The Boulder Gives Back

The Wood River Valley’s reputation for giving back and taking care of the people in our community is both well known and well deserved. There is no shortage of people, places and worthy causes in which we can invest our time, money and energy. And, with an estimated 215 non-profit organizations in Blaine County, there is an abundance of outlets for interests, causes and cares that align with your personal values and beliefs.

The Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour partnered with 24 nonprofit organizations this winter, having a direct financial impact on 13 organizations and working with another 10 in conjunction with staging the Boulder Mountain Tour, a cross country ski race run annually on the Harriman Trail since 1973.

Sloan Storey

Sloan Storey, a graduate of University of Utah and Wood River High School and alumna of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country program, skied in the 2019 Boulder to raise funds for The Hunger Coalition. Sloane works as a program coordinator in the summer driving the Hunger Coalition’s Bloom Truck which brings both food and – in conjunction with the Ketchum Community Library – books to children in isolated neighborhoods in Blaine County. Sloane raised $8,100 to purchase healthy food for local families, and surpassing her original goal of $6k, enough money to cover the cost of lunches for Bloom.

BMT participants who signed up in December helped fund a $535 donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Jon Engen, an iconic member of the Nordic community who died of the disease in April 2018 and in whose honor the race was held this year.

In recognition of Taul Paul, founder of the Galena Backcountry Ski Patrol who is retiring after 32 years of service, the BMT donated $1,000 to the organization for their constant and invaluable presence in ensuring the safety of the BMT participants on race day.

The 2018-19 SVSEF Gold Team with coach Chris Mallory, Adam Luban, Cate Brahms, Maddie Morgan, Katie Feldman, Peter Holmes and Kevin Bolger.

The BMT’s current cause is the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Gold Team. Founded in 2001 to aid elite athletes in their quest to be the best in the world, the Gold Team boasts several alumni who have gone on to Olympic and Paralympic glory, including snowboarders Kaitlyn Farrington (gold medalist), Chase Josey, and cross country skiers Morgan Arritola, Simi Hamilton, and Jake Adicoff.

Scaled back last year to refocus on Nordic skiing, the SVSEF Gold Team is comprised of six elite racers, including Kevin Bolger, who just completed his inaugural season with the U.S. Ski Team and was nominated to the 2019-2020 Cross Country B Team. Also on the gold squad; 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour champion Peter Holmes, Adam Luban, Katie Feldman (second in the 2019 BMT), Maddie Morgan, and Cate Brahms. The team is coached by Chris Mallory.

To help defray the costs of the Gold Team’s training camp in Bend, Oregon, at the end of May, the BMT is donating its share of proceeds from the official event poster to the squad. Hand-drawn and screen printed by local artist Jack Weekes of Type B Laboratories, the poster depicts Jon Engen charging down the Harriman Trail with the Boulder Mountains in the background. 30 out of 75 limited-edition prints remain at Independent Goods, located at 330 Walnut Avenue in Ketchum. The poster – which is $75 – is also available online at

The official 2019 poster created by Jack Weekes of 5B Laboratories.


The Boulder Mountain Tour salutes the following nonprofit organizations and the wonderful work you perform. We look forward to collaborating with you again next year.

Blaine County Recreation District

Blaine County School District

Camp Rainbow Gold

Galena Backcountry Ski Patrol

Galena Lodge

Girls on the Run

The Hunger Coalition

Ketchum Community Library

Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club

McCall Remastered

Mountain Humane

Mountain Rides

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Sun Valley-Community School

SVSEF Gold Team

Sun Valley Ski Academy

Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation

Sun Valley Suns Hockey

West Yellowstone Rendezvous

Wood River Ham Radio

Wood River St. Luke’s Foundation


YMCA of the Wood River Valley


2019 Zions Bank BMT Results Are Updated

Revised results from the 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour on February 2 have been updated on our website. Please see “results” to view.

Official race timer Sportstats will update their website today to reflect revisions made to their original calculations.

We apologize for the delay and thank you for being part of the 2019 BMT.

Next year’s race will be on Saturday, February 1, 2020.

