Snow means Spidahl’s Ski Gaard winter wonderland this year [UPDATED]Published 8:07am Monday, December 24, 2012 Updated 10:09am Monday, December 24, 2012
With a dud season for snow last winter, Spidahl Ski Gaard turned lemons into lemonade by using the down time to cut new trails. While there is still limited snow this year, most of the trails are open and many skiers have already taken advantage of some wintry fun and exercise.
“The skiing has been pretty good considering the amount of snow we have received,” said co-owner David Spidahl. “There are some new sections we worked on last year when there wasn’t any snow and those are a little rough and need some more snow to be officially open.”
Last winter, David was able to complete a goal he had in the back of his mind for 15 years.
“Many years ago, when my father (Walter Spidahl) owned the place, there was a poor snow year in Norway, and his friend Erik Foss called and told my dad there wasn’t any skiing there,” he said. “My dad said ‘we have lots of snow here. Why don’t you come over for a month and stay with us?’”
Foss visited the Spidahls and said the trails were really nice, but it would be great to have one long trail.
“That has kind of been in my mind ever since,” David said.
Once the area sees about six more inches of snow, Spidahl Ski Gaard will open its first ever 10-kilometer trail. This trail will combine parts of Speedy’s and Skidalen (formerly trails seven and six) along with a a spattering of new connecting trails.
“It’s like a feather in your hat as a cross country ski area to have a long trail,” David said. “The thing that’s nice about the trail is that it has a good variety of terrain. It has killer hills on the first part and nice flowing sections on the second half.”
The Ski Gaard has also recently added a program to introduce young skiers to the sport. The Minnesota Youth Ski League has added a chapter at Spidahls’.
“It has just exploded,” said co-owner Cindy Spidahl. “The first year we had 12 kids in the program, and this year we are approaching 35.”
The organization recently received a $1,000 grant from the Birkie Foundation to purchase new skate skiing equipment for the kids. The group meets eight consecutive Saturdays beginning Jan. 5, and the program is run entirely by parents and volunteers.
“It has been helpful for us as a business to increase exposure to both kids and parents,” David said.
Another feature that has been added in recent years is the lighted, 1 kilometer loop that can be used by season pass holders even after the sun goes down.
“It’s a nice way for somebody to come in after work and get an hour or so in of skiing,” said David. “The lights come on at dusk, and they will stay on as long as somebody is out there.”
David and Cindy have owned Spidahl Ski Gaard since 1995, and they said they are glad to have the trails open again like usual this year.
“It’s really a hobby,” Cindy said. “We’re both involved in other businesses, but we do this because we love it.”
Cindy said it would be strange to be at the Ski Gaard in the winter without skiers around.
“There’s just a clubhouse atmosphere here,” she said. “I come home from work and it’s 5 p.m., and there’s always skiers sitting around chatting and having fun.”