March 15, 2008
Snowflake Nordic Center - Duluth, MN
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YOUNG SKIERS TAKE TOP AWARDS
Skiers came from all over the region as Snowflake Nordic Center hosted the eighth annual Wood N Ski Rendezvous on March 15, 2008. Young faces of second generation wooden ski striders showed a strong presence in the field and in the standings. The 5km classic-only race/tour celebrated the history of cross country skiing, using wooden skis, bamboo ski poles and vintage clothing.
NCAA skier Bjørn Bakken, from the College of St. Scholastica, had trouble with his vintage bindings. Instead of giving up, Bakken skied on one ski and ran on the other foot to finish 8th in the men’s field. Bakken, a graduate of Marshall High School in Duluth, transferred from the University of Maine, Presque Isle this year after being named to the Biathlon World Championship Junior Men’s Team.
Another young biathlete, Kurt Farchmin skied to an eleven-second win for first place, over veteran wooden ski enthusiast and racer, Chris Hegg of Grand Marais, MN. Farchmin arrived to Snowflake Nordic Center in need of wax and boots. Marshall School Coach Dave Johnson provided Farchmin with brand new, vintage 75mm ski boots and an application of klister ski wax to facilitate his win. Farchmin skied to his win on a pair of wooden Madshus Birkebeiners. Hegg was proud to announce that he has over 7000 km on his pair of Elite wooden skis.
Two Harbors High School Skier Kira Peterson came from behind and won the women’s race, finishing nineteen seconds ahead of Liz Wagner, who won the woman’s division at the Rendezvous the last two years. Wagner stated, “I felt like a mom standing between two of my daughters”, referring to a photo pose with Peterson and third-place finisher Ellen Anderson. Anderson is a college student at the College of St. Scholastica.
George Hovland, owner of Snowflake Nordic and former Olympian, skied the Wood N Ski Rendezvous in the same ski knickers that he wore in 1952 in Oslo, Norway at the Winter Olympics. Hovland loves to talk about the early days of skiing.
Conditions at the Wood N Ski Rendezvous were typical for March with 25° F temperatures, cloudy skies and transformed, crusty snow. Jack Burklund, volunteer groomer for Snowflake Nordic spent eight hours preparing the 5 km course for the event. A double set of classical tracks snaked through the birch and aspen forest as skiers negotiated the turns and hills of the trail system. Marshall Ski Coach Dave Johnson provided the timing support. Johnson is a long-time supporter of cross-country skiing.
Greg Fangel, organizer of the event, displayed a pair of nine-foot wooden skis dating to the early 1900’s along with a single ski pole. In the early days of cross-country skiing, only one pole was used and skis were hand-made. When factories started mass-producing skis in the early 1900’s, the standard length became 6-8 ft. Skis were made from hickory, pine maple, ash and birch.
Awards were given to the top three men and women overall. A small committee gave an award to the best dressed male and female skier. Best dressed refers to the skier who has the most authentic dress for the early days of cross-country skiing. Most clothing reflected ski dress in the 1960-70’s. Wynn Roberts won the best dressed male award and Ellen Anderson won the best dressed woman’s award.
Skiers at the Rendezvous were already talking about next year. Stay tuned for information about the event in 2009.
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© 2008, All rights reserved, Greg Fangel, Wood N Skis
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