As sweat began to saturate my long sleeve base layer and my unnecessary fleece layer and my ski jacket, I realized I had naively been thinking like a downhill skier. But there would be no time spent freezing on an ice cold chairlift today. Nordic skiing is quite different, I quickly realized. If you’ve ever clicked into a pair of cross-country skis, even once, you know that it is an underrated, sweat-inducing workout that can leave even the most fit people panting and shedding excess layers.
On this February day, the Colorado sun beat down and reflected off the snow that I was gliding on top of with my rented Nordic skis. Left hand pole plant with left leg slide, pause, repeat on the other side. It took focus, but I was starting to get the hang of it. The trail rolled up and around the golf course revealing clear views of Pikes Peak and the neighborhood homes that border the course.
Although it was my first time on real Nordic skis, I was feeling confident—thanks to guidance from Michael Brothers, founder and keeper extraordinaire of Woodmoor Nordic Ski.
The avid Nordic skier and former Olympic hopeful poached tracks on the Woodmoor Country Club Golf Course for years before trying to convince then-club owners to let him make official Nordic trails on the untouched winter golf course. After two failed requests, Brothers finally gained approval from new club owners four years ago, and Woodmoor Nordic was born.
“I really did this for selfish reasons,” Brothers says. “I really wanted to be able to have a place to ski close to my house, and there are tons of people in the same predicament and are willing to pay.”
Joking aside, Brothers has invested thousands of his own dollars—and probably hours—into his hobby business. Over the past four years, he has bought Nordic ski gear for guests to rent and a snowmobile equipped with proper grooming equipment. Every evening around 5 or 6 p.m. when people are off the course, Brothers is out there on his snowmobile making the classic Nordic track that resembles train tracks and creating the smooth corduroy that lines the rest of the trail. Nordic trails total just under 12 kilometers, while the snowshoeing trails total just about 9 kilometers.
Fees from daily ski passes and donations from supporters go toward snowmobile gas, more rental equipment and maintenance of the grooming machines. Unfortunately, Brothers’ used snowmobile is on its last leg. Encouraged by his community of skiers and friends, he has set up a GoFundMe site to purchase a new snowmobile for grooming in order to keep the center running—for himself and others, of course.
“The biggest issue now is the weather and whether we have the snow to do it,” Brothers says. “This winter has been good.” And he hopes fresh snow will extend the season a bit later into March.
Those who head to Woodmoor Nordic can ski and take lessons in both skate skiing and classic skiing. Brothers says that for classic nordic skiing you don’t really need a lesson. “If you can walk, then you can walk on skis. It’s very easy to learn but more difficult to master.”
He describes skate skiing as quite the opposite. “Even if you have ice skated before, it’s still different enough that it can be very frustrating without a lesson. But on the flip side, if you have a lesson you can get good really fast.”
So what’s next for Woodmoor Nordic? Brothers acknowledges that because the trails are limited to the golf course property, trail expansion isn’t possible. But for accessibility and cost, it’s hard to beat. “There aren’t many places that are better than this,” Brothers says. I would have to agree.
If You Go
Cost: Daily trail pass fee $15 per person for nonmembers and guests—check in at the Fitness/Tennis Center for a trail pass sticker. Woodmoor Country Club members can ski for free. Season passes are available for $130 per person or $220 per family, but Michael Brothers recommends not buying the season pass too early as the weather for the season is so unpredictable.
Rental Fees: $16 a day for skis, boots, poles or snowshoes and poles. Limited selection of gear and sizes, so be sure to contact Brothers ahead to rent gear on weekends or weekdays. Mountain Chalet also rents Nordic gear.
Lessons: One hour ski lessons run $35 per person for group lessons of 5-10 skiers, or $55 per person for private lessons for no more than 4 skiers. Available for either classic or skate techniques. All ability levels accommodated. Appointments required.
Hours and Days: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, weather dependent. Check for closures and course conditions on the Woodmoor Nordic Facebook page.
Directions: 18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument, CO 80132. From I-25, take exit 161 onto CO-105. Go north on Woodmoor Drive to Woodmoor Country Club on your right.