“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, but still the same amount of snow.”
Are you spending the winter in the Great White North, lamenting our latest snowstorm and wondering why you aren’t in Florida or Arizona? Are you hunkered down on the couch, weathering the winter in the great indoors? Big mistake!
It used to be you’d stock up on firewood, surround yourself with some good books, and settle in for the winter. Or, just crank the furnace and binge on the tube. Well, you don’t have to do that anymore, because winter has never been more accessible and inviting. Our winter recreational sports scene is hot, and getting hotter. That craft beer from your favorite brew pub will taste even better after a day in the elements. If you’re not finding joy in the snow, that’s on you.
Bill Thompson, Co-Owner of Down Wind Sports is one of the many who enjoy our “off season” just as much as summer. “There is no doubt that winters in the U.P. can be long…..but that is a good thing! Getting out and playing in the snow is both good for your physical and mental health.”
According to Bill, “We are blessed to live in an area where we can enjoy a multitude of different activities.” Need some examples? How about Fat Tire Biking, Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Backcountry Skiing, Ice Climbing, Winter Camping, Kite Skiing … just to name a few, all within minutes of town. And that’s just the non-motorized stuff.
If you’re more into the event scene, that schedule is busting out of its snowsuit with something happening almost every weekend.
For those who like the thrill of competition, there are plenty of opportunities to test your skills.
Coming the weekend of February 10th, 11th, and 12th are the Marquette Winter Games, part of the Meijer State Games of Michigan. According to Executive Director Eric Engelbarts II, “We like to say ‘all ages and ability levels’ are welcome to participate in the Games. Either through sports participation or volunteering, we have something for everyone.”
Events like bowling, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, luge, ski and snowboarding, snowshoe, and wrestling give athletes a chance to show off their skills on a grand stage.
For more information, visit stategamesofmichigan.com/marquette-winter-games.
Want more? Next weekend is the 25th Annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon, one of the largest point-to-point ski marathons in America. You can still register to participate or, if you choose, volunteer, and get a close-up view of the action.
For more information about the Noquemanon and other area events visit travelmarquette.com.
Don’t feel like participating, but like watching those who do? Sounds like the Ishpeming Ski Club’s 136th Annual Ski Jumping Tournament is for you. It’s a great spectator sport, unless you’re so inclined to actually strap ‘em on and take your chances with gravity. Hence, the name of the facility… Suicide Hill. The phrase, “the agony of defeat” wasn’t coined because somebody missed a three-foot putt.
This year’s event, after a few years being contested mid-week, is back on the weekend… this weekend! In addition to featuring some of the country’s best jumpers, attendees can enjoy tailgating, bonfires, food trucks, the beer tent, fireworks and great views of all the action.
If you’re not familiar with the work of the Ishpeming Ski Club, know they’re involved in a lot more than just jumping. The official name of the facility, located on the old road between Negaunee and Ishpeming, is now the U.P. Nordic Ski Complex, a name which better reflects their commitment to the education and training in some of what we now know to be the “original” ski sports.
According to club representative Dick Ziegler, “The ISC Tournament is both a chance to bring ski jumping to the public, and a fund raising event that helps keep the ISC in good financial standing.” According to me, the ski jumping tournament is one of the area’s many colorful events which help make winter here almost as fun as summer. Almost.
Competitive jumping starts at 7pm both tonight and tomorrow night. To find out more, visit ishskiclub.com.
Speaking of unique events in which I’d rather spectate than participate, this year’s U.P. 200 slate of sled dog races is scheduled for February 16th through the 20th. If you haven’t witnessed the start in downtown Marquette, or any phase up to and including the finish, you’re not doing winter right. Find your long johns and click “going.” Get all the deets at up200.org.
For something with a little more horsepower you can check out the Upper Michigan Ice Races out in Gwinn. Motorcycles and four-wheelers goin’ tire to tire on the iced up oval. And you thought the roads in town were slippery. They race on Saturdays… all the info can be found at uppermichiganiceracing.com.
And finally, for those who just want to celebrate the snow, there’s the annual Heikki Lunta Winter Festival in Negaunee. Scheduled for February 3rd and 4th, this event includes all the fun and games you’d expect from our neighbors in Iron Town. You can find the full slate of activities at cityofnegaunee.com.
So, if you think winter’s no fun, you just have to change your thinking to… Winter Snow Fun!