This year marks the 26th season that West Yellowstone, Montana has played host to cross country skiers during the month of November. Known for years as Fall Camp, the renamed Yellowstone Ski Festival takes place during Thanksgiving Week on November 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2005.
West Yellowstone's location and elevation mean that we usually have enough snow to start grooming our trails by mid-November. Back in the late 1970's, the US Ski Team started to make annual trips to West Yellowstone and soon after that, Drew Barney and Dick Hunt started a series of Nordic ski clinics during the week of Thanksgiving. Eventually, Drew and Dick invited the major ski manufacturers to attend and allow the public to demo the latest in Nordic equipment. Today, this gathering of skiers is called the Yellowstone Ski Festival and the event includes skate and classic clinics for skiers of all levels, the Try It and Buy It Gear Demo, an Indoor Ski Show and the NorAm XC Supertour races.
A note about the 2004 Yellowstone Ski Festival: Attendance at the 2004 event was up 25% over 2003. The increase in attendance overwhelmed restaurants in town several of which were closed while the owners attended to personal business. We are glad to report that at least five restaurants that were closed during last year's Ski Festival have committed to being open during this year's event. There will be plenty of food available during the Yellowstone Ski Festival this year!
Here is a list of restaurants that have committed to being open so far:
What's new for the 2005 Yellowstone Ski Festival? Here's a start:
Kid's Recreation Program: We are again expanding our offerings for children. In addition to the clinics run by the Montana Outdoor Science School that were added last year, we are working with the Recreation Coordinator for the Town of West Yellowstone to create even more kid friendly options. The details haven't been worked out yet but it is safe to say that there will be some type of daily recreation program available during the Ski Festival. As soon as we work out the details, we will post the information on our website: www.yellowstoneskifestival.com .
Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot: We envision this as a fun run – even more exercise to help work up an appetite before Thanksgiving Dinner! Imagining Yellowstone Avenue full of Nordic skiers makes us smile, too. Again details will be posted on the event website as they become available.
100 Meter World Record Attempt: This event will be sponsored by the USSA and will be open to a very limited number of qualified participants. The location will be great for spectators, though. We plan to hold this event early on Wednesday afternoon just to the west of the Gear Demo area. We will do our best to find a time that is convenient for ski teams, clinic participants and the general public.
There are a few other fun and new events in the works (yoga classes, three person ski races, obstacle course relay races) and more information will be available at www.yellowstoneskifestival.com when the details are more firm.
It may still be summertime and you're probably thinking about swimming or trail running or cycling - but it's not too early to start thinking about the 2005 Yellowstone Ski Festival. It's a great place to start the season, learn new techniques, refine your skills and become a better skier. It's a great place to shop for your next pair of skis. It's a great place to watch expert skiers in action. And it's a great place to spend Thanksgiving. Make your plans now!