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Fans of NordicTrack Inc.'s cross-country skiing machine have been knocked off course by the company's recent bankruptcy filing, which has led to closing retail outlets across the United States, including one at the Walden Galleria.

The company, which began as a mail-order only business, has also discontinued direct-to-consumer sales.

NordicTrack's parent company, CML Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November, following a steep decline in sales of the once extremely popular line of exercise equipment.

NordicTrack had operated a store in the Galleria for a number of years, but had switched to temporary tenant status in October, displaying its gear in the mall corridors after its lease expired.

The bankruptcy filing has also halted all production and shipping at NordicTrack's Chaska, Minn., headquarters. Callers to the company's toll-free hotline are now greeted by a recorded message indicating the company is in bankruptcy and instructing customers to call back in two to three weeks for an update.

That toll-free number is 800-435-7598.

Massachusetts-based CML, which also owns the successful Smith & Hawken gardening store chain and catalog business, is in talks with Icon Health & Fitness Inc. regarding the purchase of the NordicTrack name and inventory.

If that deal goes through, it's expected the new owner will be in a position to honor outstanding orders for NordicTrack products.

In a recent consumer survey on home fitness equipment preferences, the simulated cross-country skiing machines, which peaked in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, were seriously outpaced by treadmills and free weights.

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