With Central Oregon’s inaugural Great Nordeen Tour attracting more than 250 racers on Jan. 11, 2003, the event could become a new national race.
“This will be a national-caliber race by next year,” says Ben Husaby, the Nordic Director with the Mt. Bachelor Ski Education Foundation in Bend, Ore., and a former Olympic cross-country skier. Husaby has great expectations for the second Great Nordeen race scheduled for January 2004 in Bend, Ore. “We plan on increasing the distance from 36 kilometers, which we did this year, to a true marathon — one that could easily become the fastest ski marathon in the nation.”
As the only true long-distance race in the western United States this time of the year, event organizers hope to attract skiers from the entire Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country.
The long-time goal of the foundation is for the new point-to-point race to become a west-coast institution — an event skiers plan their entire race season around — much like the Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“We wanted to establish a major event that can unite cross-country skiers in Central Oregon and put Central Oregon on the map. We already know we have excellent skiing, but we want to show off our ability to put on a first-class ski race,” says Chuck Kenlan, the MBSEF Executive Director. “Events are important to the community. This ski tour has the potential to bring thousands of people to town,” Kenlan adds.
MBSEF event staff also expects the race to increase the interest in cross-country skiing.
“Events and races serve as a community-builder and are a great way to meet individuals with similar interests,” says Ben Husaby,
John Downing, national director of American Cross-Country Skiers AXCS, believes the Nordeen has huge potential: “A big event provides a driving force for existing skiers and more importantly new skiers to get fired up about jumping in with both feet to performance cross-country skiing,” Downing says.
“The Nordeen can, over time, become something like the Pole Pedal Paddle (Bend), Hood to Coast (Portland) or the Portland Marathon where you see a wide range of people who don’t consider themselves â€˜elite athletes’ going out and improving their fitness because they have a specific goal to shoot at,” Downing predicts.
Husaby is particularly excited about the race course, which has an overall loss of 2,600 feet and a net loss of 1,600 feet:
“The race covers some really fun terrain — mostly rolling with some really good downhills.”
In the 2003 Nordeen race, Bend-based Olympic skiers Justin Wadsworth and Suzanne King, who won the overall men’s and women’s races, both commented on the skiabilty of the 36-kilomter course and the fun terrain.
“This is a great course,” Wadsworth said after winning the men’s category by nearly 10 minutes — with the amazing time of 1 hour 14 minutes and 51 seconds.
King, who finished in 1 hour 24 minutes and 17.5 seconds, agrees: “The course was well-prepared in terms of grooming and crossings,” she says. “And the terrain was challenging and interesting — a nice variety of climbs and descents to mix up the overall loss of elevation.”
With Central Oregon’s year-round tourism and well established infrastructure, visiting event participants can indulge in a variety of lodging, dining and activity options. Local businesses and event sponsors contribute to make the Nordeen a national-caliber event. Says Scott Murray, owner of presenting sponsor On The Way Ski and Bike Shop: “This event is great because it creates more exposure for Nordic skiing, and it is great to see so many people stoked on doing a marathon. Everyone keeps telling their friends about the race and that’s what is so great about it. Next year it will be a 500-600 participant event for sure.”
Contact: Inge Scheve, MBSEF Media Assistant, 541-388-0002