Tag Archive for: Nordic Center

Our ski instructors at Turpin Meadow Ranch enjoy teaching guests of all ages and abilities. Several of them are proud to hold certifications from Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). They enjoy guiding, coaching, and encouraging guests while offering instruction on techniques endorsed by PSIA to advance their students in a safety-oriented environment. Our Lead Adventure Guide, Elee, explains how our guests benefit by taking lessons from PSIA certified instructors.

What is PSIA?

It’s the biggest certifier of snow sports including cross-country skiing. We must pass rigorous testing and curriculum in order to be certified and there are multiple levels of certifications to achieve. There are only about 32,000 individuals who hold PSIA certifications.
Professional Ski Instructors of America’s mission, as part of the ski and snowboard industry, is to help develop instructors and their students’ personally and professionally, create positive learning experiences, and encourage all to have more fun.

What Can Our Guests Expect When Taking Lessons from a PSIA Certified Ski Instructor?

A PSIA certified ski instructor not only knows how to ski but how to teach it so that guests learn safely and have fun doing it. When they take lessons from us, they’re not just getting a recreational hobbyist. We’re vetted, certified, and have been checked out by meeting and passing rigorous programs that cover not just our own competency of the sport but also how to instruct it.

In fact, at the heart and focus of the PSIA certification is the guest. To graduate from the first level of the program, a multi-page assessment and observations of our skills and personal engagement abilities are taken over several days at the end of each level’s program that covers topics like our teaching skills, personal skills, and guest interactions.

It means we know how to create a safe environment and can help advance guests’ ability in the sport in ways that are fun every step of the way whether it is their first or 70th time.

How do PSIA Instructors Benefit Kids?

PSIA trained instructors are specialized to teach children. Making sure kiddos always have fun is key in building confidence, improving skills, and level-up their appreciation of the sport so they’ll want to keep doing it. Any parent knows this is important for kids and a different approach is necessary to teach them new and technical skills.

Do Adults Also Benefit from Learning from PSIA Certified Instructors?

Absolutely! To become PSIA certified, we must show a deep understanding and capability of the sport and how to teach it. This means we can adapt lessons to fit each guest’s needs and goals. And let’s be frank, it’s important for adults to have fun doing it, too.

Here at the Ranch, we have instructed first-timers who want to try Classic and/or Skate skiing for the first time to see if it makes sense to invest in their own equipment, to lifelong ski enthusiasts who want to become better at the sport, and even competitive racers seeking to improve their techniques to win their races. We make sure everyone meets their goals and has a fun time doing it!

A vacation is a great time to try something new. You’re generally more relaxed and open to new ideas and experiences. This holds especially true at the ranch with so many adventures waiting right outside your cabin door.

If you’re visiting us with your children, winter presents the perfect opportunity to expose those little ones to Nordic skiing if they haven’t given it a try. It’s a great family activity that let’s everyone enjoy the outdoors.

“We’ve got the equipment, the location and the ideal atmosphere for letting your kids experience Nordic skiing for the first time,” said Ron Stiffler, our manager at the ranch.

The Ideal Setting

Guests at the ranch don’t have far to walk to the ski hut, grab their gear and hit our 20 km of trails. We groom our trails daily, giving beginners a smooth surface for the best experience.

The trails are expansive enough that you won’t feel like you’re getting in the way of others and you’ll have a variety of terrains to explore.

A Teachable Moment

The beauty of Nordic skiing for kids is that the lesson, and we’re using that word loosely, is very simple. Nordic skiing utilizes the basic motion of walking, something your kids already know how to do.

Plus, you’re not reaching speeds of downhill skiing so if you’re little ones do fall, it’s not going to hurt them.

Focus on Fun

Another reason we think of teaching in air quotes, is that it’s best to not make that first Nordic skiing adventure too series. Give them the basics and get out of the way. Let them have fun and experiment with skiing the way they want to try.

We’d also encourage you to think about skipping the poles or at least let them try without them. At such a young age, poles aren’t a real necessity.

Keep it Short

Let your child’s age and interest level dictate how long you’re out on the trails. It’s better to leave a bit earlier so your child views the adventure as something enjoyable rather than something they’re being forced to do.

