Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau: Mt. Ashwabay hosts 17th Annual Summit Ski Race in Bayfield

Bayfield, Wis. (Jan. 13, 2023) — An abundance of snow in December has local nordic skiers out on the trails in droves and excited about the 2023 season.

The 17th annual Ashwabay Summit Nordic Ski Race will be held Saturday, February 4, and will showcase some of the most scenic segments of the 43k network of skate and classic cross-country ski trails at Mt. Ashwabay. The trail system draws cross-country skiers from throughout the region and from out-of-state due to reliable grooming, duration of snow cover, and world-class views from the top of the course.   

“We love the festive atmosphere of the Summit Race. It is really great to host so many visiting skiers and introduce them to our trails. And it is super impressive to witness the skill level of the top racers, as well as the sheer joy of the youth participants,” said Doug Olson, the Executive Director of Mt. Ashwabay.  

This race comes while Mt. Ashwabay Outdoor Recreation Area is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. The Summit Race is just one of many events that will be hosted at Mt. Ashwabay throughout the 2023 season.  

“The Summit race is so fun because of the small-town feeling, the unique chance to do a skiathlon, and getting to ski on the Ashwabay nordic trails, which are some of the best in the area,” said Ketzel Levens, who now travels from Duluth to participate in the race.  

New this year, the race has added a 30 kilometer skate event in place of the 15k skate race. The 30k skate course consists of two laps, climbing through mature stands of maple, hemlock and birch, to top out with views of Lake Superior, and finishing on the south side of the ridge down the new Buzz trail.  The 10K classic race and tour will take skiers up the Seagull Classic trail, past towering hemlocks, and up to the top for a view of the Lake.   

A 25K skiathlon pursuit will utilize both of those trails (classic first, then skate) with a switch of gear (on the clock) between laps. This format has gained in popularity and was featured as a Nordic event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.   

In addition to citizen races, the Northern Conference middle (3.5K) and high school (7.5K) races will take place starting at 9:30 a.m. This race attracts youth ski teams from across the region, including our local 4-H CANSKI middle school team, and high school varsity Chequamegon Area Nordic team. The unique opportunity to do a 25k skiathon pursuit race means the college division has grown quickly. Organizers expect well over 100 skiers from colleges across the midwest to participate in this conference event for The Midwest Collegiate Ski Association.   

The day will culminate with an outdoor awards ceremony, and the long tradition of awarding 45 locally made pies to age group winners has earned the event the nickname “The Great Pie Race.” It is the only event in the state that features all edible awards. Youth and college racers must pre-register with their team, or they can register individually online if they are not part of a team. Citizen racers can take advantage of early registration fees from $35-$45 before January 31. All funds raised benefit local non-profit organizations including the Ashwabay Outdoor Education Foundation, Bayfield Nordic, and 4H CANSki, our local youth cross-country skiing program.  

“This is a really festive and fun event and great way to support volunteer efforts that make our community a better place” says Doug Liphart, Extension’s 4-H and Youth Development Educator in Ashland County and one of the race organizers. 

Register today to enjoy edible prizes, scenic skiing trails, and a great community event. Or consider volunteering to help make the race a success. 

For additional information about the race, contact Scott Nesvold at 715-209-3584 or check out the website at

A special thanks to our sponsors for making this event happen: Peak Sponsors: Edmunds and Company, Howl Adventure Center, Black Cat Coffee Shop, and Sharptail Construction. Northern Lights Sponsors: Ashland Baking Company, Madeline Island Ferry Line, and Super One Foods. Herringbone Supporters: Beth and Doug Liphart, Donn and Ann Christensen.