Navigate Northwest Nordic runs like a pro

October 29, 2006 

U.S. cross-country skier Torin Koos competes in the qualifying round of the men’s cross-country sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Koos grew up in Leavenworth, spending his winters skiing at Northwest sites. He still returns to the region to test his skills.


The first time Torin Koos tried cross-country skiing, he remembers screaming and crying.

He was 5, and his parents, both avid Nordic skiers, took him to the Leavenworth Golf Course for a lesson. While the sport is in the family’s blood – Koos’ dad, Shaun, was a member of the U.S. Biathlon team in 1978 and 1979 – the first lesson was still a challenge.

“But I think I picked it up pretty quickly,” Koos said, “and I basically grew up on my skis.”

Koos, 26, definitely has the sport mastered now. He finished 36th in both the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

This weekend he’s starting his World Cup season in Duesseldorf, Germany, as he gears up for his fourth Nordic World Ski Championships.

Koos grew up in the Leavenworth area before going to the University of Utah to ski and run cross-country. At Cascade High School, he skied 10 times a week.

“I trained as much as I could,” Koos said. “I’d even do a double on Sundays a lot of the time.”

Along the way, Koos got a pretty good feel for the Northwest Nordic scene.

While he lives in Utah where the U.S. Ski Team trains, he still loves skiing in the Northwest.

And while he’s skied all over the world, he says the best places in the Northwest are still some of his favorites.

Here’s where he suggests you take your skis.


By the time Koos gets back to Leavenworth after his season, most of the lower-level tracks have melted out for the season. When that happens, he likes to go to the Stevens Pass Nordic Center and its 28 kilometers of groomed trails.

“It’s a great place to put in a few hours,” Koos said. “They do a great job with the grooming.”


The 26 kilometers around Leavenworth are Koos’ favorite place to train.

“I especially like the Ski Hill because of the rolling terrain and the fact that it is lit for night skiing,” Koos said. “It is one of the top three places in Washington.”


With more than 135 kilometers of trails, this is easily Washington’s Nordic skiing mecca.

“It is epic,” Koos said. “Most places you go you are mostly skiing loops. Here you can do a lot of point-to-point skiing, where you park a car at each end of the trail. You actually feel like you are going somewhere.”


Koos doesn’t get here much, but says he enjoys the 25 kilometers of groomed trails when he visits.


The Nordic skiing at Bachelor starts at 6,000 feet above sea level, making it a bit more challenging than most places.

“It’s a good workout, but mostly I like the fact that Bend is such a great ski community,” Koos said. “That, and in the spring this area has the best crust skiing I’ve ever seen.”


Koos’ coach and a few teammates live in Sun Valley, so he enjoys the terrain in an area best known for its Alpine slopes. Most of his time on the tracks here have been for races with the national team.


Koos’ favorite place to ski here is the Little Ski Hill. It might be little as far as alpine skiers are concerned, but it has 50 kilometers of Nordic trails.


If you are going to leave the country on a ski trip, Koos recommends Davos, Switzerland. If that’s too far, Silver Star in British Columbia is one of his favorites. Last season Koos finished 14th in a World Cup race at Silver Star.

“Silver Star is a special place,” Koos said. “You won’t find too many places better.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497

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