Skiing opportunities in town

Julie Painter cross-country skis near the Snake River in Freeman Park on Saturday. (Jerry Painter photo)

It’s Christmas and time is tight, things can be rushed and getting away to the distant backcountry can be tough.

But you want some time on your skis, so here’s an option: visit one of the nearby city parks. Because the base underneath the snow is generally sod, it doesn’t take much snow to give cross-country skis enough to work with.

On Saturday, my wife, Julie, and I went to Freeman Park about midday and toured the park on skis. The park is plenty big to get in a few miles without having to retrace your tracks too many times. While there we also saw a fat bike rider following the paved path and occasionally heading up and down some slopes. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the city is holding its Festival of Lights at Freeman Park featuring 100 light displays. The cost is $10 a car load. This light display ends Christmas Eve.

On Saturday, there was plenty of snow off the roads and walkways to accommodate skis. If you ski along the Snake River, you almost get the feeling of being in the backcountry — just ignore those buildings and power lines and focus on the ducks and flowing water. We had a bit of fun skiing the sledding hill near the Idaho State Vietnam Veterans Memorial a few times.

I have known a few guys who attempted to play the disc golf course under a blanket of snow. Despite having bright colored discs, they still managed to lose most of their discs and didn’t finish the course.

When there is enough snow, Nordic trails are groomed at Tautphaus Park. While the course is not particularly long, a few trips around makes for a great workout. Some friends use these park ski outings as their regular morning workout instead of a winter gym membership. Tautphaus Park also has an outdoor skating area when conditions allow.

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Results from Saturday’s 60K Fat Bike Pursuit held in Island Park were:

Women: 1. Rebecca Rusch, 2. Brooke Jeffs and 3. Deanna Halford.

Men: 1. Jamey Driscoll, 2. Geoffrey Montague and 3. Bart Flynn.

Congrats to two local skiers, Brooke Jeffs and Deanna Halford, who landed on the podium. Some might recognize Rebecca Rusch of Sun Valley as the same woman featured in the film “Blood Road” shown here recently.

Racers reported challenging conditions with snowfall making the trail slow. Several riders didn’t finish.

For more information on the race, go to “Fat Pursuit” on Facebook.

The next big race is the Fat Pursuit 200K and 200-mile to be held Jan. 5 starting from Pond’s Lodge in Island Park. This race is serious and requires some credentials for would-be participants to enter. For information on that race, visit http:/fatpursuit.com/racer-info/.

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