helping out can contact Cannon at 530-541-6994.

LTCC’s Community Education Program operates the center. The program offers not-for-credit courses in a number of different areas and is self-supported by the fee structure of the various courses.

“It’s a perfect example of how community education is a great partner, not just for the college but for our community,” said Megan Waskiewicz, LTCC’s community education director. “We happen to have a beautiful facility right in the middle of town, and we can offer these services.”

Season passes for the center cost $29 for individuals, $39 for couples and $49 for families. College and Lake Tahoe Unified School District students can buy a season pass for $10, and day passes are available for $5. Passes are available at the Community Education Program’s office (B107) or online at

“We kept the passes super affordable because we just wanted to get people a taste of what it is and experience the product out here,” Waskiewicz said. “You get scenic views of amazing peaks in our basin because we’re right in the middle of town.”

The college currently uses fees from passes to offset the cost of the grooming equipment and course maintenance. In the future, Waskiewicz said it plans to grow the center from a course to a full program — provided the weather continues to cooperate.

“This is a banner year because everything has worked out with our snow,” Waskiewicz said. “As long as we can work with Mother Nature on it, we can really build this program.”

With snow finally on the ground, the sky is now the limit for the LTCC Nordic Center.

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