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West Yellowstone Ski Festival cancelled due to a lack of snow

Skiers line up at the annual cross-country ski festival in West Yellowstone on November 26, 2019.
Rachel Cramer
Yellowstone Public Radio
Skiers line up at the annual cross-country ski festival in West Yellowstone on November 26, 2019.

A lack of snow has led to the cancellation of a time-honored Nordic ski festival in West Yellowstone. It’s only the second time in 30 years organizers have been forced to cancel the event.

A couple thousand people from across North America annually descend on West Yellowstone during Thanksgiving week to kick off their Nordic ski season.

Highlights of the West Yellowstone Ski Festival include competitive races, clinics, classes and comradery.

All of it is off the table this year.

“We’ve had warmer temps and so there’s no snow on the ground,” Melissa Alder said.

Alder helps organize the festival and is co-owner of a local cross-country ski and bicycle shop. Alder said the West Yellowstone Ski Fest was scrubbed for the first time ever just two years ago.

“There’s definitely been a shift in the weather in the last ten years that we’ve noticed and it’s getting harder and harder for us to count on having that snow early on,” Alder said.

Alder told MTPR the decision to cancel such a big local event is heartbreaking.

“Major bummer, yeah. I think people don’t realize how much of an impact this week has on the community until we don’t have it,” Alder said.

Alder said the festival typically accounts for a quarter to a third of her entire winter business. Adding the community-wide economic repercussions are huge.

Despite the cancellation of the West Yellowstone Ski Festival, locals say there’s no shortage of dry land fun to be had, with plenty of cycling, roller skiing and hiking opportunities.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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