Over the past 50+ years, John “Morty” Morton has cross-country skied around the world, been an international-caliber racer and coach, and, as far as I’m concerned (this is homage from a friendly competitor), is the premier Nordic ski trail designer in North America.

Morty has seen dramatic evolutions in the sport – from wood skis to synthetic, wool to spandex, the introduction of skate technique, grooming snowmobiles replaced by snowcats, narrow trails sometimes giving way to highways, etc. Over these years, he served in Vietnam, taught high school English, and has served as broadcast journalist and newspaper columnist.

Now he’s written Celebrate Winter, a book filled with anecdotes and insights based on his intriguing life. It’s his third book, preceded by Don’t Look Back (1992), where he shared his story and training program, and A Medal of Honor: An Insider Unveils the Agony and the Ecstasy of the Olympic Dream (1998), a novel about biathlon.

John Morton, age 76.

Celebrate Winter is a compilation of memories, from John’s days as a kid in New Hampshire to skiing for Middlebury College in Vermont; competing and coaching internationally in biathlon; coaching at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; designing multi-use trails for the past 30+ years; to (most recently) skiing with his young granddaughter in a backpack while she calls out for more downhills!

Biathlon is a theme tying many of the roughly 70 stories together, as are observations on the human condition (ego, anger, generosity, laughter, inspiration). He covers the role TV plays in popularizing biathalon; Coca Cola at feeding stations; weather and altitude as they can affect racing; Olympic politics; doping; saunas; holding the Olympic torch for a moment at the Calgary Winter Olympics; and a constant sense of the magnetism of cross-country skiing, its beauty, diversity, and comraderie.

As trail designer, Morty has worked with schools and colleges, lodges and real estate projects, alpine resorts and pure cross-country areas, communities and private land owners, ski clubs and non-profits. Unlike some other designers, he’s well aware of the fact that really tough trails are only suited for elite athletes, whereas the great majority of us are recreational skiers (and the bread-and-butter for most Nordic ski areas).

If having your own professionally planned and built trail system sounds intriguing (cross country skiing, hiking, running, biking, snowshoeing, equestrian…), John Morton (https://www.mortontrails.com/) is still going strong in his mid-70s.

I recently purchased several copies of Celebrate Winter to give as gifts. Many of the anecdotes are just a few pages long, making for a delightful – no, mesmerizing – read.


One Comment

  1. Where can we buy his books

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