Women’s age class champions for the Full Boulder of the 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour. Photo by Nils Ribi

2019 Zions Bank BMT Results Will Be Updated After Awards Ceremony

2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour results will be posted tonight after the awards ceremony at the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn. The party will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. All participants, family and friends are invited to attend.

In a photo finish, Peter Holmes of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation got a toe over Minnesota’s Matt Liebsch to claim first. SVSEF comp team racer Johnny Hagenbuch was third.

The women had an equally exciting finish with Erika Flowers nipping SVSEF Gold Team member Katie Feldman. Anja Gruber placed third.


Wave Assignments Set for 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour

Racer assignments are ready for the 2019 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour. The 46th annual cross country race takes place Saturday, February 2, on the Harriman Trail of the Sawtooth National Forest north of Ketchum. This year’s race attracted 907 registrants.

Click on the link below to see wave assignments. Please note; every effort has been made to place each racer in the appropriate group, both for the racer’s personal enjoyement and safety of the event.

Thank you.


Sloan Story Is Racing Against Hunger

Born and raised in Ketchum, Sloan Storey is using the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour to help fight hunger in Blaine County.

A graduate of University of Utah where she was captain of the cross country team, Sloan grew up skiing in the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s cross country program and is now a coach with SVSEF.

Marrying her passion for skiing and her role at The Hunger Coalition, Sloan is skiing in the BMT to raise money in the fight against hunger. Here is a letter she recently sent to friends and family.

Sloan Storey (far right) in the 2016 Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour.

For the last eight months I have been working for The Hunger Coalition, a nonprofit fighting food insecurity in my county. The role of the HC is to build a healthier, happier, more connected community through food. Whether that is providing good food to those that are food insecure (don’t have access to good food or can’t afford it), or providing a space for them to feel welcome, heard, and connected. We aim to address all root causes of food insecurity for all persons no matter their background or economic circumstances, because everyone deserves access to healthy food.

 In Blaine County it is especially hard to afford good food. Not only are we home to the 8th highest food costs and the 9th greatest wealth inequality in the nation, Idaho has the 2nd lowest wages in the country. Sadly, this means 1 in 3 local families struggle to eat well. A statistic about my own neighbors that I had no idea about while growing up – and was able to ignore due to the stigma that usually follows ‘the hungry.’

 I wanted to combine my worlds of Nordic skiing and food justice through a fundraiser for the Hunger Coalition by racing the Boulder Mountain Tour, a 34km Nordic race here in Sun Valley. This local race provides the opportunity to do something that I love while advocating for an organization that is fighting for the community I love. Good food has always fueled me to the finish line, and I want to provide that important fuel to local families. So, I’m asking you, and anybody you know, to support my adventure and donate to my cause by clicking this link:

 – Just $1 a kilometer will feed a family of three for a day!~ 

 Why donate?

 One of the first questions I usually get asked is “How many people does the HC actually feed?” My response, usually a surprise to most, is that we fed approximately 4,000 individuals last year, half of whom are children.

 The need is here, and in today’s environment it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Most of our participants are employed and have a home, but are just one crisis away from not being able to afford basic household necessities. (The ALICE population — A crisis similar to the current government shutdown. The Hunger Coalition is a progressive and effective solution to this life determining issue.

 The Hunger Coalition began as a basic food bank running off local donations. Today, the Hunger Coalition has grown to a choice food-bank (a food bank that acts as a small grocery store with nurturing and fresh foods the participants can choose from). As well as other community development programs. We have stepped away from the message of ‘Feeding the Hungry’ to ‘Building Community through Food.” With this new message we are encouraging our community to look at food justice as a whole, and engaging our participants in a new way to ensure we are fighting the stigma of being the ‘needy’ with self-empowerment. 

 A couple examples of this in our community is the Hope Garden and Bloom Farm. At these locations participants can volunteer their time gardening and then walk away with their own handpicked produce. We also provide cooking classes, women’s gardening groups, teen internships, and food demos. All of which are organized by and for our participants to provide space for growth and pride. 

 Sometimes its hard to put into words how much I think this organization is doing for our valley, but I have personally witnessed the growth and change it creates everyday. 

