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Cross-Country Skiers Bask in Thundersnow as 'Fantastic' Season Ends

By Sam Cholke | February 18, 2014 8:37am
 Cross-country skiers predicted Monday's thundersnow would mark the end of one of the best ski seasons in Chicago in nearly a decade.
Cross-Country Skiers
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HYDE PARK — Monday was likely the close of one of the best cross-country skiing seasons Chicago has seen in nearly a decade.

“I’m expecting slop” on Tuesday, said Dennis Koehn, who was out Monday afternoon to ski around Promontory Point and 57th Street Beach during a big winter storm that included the rare "thundersnow."

Temperatures are expected rise by nearly 20 degrees on Tuesday, turning much of the snow into a slurry unfit for skiing.

“You don’t want wet snow — the important thing for us is it stays snow, and it doesn’t melt,” said Andrew Kirby, the organizer of cross-country skiing for the Lakeshore Ski and Sports Club.

While many Chicagoans complained about the consistently low temperatures and heavy snow since early January, Kirby said it's been the best winter for cross-country skiing in nearly 10 years.

“It was a fantastic year — lots of snow,” Kirby said, adding that nearly every weekend for a month-and-a-half was perfect for skiing.

Kirby said interest in the sport spiked this year as consistently snowy conditions gave more people a chance to go out to the lakefront and try skiing.

The lakeshore was a testament to the ideal conditions. The parallel tracks of skis and pocks from poles crisscrossed Promontory Point in Hyde Park Monday and much of the lakefront up to Marovitz Golf Course in Lakeview.

“This was a great winter,” said Anita Orlikoff, who was out doing a loop around Promontory Point on Monday. “Some winters you only get three times to go out if you’re lucky.”

She also expected Monday to be her last good ski day of the season, but hoped the milder weather predicted for the rest of February would mean early spring flowers.

Temperatures are predicted to climb to a high of 43 on Thursday and remain above freezing during the day for the remainder of the week, according to the National Weather Service.