I know that I say this every fall but, believe it or not, the Yellowstone Ski Festival is right around the corner. By my count, it starts in just over 70 days! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Festival all you really need to know is that for well over twenty years, cross country skiers from across North America and around the world have traveled to West Yellowstone, Montana to begin their Nordic ski season on the Rendezvous Ski Trails. Traditionally, the Yellowstone Ski Festival takes place during Thanksgiving week and this year will be no different. The dates for this year’s Yellowstone Ski Festival are November 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24, 2007. The event's highlights include a series of Nordic skiing clinics, the SuperTour races, the Try It and Buy It Gear Demo (the largest public gear demo of its type) and an Indoor Ski Show. For this feature on the event, I thought I would run through a series of Frequently Asked Questions about the Festival here we go:
1. What is the Yellowstone Ski Festival?
The Yellowstone Ski Festival is an annual gathering of Nordic skiers that takes place during Thanksgiving week in West Yellowstone, Montana. The event is geared toward skiers of all skill levels. All of the major cross country ski equipment manufacturers attend the event and offer attendees the opportunity to demo the latest in Nordic equipment. The Festival also includes a series of Nordic ski clinics taught by some of the best coaches in the business and several years ago we added a series of clinics for kids. Many high school and college ski teams from Alaska to Maine start their on-snow ski season during the Festival. The US Ski Team and the US Biathlon Team all have representatives in West Yellowstone during the event. It’s a busy week on West Yellowstone’s Rendezvous Ski Trails!
2. How do I get to West Yellowstone?
Many Midwesterners drive to West Yellowstone. For those of you that choose to fly, the closest airports are in Bozeman, Montana, Idaho Falls, Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming. We have worked with Karst Stage to arrange shuttles from Bozeman to West Yellowstone and back during the week of the Ski Festival. Reservation information and a shuttle schedule and can be found by clicking on the â€œTransportation from Bozemanâ€ button at the top left hand corner of www.yellowstoneskifestival.com homepage. If you fly into Idaho Falls or Jackson you will need to rent a car. The drive to West Yellowstone from each of those towns is about two hours.
3. What are the Fall Camp Clinics?
The Fall Camp Clinics are the cornerstone of the Yellowstone Ski Festival. Organized and run by Dick Hunt and Drew Barney, the clinic offerings include one day, three day and five day sessions. For more specific information about the clinics or for a registration form visit www.yellowstoneskifestival.com and click on the â€œClinicsâ€ button under the Chamber of Commerce logo at the top of the page. Specific questions about the clinics should be directed to Drew Barney. Drew can be reached in the evenings at 406-646-9379.
4. When do the clinics fill up?
Generally, the clinics do not fill up until early November and we will update the website as each clinic does fill. That said you should register for your clinic as soon as you know what your plans are.
5. Can you tell me more about the clinics for kids?
Several years ago, we partnered with the Montana Outdoor Science School and they run our kid’s clinics. There is detailed information about the clinic offerings on the â€œClinicsâ€ page of www.yellowstoneskifestival.com. Within a week or so, we will add a registration link to the MOSS webpage so that you can get your little ones signed up for a class or two.
6. What else is there to do besides ski?
Please keep in mind that this is a ski festival! That said the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is open all week, the IMAX will be open for at least part of the week, and the Bear’s Den Cinema will also be open. The west entrance to Yellowstone National Park is closed during the week of the Ski Festival but you can still ski into the Park from West Yellowstone. For those of you that are interested in a longer trip, the Lamar Valley is accessible by private vehicle via the Park entrance at Gardiner.
7. How much are trail passes and where can I purchase them?
One day passes are $10, three day passes are $25 and a pass for the month of November is $45. Trail passes are sold at the trailhead, at Freeheel and Wheel, at the Chamber of Commerce and at the front desk of the Holiday Inn.
8. What is the SuperTour?
The SuperTour is a USSA race series that kicks off in West Yellowstone on November 23rd and 24th. We expect about 250 racers to compete on each day. Everyone is welcome to participate but you should know that the average racer is very skilled.
9. What’s the deal with the Indoor Ski Show?
There are a few evening sessions that are for clinic participants only and there is usually a sign at the door that will let you know if that’s the case. Otherwise, everyone is welcome to attend the evening ski show and the wax clinics free of charge.
10. I still have questions — who do I contact?
The best way to contact me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I work on Ski Festival for an hour or so almost every morning and I will respond to your email as quickly as possible. If you need to talk about something, you can leave a message at 406-646-7097 and someone will return your call as soon as possible. See you in November!