Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kids ski with parents in first Barnelopet at Maasto Hiihto

Steve Foix of Calumet, left, was one of several parents who skied with their children at the First Annual Barnelopet on Feb. 16 at Maasto Hiihto in Hancock. Steve's sons, Alexander James Foix, 13, and Daniel Foix, 11, skied in the 2 Km event. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

HANCOCK -- Undaunted by single-digit temperatures, young skiers, aged three to 13, and their parents showed up at Maasto Hiihto Ski Trails for the Copper Country's First Annual Barnelopet family ski event, sponsored by the Sons of Norway, the Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) and Portage Health on Feb. 16.

Brandy Kinnunen, 11, of Tapiola, heads for the finish line in the Barnelopet 4 Km event at Maasto Hiihto on Feb. 16, 2008. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Several parents skied with their children in this non-competitive cross-country event. Participants skied 1 Km, 2 Km or 4 Km on the trails, both skating and striding.

Brandy Kinnunen, 11, and her brother, Jack Kinnunen, 9, came all the way from Tapiola for the event. Their dad, Russ Kinnunen, skied with them.

Nancy Imm, right, of Portage Township, language instructor for the Sons of Norway and a member of KNSC and the National Ski Patrol, poses for a photo with Brandy, center, and Jack Kinnunen of Tapiola after their 4 Km Barnelopet event. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

"It was O.K. but very tiring," Brandy said. "It's the first time we skied in a race."

Three-year-old Naomi Hohnholt of Hancock and her dad, Chris Hohnholt, skied the Barnelopet 1 Km event together. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Volunteer and KNSC member Ray Sharp showed up to help with starting the races.

"It was very well organized for a first-year event," Sharp said. "I hope the participation grows exponentially."

Wayne Stordahl, left, of Hancock, a member of the Sons of Norway, organized the Barnelopet, assisted by KNSC member Jay Green of Houghton, who also made the chili. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)

Barnelopet is a Norwegian word meaning "kids' ski tour," Sharp explained.

"The Sons of Norway have traditionally promoted youth skiing, so generations of American kids can learn to ski as kids do in Norway," he added.

Grant Haataja and Hendrick Haataja of Calumet pause for a photo after finishing the 4 Km race. At right is (their?) Mom who skied along. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Sharp noted a similar event -- attended by more than 1,000 young skiers -- is the Barnebirkie, which precedes the annual Birkebeiner races held in Hayward, Wis.* These races are also of Norwegian origin. Birkebeiner means the leggings made of birch bark worn by Norwegian soldiers in the Middle Ages, he explained.

During the Barnelopet, KNSC volunteers, from left, Eileen Stordahl, Sandy Aronson and Bill Marlor offered hours of their time to prepare and serve a variety of refreshments in the Maasto Chalet, including soup, chili and the yummy lemon bars at right. Free coffee, hot chocolate and cookies were also available. Not pictured is Arlyn Aronson, who was grooming the Maasto trails. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Skiers, parents and volunteers enjoyed free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies while warming up in the Maasto Hiihto Chalet. Soup, chili and other refreshments were also available for lunch.

"Portage Health provided the coffee, hot chocolate and cookies," said volunteer Eileen Stordahl.

She noted the group may consider raising the age above 13 next year to attract more skiers.

Although the Barnelopet is non-competitive, volunteer timers Mary Gardner, left, and Christine Young recorded skiers' times. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

While the Maasto Hiihto Trails are now for striding, groomer Arlyn Aronson put in skating lanes just for this event.

Each skier participating in the Barnelopet received a medal like this one from the Sons of Norway. (Photo © 2008 Gustavo Bourdieu)

Editor's Note: The Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club (KNSC) will hold their monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, at the Maasto Chalet in Hancock. One of the topics under discussion will be an exciting opportunity to purchase 140 acres of property that are part of the trail system.

* To read about the Barnebirkie, held on Feb. 21 in Hayward, Wis., visit their Web site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ski Tigers win third State High School Title

HOUGHTON -- The Copper Country Ski Tigers cross country ski team won their third overall state championship in a row this past weekend in Walloon Lake, Michigan. Olivia Orr of Hancock won both the pursuit and sprint individual girls' state titles. Ski Tigers head coach, Mike Young, was named Great Lakes Coach of the Year, as well.

State Champion Olivia Orr at the Michigan State High School Championships in Walloon Lake. (Photo © 2008 Dean Woodbeck)

The Ski Tigers scored 375.5 points on the weekend, with Marquette's Superiorland club placing second with 338.5 points.

Traverse City Central placed a distant third with 200 points. In addition to the overall title, the Ski Tigers won the girls' state title and the boys were runners-up.

Kai Sharp and Jay Woodbeck led the Ski Tigers boys' team with top-ten finishes in both the pursuit and sprint. Sharp was fourth in the pursuit and seventh in the sprint. Woodbeck placed fifth in the pursuit and was sixth in the sprint.

Elias Featherly also broke into the top ten, with an ninth place in the pursuit and tenth in the sprint. Al Toczydlowski rounded out the scoring for the boys, finishing 18th in the pursuit.

The pursuit competition consists of two races the same day. Skiers competed in the freestyle race in the morning. For the afternoon classic race, starting times were determined by the morning finish. The leader went out first. Then, if the skier in second was five seconds off the morning pace, she started five seconds behind the leader in the afternoon.

The Ski Tigers won the girls' championship with five skiers in the top ten for every race. In the pursuit, in addition to Orr's victory, Louise and Ruth Oppliger finished fifth and sixth, respectively; Madelyn Shoup was eighth, and Emily Humes was ninth.

Rounding out the scoring for the Ski Tiger girls were seventh-grader Evelyn Delong (12th), Jane Gregg (13th), Kara Donahue (18th) and Rachel Toczydlowski (19th).

In the sprint, the four-person final included three Ski Tigers – Orr, second place Louise Oppliger and third place Ruth Oppliger. Shoup placed seventh, and Humes was eighth.

Ski Tigers head coach Mike Young said, "We have a lot of depth on the girls team and had some very gutsy performances by our boys. We would not have won this year's title without everyone skiing their best. That doesn't always happen on any given weekend, but this weekend it did for us."

Five to compete in Junior Olympics in Anchorage

As a result of this race, and other qualifying races throughout the season, five Ski Tigers have qualified for the Junior Olympics, the national championships for skiers ages 19 and under. Competing in the week-long series of races, March 9-15 in Anchorage, Alaska, will be Olivia Orr, Jay Woodbeck, Kai Sharp, Madelyn Shoup and Ruth Oppliger.

The Ski Tigers race team is open to middle and high school students from throughout the Copper Country.

For complete results and photos see

Editor's Note: This press release, dated Feb. 18, 2008, is courtesy Dean Woodbeck of Keweenaw Trails.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hancock residents invited to express views at Feb. 26 Citizens' Forum

HANCOCK -- Hancock residents are encouraged to attend a Citizens' Forum from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Lakeview Manor Community Room to discuss their major concerns about the city.

At previous community and ward meetings residents have expressed their desire for such things as better access to the waterfront, better-maintained parks and beach, a safer and more easily walkable and bikeable city, less street lighting and less sprawling development. Falling revenues to the city, and rising costs, have made it increasingly difficult to meet citizens’ needs.

The goal of this meeting is to develop recommendations to the City Council, which will begin its budget-planning in March. Residents are invited to this Forum to discuss how the 2009 budget can successfully meet citizens’ needs and priorities. For more information call 482-5413.