 My main role has been working as a program coordinator for the children’s programs. My biggest project being the Bloom Truck – a collaboration between the Hunger Coalition and the Community Library that provides free and nutritious lunches, as well as books, to kids in isolated neighborhoods throughout Blaine County. Thus, making sure no child goes hungry or without access to reading materials during the summer months. In addition, throughout the school year I work with almost every school, library and other local partners in the valley to provide Daily Bites – easily accessible snack pantries that provide all kids with nutrition throughout their day of learning and activities. Alongside Snack Packs – a program that provides nutritious and easy to prepare meals for kids to take home during the weekends. –More information about those programs here! Food for Kids

Counting Down to the Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour

Race day for the 46th annual Zions Bank Boulder Mountain Tour is drawing near and this year’s race promises to be special for several reasons.

The capstone event of the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, this year’s Boulder on February 2, 2019, will honor Jon Engen, a three-time Olympian who was a dedicated ambassador and respected competitor in the sports of cross country skiing and biathlon. A longtime Ketchum resident, Engen passed away from pancreatic cancer in April of 2018. Many of his friends from near and far, including Bozeman, Montana, where he attended college, will be in attendance to pay homage to Engen and ski in his memory.

Jon Engen leading the charge in 2017. Photo by Nils Ribi

The men’s elite field is shaping up to be a highly competitive one for the 34-kilometer race staged on the Harriman Trail in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Four-time Olympian Andrew Newell (2018, 2014, 2010, 2006) heads up a men’s elite field that includes 2018 champion Matt Gelso (1:10.28), 2018 bronze medalist Bryan Cook, 2012 BMT and Birkebeiner champion Matt Liebsch, a noted marathon racer, and 2008 BMT champ Michael Sinnott. This pack will be challenged by perennial top-10 finisher Wyatt Fereday, and top-20 racers from last year, Nathan Schultz, Harb Harrison, Orion Berryman, Noel Johnson, James Rucker and Joe Jensen.

With three-time defending champion Caitlin Compton Gregg set to give birth this month, the women’s field is wide open and several local women will be leading the charge. Annie Pokorny, a former Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team racer, returns to the field after finishing fourth in 2018. Sloan Storey, a SVSEF alumni, coach and former captain at University of Utah, will try and improve on her third-place finish in 2016. Emily Williams, another SVSEF coach and alumna. 2017 women’s silver medalist, Erika Flowers, skied to 16th place overall, 7:41 behind champion Silas Talbot.

Annie Pokorny training with the SVSEF Gold Team in 2016-17. Photo by Hillary Maybery.

Conversely, there is a non-timed Ninth Wave for participants who want to embrace the touring aspect of the event. There are currently 25 participants signed up for the Ninth Wave. Current registration for the event is nearing the 700-person mark with 117 people signed up for the very popular 15k Half Boulder. There are 83 open slots remaining in the Half, and 235 openings in the Full. The entry field is limited to 1,000 participants altogether and last year, 317 people signed up for the race in January. The course is set to accommodate skate and classic skiers.

Two weeks remain to register at the current $100 rate. At midnight on Friday, January 25 the rate goes up to $120 for the Full Boulder and $100 for the Half Boulder (currently $85). Registration closes on Monday, January 28 at midnight. There is no week-of-race registration. Sign up is through at

We are on track for fabulous conditions for the 2019 Boulder Mountain Tour. Photo by Steve Butler

All Boulder entries are eligible for a free pre-race clinic with Sun Valley Ski Education Gold Team racers at Sun Valley Resort on the Wednesday prior to the BMT, January 30. There is no trail fee, but participants are asked to check in at the ski desk in the lodge prior to the clinic.

The NordicTown USA Sprints on Thursday, January 31 at Simplot Field west of the Ketchum post office, feature a “Regs and Dregs” class for citizen racers. Pros and members of the SVSEF cross country team will also toe the line. Awards for the sprints will be held at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Ketchum, which will coincide with the kickoff celebration featuring live music by Ketchum’s own Pisten Bully’s, food and drink specials.

SVSEF junior racers get off the mark at the NordicTown USA Sprints. Photo by Nils Ribi.

