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A panel of experts nominated three Nordic ski areas near Bozeman for a national award ranking the best cross-country ski venues in North America.

Crosscut Mountain Sports Center near Bozeman, Lone Mountain Ranch near Big Sky and Rendezvous Ski Trails near West Yellowstone are all candidates in the “best cross-country ski resort” category of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards competition.

Jonathan Wiesel, one of the five experts tasked with nominating Nordic ski areas for the contest, said it’s the first time three Bozeman-area resorts have been selected for the category. It’s also the first time Crosscut has been nominated.

“We are thrilled to be nominated amongst this impressive group of established nordic centers. And, to be honest, we were a bit surprised to be included just four years after our founding,” wrote Jen Beaston, Crosscut’s executive director, in a statement. “We are grateful to be a part of such a giving community that values the outdoors and are optimistic for our future.”

Rendezvous has been a candidate “for many years” and Lone Mountain Ranch “nearly every year,” Wiesel said. Readers have until Nov. 9 to vote on their favorite of the 20 candidates, which include resorts in other states and provinces.

Experts and editors nominate 20 candidates for the Readers’ Choice Awards in a variety of categories, which change every other week. Readers have 28 days to vote on their favorite candidate in each category. The list is then narrowed down to 10 and ranked based on votes.

Categories during this awards cycle include “best ski town,” “best ski resort” and “best cross-country ski resort.” Bridger Bowl Ski Area is in the running for “best ski resort” in North America.

“It’s a fun project that reaches out to a lot of non-skiers,” Wiesel said. “I love this sport and the people involved with it. It’s a great way to get businesses supported.”

Wiesel, a Bozeman resident and a Nordic ski area consultant and journalist, said he took the quality of skiing, grooming, setting, amenities and most importantly, the people into account when selecting his candidates.

“People are really the thing that makes (cross-country skiing) a phenomenal, warm sport,” he said.

Wiesel said he anticipated the pandemic would spark a boom in the number of people who turn to the sport this year.

“This year it’s going bonkers in popularity,” he said. “It’s a chaotic time, but also a fascinating time.”

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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