The ski season was off and running by the first of November. While the trails at the Happy Jack Recreation Area lacked actual ski grooming, enough skiers were out to pack down a decent set of parallel ski tracks in the 10 to 12 inches of snow.

Runners, hikers and snowbikers were also on the trails as outdoor enthusiasts enjoyed the snow via various modes. The multi-use trails were even packed, providing alternate trails for all users.

While many Laramie residents likely bemoaned the early cold and snow, those hitting the trails were in celebration mode for the opportunity to enjoy such early skiing. Their joy was palpable.

Then the spigot shut off. Over the next two weeks the snow melted, blew away or just evaporated. The early ski season fizzled.

After about two weeks of mild and snow-free weather, a more active period began this past Wednesday. This recent blast of snow and cold is just the beginning salvo that is expected to repeat several times between now and early December.

This is all good news to those who are chomping at the bit to hit the slopes, ski the trails or get out on a snowbike. The forecast is for a rather active period with temperatures below normal and the potential for snow slightly above average on through Thanksgiving and at least into early December.

No doubt ski grooming, provided by the Medicine Bow Nordic Association, will kick off on the trails at Happy Jack Recreation Area soon. While skiing on the trails is free, donating and becoming a member of MBNA supports both the ski trail and multi-use trail grooming efforts. Annual memberships can be made on the MBNA website (www.medicinebownordic.org). Individual membership is $15, family membership is $30 and lifetime membership is $350.

Now is also the time to plan and sign-up for a number of cross-country ski classes offered through MBNA. Classes are available for adults and children. There is also a need for adult skiers to lend a hand as volunteers for the children’s classes.

Adult classes will be taught, as they have been for many years, by Laramie resident Ken Cramer. Classes kick off in mid-January and run for four consecutive Saturdays. The beginner cross-country ski class, which is offered Saturday mornings, targets those adults who have never cross-country skied before. It teaches the basics of classic style skiing. The adult beginning skate class, with lessons in the afternoons, is for those with experience in the classic technique but who want to pick up the pace and learn skating technique.

Participants in both classes are responsible for supplying their own ski equipment. The class fee is $50 for MBNA members and $65 for non-members for each four-week session. With both classes, there is one classroom session to go over equipment, clothing, waxing and where to ski.

The Wee Ski, Kids Ski and Youth Ski Programs are slated for every Sunday afternoon in February. Wee Ski is for children ages 5 and 6 and involves an hour of instruction from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Note that the minimum age of 5 is strictly enforced; children under the age of 5 at the start of the session are not eligible.

Kid’s Ski is for children ages 7 to 10 and Youth Ski is for ages 11 to 14. Both programs involve 2 hours of instruction from 1:15 – 3:15 p.m. There are two options for the Youth ski classes, with one focused on classic technique and the other on skate technique. For the skate class, skiers should already be comfortable on classic or touring skis.

Cost for Wee ski is $40 and Kid’s Ski and Youth Ski are $50. Both programs offer discounts to MBNA members and for parents who volunteer to help teach. Scholarships are also available. For more information or to volunteer, contact Peggy McCrackin, Ski School Director at mbnaskischool@gmail.com.

In addition to ski lessons, ski races are scheduled throughout the season. The race season kicks off with the Holiday Hurrah on Saturday, Dec. 14, if conditions allow. This relaxed early season race is free and lacks prizes but offers good comradery and good timing.

High school races come early this season, taking place Dec. 20 and 21. Other races, including those open to citizen racers, middle school, and the Winter Senior Olympics, are listed on the MBNA website.

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