The BMT Expo is on Friday, February 1 at the Limelight Hotel from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature some new vendors, including local artist John Caccia, Pit Viper of Utah, and Brynje, industry standouts SWIX, Madshus, Boulder Nordic Sport, and valley nonprofits Blaine County Recreation District, Sun Valley Ski Academy and Hunger Coalition. If you would like your business to be featured at the Expo, please contact Jody Zarkos at

Demo Days will be held on Sunday, February 3 at Sun Valley Resort from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local shops and industry representatives will be on hand to provide access and insight to all the latest and greatest gear and tips in cross country skiing. Demo Days is free to all BMT participants and open to the public. Sun Valley Resort will have the grill on with burgers, brats and veggie burgers available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

There are many ways to be involved in the race besides skiing in it. Volunteers are needed. It takes roughly 210 people to execute all facets of the event and everyone who volunteers for the race is invited to an appreciation party on Wednesday, February 13 at the Limelight Hotel. Go to to lend a hand.

The sunshine takes care of itself, but we need help with the flags, and other things! Photo by Nils Ribi.




Breaking Down the Boulder: Insights from a BMT Champ

How does your BMT story begin? It may end in a sore, tired, and (hopefully) sunburned heap on the snow, swearing off XC ski racing forever. Not to worry, this affliction will heal rapidly once you start trash talking to your friends how you will beat them in the BMT 2020…But what started your BMT career? Are you a glutton for punishment? Did you lose a bet? Maybe you are here to show everyone that an old dog can learn new tricks? I’m sure some of you got suckered in with the, “it’s all downhill” line. If so, I encourage you to strap on your 140 flex boots, lock your heels down, and head to the start line…

For those brave enough to tackle this 1,000 foot descent (lol, it’s all downhill, I promise) on XC gear, here’s six phases of the race to consider. DISCLAIMER: I was a “professional athlete” (making an NFL salary) for 15 years so spend the next three minutes of your life reading this at your own risk. I will not be held responsible for wasting your time nor giving bad advice…

1) Elbows and Ski Poles: The Start

A great marathon race starts as fast and hard as you can to build an early lead. As you’ve seen in the Tour De France, that usually works SUPER well. The start is important, but you’ve got 34 km to ‘race’; spend the start defending your poles and enjoying the gorgeous views – there’s plenty of time to make yourself tired later. At the starting line, mind the short bald man with the bullhorn, he is amusing (especially to himself) and will warn the stragglers of the men’s elite field to allow the elite women who catch them to pass with ease…These ladies have already beaten you by two minutes, let it go!

2) Do Not Color Outside The Lines: The Road Crossing

A kilometer or so into the race is a beautiful strip of pearly white to carry you across Highway 75. I will spare you the “stone grinding” jokes about what happens if you miss this white ribbon (you can’t). Note, this is a great place to knockout your competition, as a small nudge can send your competitor back to ‘go’ without collecting $200 dollars (actually, spending a lot more than $200 on a new pair of skis). In all seriousness, be light on your feet and head up and you will blast through this into Phase 3.

3) You’ll Ski At My Pace and Like It: The Infamous Hawk Hill

One could call this a big climb, but they would also call the Midwest ground zero for big mountain alpine skiing. The challenge here lies in the trail width – it doesn’t afford a three-person wide “I’m more fit than you” contest. This will help those who believe that this is their spot to make a move – trust me, it’s not. Let the trail width save you from yourself. Relax and flow up the hill, look forward to the great view from the top and the fun descent to follow.

4) Enjoy Your Next 20km: The Blowup

This overlooked bump will inform you immediately as to what kind of day you are having. A SNEAKY uphill that takes 30 seconds to ski but can put you one minute or more ahead (or behind) someone who started it with you. I have watched President Truman drop Fat Man AND Little Boy on legit racers here…However, if you are feeling good, this can be a great place to strut your stuff.

5) Fruit Of The Loom Is Not Going To Cut It: The (Sometimes) Cold Part

If you begin your clothing layers like with the same piece as Walter White in the first episode of Breaking Bad, you may regret it. “Frostbite Flats” translates directly in skier to “wear your wind briefs.” Even if it is warm on the day of the race, wind block material can’t hurt. This section of the course (from Baker Creek to the finish) contains great open skiing, where you can ski big and let your skis glide out. Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing views of the Boulders and the Big Wood River!

