Indy Pass Adds Six Cross-Country Ski Resorts, Launches $69 XC Pass
Access is included on all downhill Indy Passes; more than 30 total partners could join for 2022-23 season
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Skiing when no other skiing is available
They’re red and white, plastic and edgeless, eight feet long and two inches wide with metal-clip bindings. My dad showed up with them some time in the mid-90s, a Mid-Michigan garage-sale score with “$2-” magic-markered across a strip of masking tape. Circa early-70s, with plastic-toed size 10.5 shoes clipped to the skis.
For years they sat. If I was skiing, I was going up on a chairlift and down securely bolted in. Somehow the skis made it to Manhattan, standing, for years, alongside my Rossignols in the corner of my small apartments.
Then. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006: a nor-easter exploded out of the wilderness, clobbering the city with 26.9 inches of snow. A record. I had no car. No way out. And there, dusty and beckoning, those vintage Treks.
New York City mid-snowstorm is stalled, bewildered, joyous. There is simply no place to put that much snow. Outside amid fat flakes drifting like a Tahoe bomber I buckled in. Strode as I’d seen on Nordic Track commercials, extending plastic poles with six-inch baskets in an awkward shuffle, west toward Central Park.
Over sidewalks lumped and uneven, shoveled and boot-pocked, curb-cuts barricaded high by the plows, I somehow made it, turned north along the ring road. Shuffling, finding something resembling a stride, 6.1 miles. Normally dense with joggers, bicyclists, men on contraptions Seussian and alarming, the road felt secret, country-sealed and forgotten. The drama: cliffs jutting edgewise over the road, like Colorado gap jumps frozen on the cover of Powder magazine.
In the years that followed, I repeated that process a dozen or more times. Whenever eight inches or more dropped on Manhattan. Which wasn’t very often. Until last year, when the 50-year-old toe clip finally snapped in a Brooklyn park during a February dump. The city is the only place I’ve ever cross-country skied.
Indy goes country
But that could be about to change. Today, Indy Pass, the 82-resort downhill passport that I don’t leave home without in the winter months, added six additional cross-country ski resorts to its portfolio (Indy already included Sovereign Lake, British Columbia on the pass this season). It hopes to sign more than 30 total by the time the 2022-23 ski season starts. Downhill Indy Pass holders will get two days at each cross-country center for no additional cost, but a standalone cross-country version is available for $69 ($29 for kids).
I wasn’t really sure what to do with this information at first. I am aware that people cross-country ski, like I am aware that they snowmobile or play volleyball or fish. But I know nothing about these things, and I know nothing about cross-country skiing other than that it makes me sweat as though I’m sunbathing on the surface of Mercury. Of the culture or the norms or the scope and scale of the whole business, I’m ignorant. It turns out, however, the activity is quite popular.
“There are millions of cross-country skiers in North America and a large percentage of them also take part in alpine skiing,” said Indy Pass founder Doug Fish. “The Indy Pass is excited to welcome this passionate community of skiers and independent resorts to our coalition, and we are proud to help find common ground (snow-covered that is) for all those who love sliding on snow.”
Did you hear that, kids? Millions. There’s something here, a potential untapped, perhaps. To bring the whole thing together, Indy is partnering with the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) – see, it’s a thing – and will donate 10 percent of pass sales to the non-profit organization.
“The partnership with Indy Pass and Cross Country Ski Areas Association is an exciting and logical next step as we see explosive cross-country skiing growth,” said Reese Brown, executive director of the CCSAA. “As people begin to travel again and the number of alpine skiers visiting cross-country centers increases, the Indy XC Pass offers great value.”
And how about that? Explosive growth. OK, you have my attention. Maybe I will check out, let’s see here: Woodstock Nordic Center in Vermont, Maplelag in Minnesota, JacksonXC in New Hampshire, Waterville Valley – hey, I’ve heard of that! – in New Hampshire, White Grass – I’ve heard of that one too! – in West Virginia, and High Point Cross Country Ski Center in New Jersey. New Jersey? Cross country? This I’ve got to see.
I’ll check my tone here. I don’t know if Nordic Bro is the sort who threatens to whoop my ass for mis-identifying the model of his Subaru, or the type of dude who chuckles lightly as he waxes on the hopelessness of man and the tyranny of the industrial slaughterhouse as told through his book of poetry. Either way, I need to get on with this article before I hurt myself. Let’s take a look at what we’re getting ourselves into here, and what this could mean for the Indy Pass and skiing of all kinds:
Below the subscriber jump: a breakdown of each resort, plus a serious(-ish) take on Indy’s expansion into the cross-country realm.