Free Ski Day

If you’re around on Jan. 7th, 2024 consider coming by to be part of the Jackson Hole Nordic Alliance’s Free Ski, Fat Bike & Snowshoe Day. This annual event has become a great gathering for the community to visit the ranch, hit the trails for free and try out skis, fat bikes and snowshoes from our amazing partners.

The free day has grown from a humble gathering to one of the more anticipated community events in the Jackson Hole area. You’re guaranteed to have fun and the focus is definitely on families so you’re kids will have plenty of others to play with on the trail.


The early morning sun rises over the ranch, casting a soft glow in the sky as the first skiers head out for early morning runs on our freshly groomed 20 km of Nordic trails.

They probably don’t give much thought to what goes into making the trail surface that perfect corduroy look and smooth surface. Even if they did they probably didn’t realize it started months ago by our team of trail experts and ski fanatics.

“We get excited once we’ve laid the tracks and we get people up here to play in the snow,” said Elee Deschu, one of our expert outfitters and member of the trail grooming team. “It’s a great workout and a lot of fun.”

Early Pre-Season Prep

The winter trail work that Deschu and her husband, Aaron, perform begins in the summer when they’re busy guiding guests on horse rides. In the summer, the ski trails double as the route for horseback riders to explore our beautiful country.

The Deschus pay attention during those rides for downed tree limbs and other debris that needs to be cleared. They’ll come back after the rides to clear away anything that has fallen and to regularly trim back the foliage.

First Snow

Once Mother Nature transitions to the winter, Elee Deschu said it’s a waiting game for enough snow to accumulate. They want a base of 18 to 20 inches of snow. We could leave it alone and let skiers forge their own path. But that makes for a less than ideal experience. Skiing on a trail that isn’t groomed is especially tiring. It’s also a bit dangerous since cross country skis aren’t made for handling powdery snow.

By Thanksgiving or early December, enough snow for a base has arrived. That kicks off a two-step process that begins by sing a PistenBully, which is the same type of snow groomer you see at Alpine ski resorts. The PistenBully is used to compact the snow, push out the air and create that base layer.

It usually takes two or three runs to complete the process and is dependent on the consistency of the snow. Deschu said heavy and wet snow coming from the Pacific Northwest compacts easier compared to drier snow coming north from Utah.

“We’re shooting for a nice even layer on the entire system where nothing is exposed,” Deschu said. “It’s as much art form as it is science.”

Daily Grooming

This is where we set ourselves apart from other trail systems in the area. With the base layer set, a Viking snowmobile becomes the primary machine to fine tune the trails. It drags a Ginzu Groomer, which is a combo tool. The teeth on the Ginzu till up the snow that is then smoothed over into the corduroy pattern by a mat.

The timing of the daily grooming depends on the snow conditions and temperature. If the overnight temperature is going to really drop, the team grooms at night. If they wait until the morning, they risk the chance that the snow will be too cold and crystalized balls would form.

Normal temperatures or a forecast of heavy overnight snow dictates the grooming will be done early in the morning.

Freshly Groomed Trails Make for the Best Skiing

The daily groomed trail is a draw for guests at the ranch and day visitors who visit for the varied terrain and smooth conditions. Deschu said while skiers might not give much thought to the process, they appreciate the results.

“When I’ve groomed when people are out there they’ll wave and want to talk,” she said. “I kind of feel like the Pied Piper because everybody wants to follow you on the fresh trail.”

Did you know that Turpin Meadow Ranch features an Olympian-designed Nordic ski track that stretches over 20km? The trails are popular with locals, who often stop by for an afternoon of skiing and stay into the evening for world-class dining and cocktails at the newly renovated historic lodge.

Designed by two former Olympic Nordic and Biathlon skiers, Hans and Nancy Johnstone, the ranch’s Nordic ski track expands across seven connected loops that show you different perspectives of the Grand Tetons and local landscape. The Johnstones are Jackson Hole locals and have experienced the thrill of many first ski descents in the Grand Tetons. The trails are described by one visitor as “a well-groomed trail system with trails for any level of cross country skier. A great way to spend a day in a remote corner of the Tetons.”

Even better – there are 10 other tracks minutes away where locals go to explore the refreshing winter wilderness of Jackson Hole. Ranging in length from five miles to 14, it is easy to hit the trails and get a taste of what it means to be a true Jackson Hole local.