Monday, December 14, 2009
Steamboat Springs Hunkered in a tiny room at the end of a hallway and under the stairs, Emily Lovett and Katie Lindquist soaked up the sound of silence, made their way through sandwiches and took just a moment to enjoy their accomplishment.
Upstairs and outside, about 100 noisy people enjoyed that same achievement.
In seven years, the pair has turned their brainchild for a Steamboat Springs-based Nordic ski camp into a thriving, successful venture.
The camp, which ran Saturday and Sunday at the Steamboat Nordic Center in Steamboat Springs, was again filled to the brim.
“I love the energy. It’s awesome,” Lovett said. “We have a hundred skiers that are eager to learn. We learn from each other, and it’s just a great atmosphere.”
At first, the idea was to create the kind of camp devoid of the things that used to drive Lovett and Lindquist, avid Nordic skiers, crazy at other workshops.
They strove to be responsive to customers and to keep a healthily low coach-to-pupil ration.
“We’d both been to camps and gone ‘Ah, I just got left out. I wasn’t in an appropriate group, and no one cared,’” Lindquist said. “Sometimes, other people’s focus would be to get as many people into the camp as possible and not getting it to a number where they could keep people happy and having a good experience.”
The pair says they work best together. Lovett takes charge of organizing. Sunday afternoon, she made laps around the warm-up area at the Steamboat Nordic Center, ensuring every skier was in the right group with the right instructor.
Lindquist, meanwhile, is always the first to grab the megaphone when needed.
It’s a formula they’re convinced is working well, and the numbers bear that out. The camp sold out for the first time last year, and it filled again this year. There were 95 skiers Saturday and 75 Sunday.
The group is so alluring that representatives from major Nordic ski companies show up to sell products and offer demos.
The people who pack the camp couldn’t be more different from one another. There are 15 coaches, including previous Olympians. They are all experts.
Among the campers, meanwhile, there are skiers who rack up hundreds of miles a year on Nordic skis and some who spend many more hours logging vertical feet, Alpine style. There are young and old, experienced and pure novices.
“We try to break people in to groups. We have 15 people out on the snow working with different ability levels and different techniques,” Lovett said. “We set it up so people can get the personal attention they want when they come to something like this.”
That’s what appealed to Mike Carroll, who traveled from Richmond, Va., for the weekend.
Carroll isn’t new to skiing. He’s long been a ski patroller and regular skier at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort. He’s a newbie in terms of Nordic, however.
He started off the weekend with a day and a half of work on classic skiing. Instructors fine-tuned his form, and by lunch Sunday, he was confident he could tackle almost all of the terrain available at the Steamboat Nordic Center.
He switched to skate skis and wobbled like a fawn at first, but soon he had that figured out, as well.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn Nordic skiing,” Carroll said. “I’d done it a few times, but maybe two days before coming out here. The staff and coaches have really been great.”
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail email@example.com