The Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club will cancel the Moose Chase Nordic ski race this year, eliminating one of the three athletic events that until now made up the annual Triple Crown series.
Between the strenuous terrain and dearth of infrastructure at Trail Creek, where the race has been hosted, “it’s not super conducive to a Nordic marathon,” said Brian Krill, executive director of the Ski and Snowboard Club. That made fundraising and enrollment difficult, and the club’s board of directors decided to pull the Moose Chase offline until it can be revamped.
Club officials have also decided to run the two remaining competitions in the Triple Crown — the Pole Pedal Paddle and the Jackson Hole Downhill — not as a series but as individual events. Similar to the removal of the Moose Chase, Krill said, the new strategy is an attempt to improve fundraising and enrollment.
“That’s kind of the thread throughout all these changes,” he said. “It’s not that we’re not willing to put the effort in on these events; we just want the efforts to have a higher benefit to the club.”
Each of the three races is a decades-old staple of community competition in Jackson Hole, but for most of their histories they existed in silos. It’s only in recent years that the Ski and Snowboard Club has branded them as a unit.
“That was a move to kind of breathe life into these events,” Krill said. “I think it did on a minor level, but it just didn’t really make a huge impact.”
Because the events are so different from one another, he hypothesized, not many people entered all three. And to market them as a cohesive series introduced a new set of challenges that eventually proved inefficient.
Apparently, combining them “required significant capacity and marketing to produce, but ultimately limited the return for each individual event rather than adding to it,” according to a news release. The series structure didn’t increase fundraising or attendance.
These announcements mark the second set of major changes to Triple Crown events in recent months. In September, club officials said they would move the Town Downhill, which has taken place on Snow King since 1982, to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and rename it the Jackson Hole Downhill.
Amid so many shifts in Jackson Hole’s athletic tradition, Krill said that “none of these decisions are always and forever.” He said the club hopes to find a better model for the Nordic race and bring it back by next year.
In the meantime the club will pour more time and energy into the downhill and the PPP, Krill said, and dedicate more resources to programs for its 500 or so student athletes.
“With these three being long-standing legacy events, we want to carry them forward, but we want to do it right,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward.”