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A Verona-based cross country ski group had considered reopening the historic Telemark Lodge — which has been a staging site for the American Birkebeiner race — as a training center, but found that it needed too much work.

While the first hint of snow here has Madison area cross country skiers excited, things aren’t looking so bright for the troubled Telemark Resort in Cable.

The historic lodge, a key staging site for the American Birkebeiner cross country ski race, has again gone dark just weeks after it was sold to a Colorado group.

Clifton Louis, a Colorado resident and Birkie skier himself, bought the resort and its 975 acres of property out of foreclosure last month. The Louis family has long owned property near the resort and has ties with the SC Johnson family, which has also been involved financially with Telemark.

When the sale was announced, there was excitement in the ski community that the aging lodge would be repaired and reopened as a training center for the Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC). The Verona-based association is headed by Yuriy Gusev, who also organizes the annual Madison Winter Festival.

But after checking on the condition of the Telemark Lodge, CXC officials this week determined it would be too expensive to get the lodge in working condition, according to Tom Held, who has followed the fate of the lodge on his blog, the Active Pursuit. Renovation costs were estimated at $2 million to $4 million, with $500,000 needed immediately just to get the 200-room lodge and convention center open for this winter.

Given that, the new owners have since turned off the heat and electricity to the facility leaving its future in doubt.

“Closed and unheated in the coming winter, the outdated, 200-room hotel and convention center — once a vital tourist destination in northern Wisconsin — is expected to deteriorate further,” writes Held.

Given those developments, it’s possible that the Telemark Lodge will face the wrecking ball rather than seeing a new life, although tourism officials in northern Wisconsin remain optimistic it can be saved.

“CXC would bring events and athletes there to fill rooms but someone else needs to be responsible for running the lodge, preparing the rooms, meals, bar and convention space,” Cable Area Chamber of Commerce director James Bolen told Held. “There is still great potential here for someone in the hospitality business."

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