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Cross-country skiing grows in popularity

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Doug Bentley, left, follows Theron Selover, 11, during a cross-country skiing outing at Lime Hollow Nature Center in this file photo.

Outdoor sports enthusiasts have begun to see interest in skiing and snowshoeing increase in recent years.

At Action Sports, located at 64 Pendleton St. in Cortland, co-owner Lisa Belknap said she has seen an increase in the use of fat bikes.

“Last year we didn’t have as much snow so it was a perfect year for them,” said Belknap, who owns the business with her husband, Matt.

Fat bikes are similar to regular bikes with the only difference being a larger, wider tire, Lisa Belknap said. “It’s a beefier tire.”

The bikes have become popular within the past five years and Action Sports has had them in stock for three years now, Belknap said. The larger surface area of the tires allows the bikes to travel on softer surfaces, like snow and sand.

Electric bikes with fat bike tires have also become popular. The store got the electric bikes last year, Belknap said. The electric bikes are similar to the non-electric ones but assisted by an electric motor, although the rider can still pedal, she said.

Another trend Belknap said she has seen is an increase in the demand for cross-country skis.

Sales for the skis depend on the weather, Belknap said. “If we have snow, then people come in for them,” she said.
Belknap said she also sees an uptick in the use of snowshoes.

Once again, Belknap said sales in snowshoes are also weather related. However, they also assist with training and she has seen a lot of customers who are runners buy snowshoes to train in the winter for cross country and track.

Another popular use for the snowshoes that Belknap has heard of is assisting people with tapping trees and collecting sap during maple syrup season.

Belknap said she hopes the upcoming season is ideal for skiing, with ample snowfall.

At SUNY Cortland, Jason Harcum said he has also seen heightened interest in skiing and snowshoeing.

Harcum, assistant director of recreation sports for the Outdoor Pursuits program, said the college offers 36 pairs of cross country skis and another 36 pairs of snowshoes for rent.

Harcum said the department is looking into taking day trips to the Adirondacks for skiing and snowshoeing. “It would be something to get students out for a day,” Harcum said.

Other day trips for skiing and snowshoing include Bear Swamp in Moravia and Highland Forest County Park in Fabius, Harcum said, which will be offered by the Recreation Sports Department’s Outdoor Pursuits program.

Plans to also take skiing and snowshoeing trips to the college’s outdoor recreation center at Raquette Lake are in the works, Harcum said.

Those trips will be separate from the annual trip that certain college staff and students in the Recreation Department take, he said.

An increase in skiing and snowshoe activity has also been on the rise at Lime Hollow Nature Center at 338 McLean Road, Cortlandville.

When there is snow, the center has a steady flow of skiers and people looking to snowshoe, said Glenn Reisweber, the nature center’s executive director.

Since 2006 the center has experienced an increase in the number of people looking to ski or snowshoe, Reisweber said. This interest even prompted the center to install a cross-country trail around 2009 with the help of Seven Valleys Health Coalition, Reisweber said.

He connects the interest in these sports to the availability of options nearby, like at the nature center. “People don’t have to go as far as Highland Forest or Bear Swamp,” Reisweber said.

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