6) Move It Or Lose It: The Finish

I’ve been the one moving it – and also the one losing it. The end of the race is narrow, twisty, and FLAT. Think tactically, save energy, and do NOT start sprinting too early! The final drag is long, so be patient and time your ‘move’ such that you die (metaphorically only please) at the finish line, not 10 feet before it.

Remember these six phases and you might have a good race, or not, it’s really up to you. Write your own BMT phases; hopefully they involve fun racing, good weather, great snow, and amazing people. Enjoy your time on the Harriman Trail, it’s a beautiful place and you only get to race on it once a year (if you’re lucky)!

Matt Gelso is a recently retired professional ski racer with the SVSEF Gold Team. As a former member of the University of Colorado NCAA Ski Team and the U.S. Ski Team, he has raced throughout the U.S. and Europe in World Cup and World Championships competition. He now deals commercial and residential real estate in the Wood River Valley with Paul Kenny & Matt Bogue Real Estate. He is last year’s 2018 Boulder Mountain Tour champion.


Recipes to Fuel Your Life

Boulder Mountain Tour stalwart Brooke Hovey shares some of her favorite power recipes with us. Cook and enjoy!

Nicknamed “Sled Dog” for her love of endurance challenges and racing, Brooke Hovey is an athlete, mother, wife, chef and longtime Ketchum resident. She began cross country skiing later in life (23) after years of road running and competing in track and cross country for CU Boulder. She joined Team Rossignol and leaned how to ski efficiently with coaching from Jon Engen and fellow elite racers. Brooke specialized in skate sprints and 50 km ski marathons and has raced in the BMT 20 years with exception of 2-3 years. Almost every finish has been top 5; with many wins, second and third places. Brooke’s career as restaurant and private chef has always been about creating meals that are organic, local and sustainable, nutrient-dense, energy-packed and delicious, and says “Whether or not you are a trained athlete, food is the foundation of health, vitality and energy.” You can find her creations locally at Nourish Me.


1 1/2 cup filtered water

1 cup steamed quinoa

1/2 banana

3 tablespoons hemp seeds

1 tablespoon raw organic almond butter

Blend above ingredients in Vitamix or high-powered blender until smooth, transfer to mixing bowl

Add to liquid ingredients:

2 organic eggs

1/2 cup buckwheat flour ( I sell sprouted and freshly ground buckwheat at Nourishme in Ketchum)

3 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix all ingredients, let rest for 5 minutes while large skillet  is heating on medium heat

Spread 1 teaspoon coconut oil in pan, add 1 cup crepe batter, spread thinly to cover surface of pan (these work best as crepes rather than thicker pancakes) 

Cook 2-4 minutes per side until light golden brown

Fill with your choice of berries, applesauce, granola and yogurt (dairy-free or cow’s milk, just make sure it’s organic and grass-fed:)

GREEN SMOOTHIE  (perfect to go with crepes for full morning of outdoor, aerobic adventures on foot, bike or skis)

2 cups filtered water

1/2 cucumber

1/2 apple (or 1/4 cup frozen blueberries if you prefer to apple)

1/4 avocado

1 cup dark leafy greens (spinach, kale or swiss chard)

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon Udo’s 3-6-9 fatty acid oil blend (sold at Nourishme) or cold-pressed coconut oil

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients well in Vitamix

HEARTY LENTIL AND VEGETABLE SOUP (can be vegan or include organic sausage or chicken)

In stock pot saute over medium heat for 5-8 minutes:

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 diced yellow onion

1 diced leek

3 cloves garlic

4 diced carrots

3 ribs diced celery

2 teaspoons each Italian seasonings, oregano, basil and thyme

1/2-1 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 teaspoon black pepper


8 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup green lentils (rinsed and drained)

2 organic Italian sausages or 4 chicken thighs (if not vegan)

2 cups organic diced tomatoes

1-2 teaspoon sea salt or to your taste

Bring to boil, turn to simmer and cover for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft Before serving add:

handful of rough chopped dark leafy greens

1 diced zucchini

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar




Fine Tune Your Training for the Boulder Mountain Tour

The Boulder Mountain Tour is a fun and unique ski marathon.  At 34 kilometers in length and with 1,100 feet of elevation loss, the race is fast and challenging, but also accessible to athletes just getting into the sport. I’ll go over some training tips, workout ideas, and a general training template for the month leading up to the BMT.  

