Even though it may feel like spring is around the corner, March is Colorado’s snowiest month. There is still plenty of skiing to do whether you choose to downhill, AT or Nordic. Boulder Nordic Sport is the premiere place to get all your gear whether you skate or classic ski. In 2012, the store began carrying AT gear to cater to the ever-growing sector of ski mountaineering enthusiasts.
RootsRated caught up with Nathan Schultz to talk about why he opened Boulder Nordic Sport and what the shop has to offer.
Why did you start the store?
I started Boulder Nordic Sport because I saw the need for high-level service for the cross-country market. I raced as a junior, NCAA skier and then professional from 1997-2006. In that time I traveled all over the country and did clinics and camps for skiers which made me aware of the huge need that people have to help decipher the technical details of our sport. I wanted to bring the same level of service I received as an elite-level skier to the general public.
What kind of customer do you cater to (beginner, racers etc.)?
Our goal is to help people have fun skiing. Obviously, we specialize in racing because that is our background, but we also help a lot of beginners get into the sport. Many general sports stores don’t have staff that has experience XC skiing, so they don’t do a great job fitting people with the appropriate gear. We are able to get beginners the right equipment and point them in the right direction, which makes the sport a lot easier out of the gate and therefore more fun.
Can you talk about when you started carrying SkiMo (AT) gear too and why?
We started carrying alpine touring gear in our Boulder store in 2012. The new gear that has come out in the past three to four years has transformed that sport and opened up the backcountry to a lot of new people. Our employees have been drawn to this segment, so it made sense for us to bring in the racing and fast and light gear because these skiers were a bit underserved in our geographical area.
It’s crazy to see how fast this sport is growing. We are trying to keep up with it and provide the same level of service and knowledge that has made us successful in XC.
What is your SkiMo background? How did you get started?
I started skiing a bit late, in high school, when my friends on the cross-country running team convinced me to join them on our local junior ski team. I spent a season getting last place
My friend, Peter Swenson, dragged me into SkiMo. He and I raced together on bike teams and he has been at the forefront of the SkiMo racing scene. I helped him with a web site for the Colorado SkiMo Series (COSMIC) and he kept talking about how I would be really good at the sport, so I tried it out at A-Basin. Swenson was the race organizer and had just set the course, so I asked him if I should carry water and he said, “No, it will be 1:15 max.” It was really hot that day and I ended up going from leading the race at the top of the first hill, to limping into the finish after 2.5 hours of struggling. While that was not the most fun I’ve ever had racing, I’ve jumped into a few more races since then. Given my fitness is not stellar, I prefer to tour in the backcountry, and spend a lot of time wandering around out there when things slow down in the shop in early March.
What makes Colorado a great place to Nordic and for SkiMo?
The huge number of professional Nordic centers that are run by passionate skiers really sets Colorado apart as a place to cross-country ski. There are so many different types of experiences from the rustic luxury of Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Latigo Ranch or The Home Ranch, to the high-altitude austerity of Grand Mesa. We have good, reliable snow, lots of trails and sun, all set in beautiful areas.
For SkiMo, the accessibility of getting into the backcountry quickly is really the best part of what Colorado offers. SkiMo is by far the best in February-May, and Colorado’s weather, combined with the easy access into the wilderness is pretty amazing. I grew up here, but the sheer beauty of the mountains often startles me as I take my skins off to descend.
What are your favorite places to Nordic in Colorado and why? Where do you Ski Mountaineer?
Colorado has tremendous resources for skiing. I can’t think of any XC ski center that I don’t like. My list of favorites has to include Devil’s Thumb Ranch, especially since I got the opportunity to help design some of their trails in 2005. Snow Mountain Ranch also tops the list with DTR, and it is amazing to have two Nordic centers within 10 miles of each other that each have such extensive trail systems with incredible variety. Frisco, Breckenridge, Steamboat, Telluride, Aspen and Grand Mesa all have amazing places to ski as well. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, too.
For ski mountaineering, I enjoy our local Indian Peaks in the spring, as well as Summit County. I’m looking forward to this spring as my shop work slows down, and I can get out and explore some new areas.
For more info about Boulder Nordic Sport, head to: https://www.bouldernordicsport.com.
Photos: credit Chris Milliman for the skiing photo and Michael Robson for the in-shop photo.