Teton Valley bids farewell to beloved Nordic ski race

Racers participated in the 20th and final Teton Ridge Classic, which was cancelled due to declining participation numbers.
The Teton Ridge Classic had races from two to 24 kilometers long on Saturday. (Natalie Schachar/KHOL)

 

Saturday marked the end of a 20-year-long tradition in Teton Valley, Idaho: the Teton Ridge Classic.

The cross country ski race at Grand Targhee Resort drew together locals and out-of-towners for one final event. 

“After you put on a race for 20 years, you get to be good friends with so many people that have come back year after year,” said Dan Streubel, the race’s director.

Previously, Streubel held the Nordic event at Teton Ridge Ranch.

“It was a perfect course for a longer distance classic race,” Streubel said. “The way we designed it, it had a perfect flow to the course.”

When the ranch closed as a guest ranch over ten years ago, participants still had a once-a-year opportunity to ski the course thanks to an agreement with a corporation owned by billionaire Paul Allen, which controlled the property. 

Allen died in 2018, and about five years ago, the ranch reversed its policy of allowing public access.

The race found a new home at Grand Targhee, but the cross-country event at the downhill resort didn’t have quite the same appeal, Streubel said. 

Participant numbers declined from about 250 to around 160 this year, which is one of the reasons Streubel decided to cancel the race. 

Patrick Gilroy, the only participant who has raced all 20 years, said he was “just psyched that we’ve kept it together that long.” 

“What else would you have wanted to do on a powder day in January besides go out and Nordic ski?” Gilroy said.

Liam Peterson, who won the 14K, said the end of the race also coincided with his final year on the Grand Targhee Ski Foundation Teton Nordic Team, as he’s graduating high school and headed to college.

“I’m sad to go, but excited to continue my journey,” the high school senior said after 11 years on the team.

Meanwhile, the race may evolve, too. The possibility that it will return at a different venue isn’t totally off the table.

Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, which grooms Nordic ski trails, is exploring a potential course on the west side of Teton Valley in the Big Hole Mountain range, but it would be years before the race comes to a new venue.

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About Natalie Schachar

Natalie Schachar is a freelance journalist currently covering the American West for KHOL and various outlets. Her stories have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times and other publications. She feels that each of her articles contains tiny pieces of her soul which are now floating somewhere on the internet.

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