Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener

Saturday, December 11, 2021

9 AM–4 PM

Elm Creek Park Reserve
12400 James Deane Parkway
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Embrace winter by celebrating cross-country skiing at the Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener! Skiers of all abilities and ages are invited to kick off winter with free skiing, free ski rental equipment and free mini lessons. Participate in the Ski Tour with routes for the whole family, and check out the Nordic Market with representatives from 50 Nordic ski suppliers, resorts, retails and clubs. 

This is a FREE event. The first 1,500 visitors to the Nordic Ski Market receive a free buff!

An instructor teaches a small group of people how to cross-country ski.


All activities are held outside, both on and off the snow, so dress for the weather!

  • Free Nordic skiing on Elm Creek Park Reserve’s manufactured snow loop
  • Free Nordic ski rentals, including sit-skis for adapted skiers
  • Free Classic Technique mini-lessons by Three Rivers Park instructors (drop in all day)
  • Free Skate Technique mini-lessons provided by The Loppet Foundation instructors (10 AM to 2 PM)
  • Free hot chocolate courtesy of REI Co-op (while supplies last)
  • Minnesota Youth Ski League Kids Area (10 AM to 2 PM)
  • Participate in Skaði’s Chase — 8K or 4K
  • Ski with Goldy (11:30 AM)
  • Visit the Nordic Ski Market 
  • Visit Sauna Village
  • Sign up for 2021-22 ski passes

Ski Tour — All Day

a dad helping his daughter ski.

Join Minnesota’s first official ski of the year! Time yourself or take a leisurely ski on Elm Creek's 2.5K of manufactured snow. If you need skis, stop by the rental areas to take advantage of free rentals!

10 AM Group Ski for Adapted Skiers

At 10 AM, join us for a leisurely group ski for adapted skiers led by a Three Rivers staff member. Adapted skiers are welcome all day; sit-skis will be available. Participants needing assistance with transfers will need a household member to assist.

Nordic Ski Market — 9 AM–3 PM

Enjoy Minnesota’s largest Nordic ski expo! Outfit yourself for the season, sign up for races, find out about Minnesota resorts and clubs, learn about ski waxing, and sign up for door-prize drawings. The first 1,500 visitors to the Nordic Ski Market receive a free buff!

Kids Area — 10 AM–2 PM

Visit the Minnesota Youth Ski League ‘Kids Area’ from 10am to 2pm,  Kids ages 4-12 can test their skills on an obstacle course built by our great partner MYSL!

Sauna Village — 9 AM–3 PM

A fun day of skiing is never complete without a Nordic sauna and ice bath. New this year: Learn about the growing mobile sauna community in Minnesota.

Free sauna experiences will be provided by Nomad Sauna and Little Ember Co.

Twenty-minute private saunas will be available for groups of 4-8 people. Stop by the Sauna Village when you arrive to sign up for your time slot. Signup is on a first-come, first-served basis. Sauna participants will need to bring a bathing suit, towel and sandals.


Parking at Elm Creek Park Reserve

Shuttle service from Elm Creek to the chalet will run from 7 AM until 5 PM. Park District employees will direct you where to park and catch the shuttle.

Parking at Fairview

Overflow parking is available just a few minutes from Elm Creek at M Health Fairview Clinic, 14500 99th Ave. N., Maple Grove.

Shuttle buses will run from 9 AM to 5 PM. Please park in the NORTHEAST CORNER of the parking lot, closest to 610 and Fernbrook Lane N.  A "Shuttle Stop" sign will be along the service road on the eastern edge of the parking lot.

Dog Policy

The safety of event guests and dogs is the highest priority. To ensure everyone’s safety we ask guests to follow the event’s dog guidelines.

  • Dogs are not allowed on snow, on shuttles or in buildings.
  • Dogs must be kept on a 6’ leash.
  • Owners must pick up after their dogs and dispose of waste properly.
  • Dogs must always be always kept under control.
  • Guests with aggressive dogs may be asked to leave the event.

Skaði’s Chase — 8 AM

A woman competes in a cross-country ski race. Other racers can be seen in the distance behind her.

About the Race

Welcome winter with Skaði (Skaw-Dee), Norse goddess of skiers, in Skaði’s Chase Nordic ski race. Choose from 8K or 4K distances.

8K Race – 8 AM

The 8K freestyle race starts at 8 AM with four classes: Adult men's and women's (18+) and high school boys and girls (ages 12-18). The first 150 racers to register will receive a commemorative cloth bib. All racers will receive a Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener buff and entry into the Skaði’s Chase prize drawing.

4K Race – 8:45 AM

The 4K freestyle race starts at 8:45 AM with four classes: boys and girls high school (ages 16-18) and boys and girls middle school (ages 12-15). All racers will receive a Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener buff and entry into the Skaði’s Chase prize drawing. 

Registration and Fees

Skaði’s Chase registration is now open!

8K Race

Save by registering online by Dec. 8. Race-day registration is also available beginning at 7 AM. 

  • $25 pre-registration (online registration closes at 11:59 PM on December 8)
  • $35 race-day registration

4K Race

Save by registering online by December 8. Race-day registration is also available beginning at 7 AM. 

  • $15 pre-registration (online registration closes at 11:59 PM on December 8)
  • $25 race-day registration

Awards – 9:30 AM

The prestigious Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener Loon Award will be presented to the top finisher in each category:

  • 8K — men’s and women’s; boys and girls high school (12-18)
  • 4K — boys and girls high school (16-18); boys and girls middle school (12-15)

Random door prize drawings for both races will be also be awarded. 

Race Results

Become a Partner

The goal of the Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener is to bring together the entire Minnesota Nordic ski community to celebrate Nordic skiing in Minnesota. If you are interested in being a Minnesota Nordic Ski Opener partner, please email us at SponsorshipOpportunities@threeriversparks.org.


Volunteer as a greeter, help out in the rental building, be a "ski buddy" and help people as they try skiing for the first time, or help out with something else. To learn more or sign up, call 763-559-6706 or email us

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