Mammoth Nordic hosts film festival, gets ready for cross country ski season

’Tis the season to get psyched.

Mammoth Nordic got the energy and anticipation flowing last weekend as the hosts of the “Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcoutry Film Festival: Celebrating the human powered experience.”

There was the requisite eye-candy: the big names hucking big-on-big lines in interesting places you and I may never go (or for many locals: already have!)—but you sit, nonetheless, on the edge of your seat, eyes big and jaw slightly agape, thinking of your own big lines for this year.

But what really set this winter film festival apart were the films about the ordinary, extraordinary, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming.

There was the story of a world-class freeskier’s accident that put him in a wheelchair—then a sit ski—only to become a champion sit ski racer and push the boundaries of possibility, eventually taking his chair into his beloved freeride terrain.

Then there was a short monologue from a pair of old friends skiing across the Alaska wilderness in a true adventure race, punctuated with comical shots of balloon-shaped, homemade down pants and the post-race beer that one racer almost fell asleep in, mid-conversation.

Brian Knox, the man behind it all, announced a few big changes for Mammoth Nordic this year: most notably, that he will be with them, now, in a full-time capacity.

“It was time to fire myself,” Knox said, speaking of his day job, “and commit myself to taking the next step.”

This year, he promises more groomed trails on the free Community Nordic Trail System at Shady Rest (find the trailhead at the Welcome Center!), and full-time staff presence on the trail system. His days will often start as early as 4 a.m. so the tracks are ready as soon as people arrive.

But the trail-grooming, Knox explained, is only the tip of the iceberg of what Mammoth Nordic is up to.
As a Nordic advocacy group, the foundation is busy establishing permissions for their projects and getting the word out via fundraiser events.

The film festival announced the start of this year’s raffle: a trip to the Sun Valley Nordic Festival, in Sun Valley, Idaho. Holding the title of Nordic Town, USA, the idea is to send the lucky winners on an expenses-paid vacation to Sun Valley, a community with a thriving Nordic trail system and a strong cross-country ski culture.

Last year’s winners won a trip to the Methow Valley in Washington, another epic cross-country ski destination.

Knox also announced they will be starting SnowSchool this January, where they will be taking more than 100 first graders from Mammoth Lakes on snowshoe adventures, teaching them the wonders of winter ecology and quiet winter sports: all equipment (and snacks!) provided by Mammoth Nordic.

All of this for the simple idea, “that making our town a better place to live is the simplest way to make it a better place to visit.”

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