If you’re trying to be in peak fitness for the BMT, you want to have your largest amount of training volume three and four weeks out from the race. Get out for as much easy distance training as you can, while still mixing in a couple interval sessions and maintenance gym strength. Two weeks out from the race, the focus should be on tapering your hours and recovering from and absorbing the training block, while still getting in some harder intensity workouts. During the week leading up to the race, you should bump your training volume back up slightly and make sure to get in some harder “sharpening” workouts. One example could be a couple of 8-minute threshold intervals followed by a set or two of five minutes of 30 second hard/30 second easy. There’s also nothing like racing to get yourself into form, so ideally, seek out a local race or get some training friends together for a hard race type effort the weekend before the big event. Giving yourself too much of a taper can backfire and leave you feeling flat.  Do not be afraid of going into your targeted race with some training in your legs. That’s when I’ve seen our athletes have their best performances.

Training will help you feel more confident when you are on the Boulder Mountain Tour starting line. Photos by Nils Ribi. 

In building out your training weeks, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for two intensity sessions per week. Some of these should be shorter and harder such as 4 x 5 minute at 90 percent of your maximum, while others can be longer in duration such as 4 x 10 minute at 80 percent of your max, or one longer continuous threshold interval for up to an hour. One idea for a marathon-specific type workout is to go out and ski for a couple hours and then add a set of low level intervals like 4 x 3 minutes at the end. This teaches your body how to go hard when tired, which is key to skiing well during the important closing kilometers of marathons. Another area to focus on is building speed work into a couple distance skis each week. Add 10 x 10-15 seconds speeds into sessions every three minutes or every time you come to a kilometer marker. This will help you get off the start line faster, stay with a pack when someone attacks, and help with that finishing sprint.  

And help you finish strong like three-time BMT champion Caitlin Gregg. 

While putting in the training time is going to give yourself the biggest reward come race day, there’s a few other areas one can practice to help their performance. Make sure you get in a proper warm up. This should include at least 25 minutes of skiing, touching on each of the different race gears, starting easy and building towards some light intensity towards the end.  The pace is generally fast from the start and you need to be able to handle it without putting yourself under. You’re going to have a much easier time skiing 34 km with a pack and drafting versus skiing alone dangling 30 seconds off the back. Also, practice drinking/eating during some of your easier intensity sessions. You need to keep hydrated for the longer races and it’s important to know which products agree with your stomach. Some sports drinks have a lot of sugar, some very little. Know what works for you, and test them out.

Hopefully you can utilize a few of these training tips and have your most successful BMT yet!  

Chris Mallory has coached for Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation for 10 seasons while also spending three seasons coaching at the University of Vermont. He is currently serving as head coach of the SVSEF Gold Team.


How to Brew Coffee Using Your Nordic Know-How

By Liz Roquet 

It’s a beautiful winter morning. The sun is up, the forecast calls for 27 degrees, and the trail report shows everything from here to there was groomed by last night’s crew. You’re already looking up today’s wax recommendation, and deciding which skis will be perfect for the snow from Tuesday’s storm.

Your next move is to get this day started with your ritual cup of coffee.

You hit the kitchen and dump some coffee in the filter, fill the water from the kitchen sink, and press go on your electric brewer. It’s time to pray. Is today’s cup going to be a good one? Have you used the right proportion of “that seems right” and “heck if I know”?

Let’s keep this Nordic skier daydream on track! You already have the skills it takes to be pro on the trails, so let’s apply those same tricks to brewing a pro cup of coffee that will start the day off with an early victory.

Here are five tips for great coffee, just for Nordies:

Tip 1

Nordic: You know that the quality of your gear matters. Good quality skis, fitted to your body height, weight, and skiing aspirations might help you bump up a wave in the Boulder Mountain Tour. If you’re rocking the random 90’s gear you got from your brother-in-law’s garage purge, it’s probably doing you no favors.

