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Duluth ski group closer to goal for new Grand Avenue Nordic Center

Duluth cross-country skiers are getting closer to seeing the city's first trail with snowmaking capabilities.

The Duluth Cross-Country Ski Club (DXC) has raised $310,000 toward its goal of $500,000 for the Grand Avenue Nordic Center, said Annalisa Peterson, DXC president.

The group, with more than 500 members, hopes to reach its goal by the end of February.

The money, along with $1 million pledged by the city of Duluth, will be used to build a 3.3-kilometer (2.5-mile) lighted cross-country ski trail with snowmaking capabilities at the base of the Spirit Mountain ski hill. The trail would offer an additional 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) of trail with natural snow.

A connector trail would link the trail to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of existing Spirit Mountain cross-country ski trails at the top of the ski hill.

With the city's contributions and those of DXC, the project is expected to move forward this spring, Peterson said. "The goal is for snowmaking to go in by fall 2017," she said.

With Spirit Mountain's Grand Avenue Chalet already in place at the base of the hill, the new ski trail could be used for many events, Peterson said. Although Duluth has several city cross-country ski trails and the private Snowflake Nordic center, the Grand Avenue trail would offer skiers other options, Peterson said. "Certainly, the snowmaking capability gives us consistent, dependable snow when we have cold conditions (cold enough to make snow)," Peterson said. "It will help Duluth high school skiers and school field-trip groups. And nowhere else in Duluth is there a comprehensive event center (for skiing) with a stadium area and a place for people to gather."

The trail, to be lighted with 'dark sky' LED lighting, would be easily accessible to West Duluth skiers and on a bus route.

Spirit Mountain will manage the new ski trail, and a fee, yet to be determined, will be charged. No Great Minnesota Ski Pass would be required.

Peterson said she expects the trail to be used by high school ski teams and others who love to ski.

"And we're hoping that this will be a facility that would expand skiing to people who don't ski at all," she said.

The next closest cross-country ski trails with snowmaking capabilities are at Mt. Itasca Winter Sports Center near Coleraine and on several trails in the Twin Cities.

How to donate

• On the DXC website at duluthxc.com/donate, lump sum or month-by-month.

• Send a check to DXC, 1346 West Arrowhead Road, PMB344, Duluth, MN 55811

Contributions are tax-deductible

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