Coffee: Your coffee selection counts! Coffee is not just coffee. Beans range from bad to amazing. Specialty grade coffee is the top grade, and only about 10 percent of the world’s production. Within this grade there’s still great and so-so. That’s where your roaster comes in; taking the time to sample roast and taste different coffees, then only selecting the great stuff. Once you select a coffee that matches your desires, buy it fresh. Coffee stays freshest for about two weeks from its roasting date, so buy what you can enjoy in that time frame. If you buy old coffee, you can’t expect it to knock your socks off no matter where it comes from.

Tip 2

Nordic: Your ski bases need to be protected from the elements, so whether it’s summer storage, traveling to a race, or in-between sessions, you always have those thirsty skis covered in wax to keep them from drying out, and protected from damage.

Coffee: Taking care of your fresh coffee is just as important. Light, air, moisture, and heat are coffee’s enemies, so you want to keep those away. Store your daily supply at room temperature in an airtight, opaque container. Yes, right on your countertop or pantry. Never store your daily supplies in the refrigerator or freezer. If you’ve purchased more fresh coffee than you can consume in two weeks, the freezer can be an option. In that case, you can place the fresh coffee in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. The trip to the freezer is only a one-time event, so once you’re ready to consume it, remove the entire amount from freezer and use and store at room temperature as usual. If your coffee comes in a foil bag with a one-way degassing valve, that’s a great way to store your coffee. Just be sure to roll and secure the top between use to keep away its enemies.

Tip 3

Nordic: Depending on the snow conditions you plan to use your skis for, you can select a grind for the bases that will make them zippy fast. The skis you pick from your arsenal on a cold, dry day will have a fine texture, and that wet, spring snow will beg for a big, deep-rilled texture.

Coffee: The coffee grind should also match the conditions (meaning the coffee brew method). You want a fine grind for short brew cycles (like espresso machines), a medium grind for longer brew cycles (like drip machines), and a coarser grind for immersion brew (like press pots). The best type of grinder to use is a burr grinder, as it produces the most consistent and exact grind. Only grind what you need, right before brewing. The minute you grind your coffee, the aromas and oils, trapped in the beans under pressure, are released. You want to brew right away to get all those flavors in your cup. Purchasing pre-ground coffee, whether in a bag, can or pod, is not recommended, but sometimes the convenience might outweigh the loss of flavor.  

Tip 4

Nordic: You pick a wax plan based on the temperature, and texture of the day’s snow.  If you throw on the Toko Yellow when it’s six degrees out, that will probably send you back to the hut in defeat before the 2k mark.

Coffee: Water temperatures for any brew method should fall between 195-205F, so it’s important that your machine can produce these consistent temperatures from start to finish. If brewing with a manual method like pour over or press, note your area’s boiling temperature and go from there. (For example, sea level water boils at 212F, while Ketchum, Idaho water boils at 203F). Always brew using fresh, clean, filtered water. If the water you use tastes like old tires, so will your coffee.

Tip 5

Nordic: That grooming report has pointed you to the best trail, and the skis are buffed to perfection with today’s wax. All there is left to do is get out there and enjoy it! You relish in the feeling as you glide along the trail, taking in every uphill challenge, and every downhill reward. Yes, please.

Coffee: Pour that brewed coffee into a pre-warmed mug and get ready for giggles as you sip while it’s fresh and hot. Keep enjoying the flavors of each coffee origin as they change during the cooling process. Yum and yum.

Sometimes even with the best skill and preparation things don’t go as expected, so it’s a pretty good rule to avoid taking yourself too seriously on the trail or in your kitchen. If it didn’t work out this time, no worries!  You can learn from the experience and adjust next time. And really, no matter the weather, the wax, or what ends up in the cup, you know the best days are the ones that you get to ski alongside your friends, or sit together to share a giggle over coffee.

Liz Roquet is the owner and roaster at Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee in Ketchum, Idaho, a long-time sponsor of the Boulder Mountain Tour. Find more coffee tips and info about their nationwide shipping and coffee bar at  Lizzy’s is located at 410 10th Street, A-3 in Ketchum.

A special thanks for the expert contribution provided by SVSEF Gold Teamers Maddie Morgan & Adam Luban