Racers in the freestyle race leave the starting line in 2011 for the annual cross country ski race. In 2012, the event turned into a run, and in 2013 the race was canceled. However, in 2014, the Dammen Nordic Cross Country Ski Race will once again be on skis. -- Herald file photo
Racers in the freestyle race leave the starting line in 2011 for the annual cross country ski race. In 2012, the event turned into a run, and in 2013 the race was canceled. However, in 2014, the Dammen Nordic Cross Country Ski Race will once again be on skis. -- Herald file photo

Back on the skis: Annual Dammen Nordic Race returns after 2013 absence

Published 10:35am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

For the first time in three years, the Dammen Nordic Ski Race will be, well, a ski race.

Last year, a lack of snow and excess ice prevented organizers from holding an event. The year before that, the race was held as a running event because of a lack of snow. This year, all signs point to skis and snow on the ground. The event begins with race-day registration and packet pick-up at 8 a.m. this Saturday. The children’s 1-mile race begins at 9 a.m., the 8-K classic ski starts at 10 a.m., and the 13-K freestyle ski starts at 11 a.m.

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 28 degrees and a very fitting, slight chance of snow, according to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis. People have been using the trails this winter, according to Nature Center Director Larry Dolphin. While the snow conditions may not be perfect, the organizers are simply excited there will be a race.

“It’s just a fun competition to get people out, and we’re going to try to do the best we can with grooming the trails,” Dolphin said.

After setting the track, there may be some bare spots, but there is enough snow to ski around those areas, Dolphin added.

About a dozen people have preregistered for this year’s race, according to organizer Michelle Johannsen. Most people will sign up during race-day registration.

“The highest amount that we had was the year that we actually had it as a running race,” Johannsen said. “We had about 55 participants, and we also had a few volunteers there as well in addition to that.”

Steve Williams waxes the skis of his granddaughter, Madeline Schoenstedt, 3, while she gets some help from grandma Bonnie Williams and aunt Katie Williams during the beginners/kids race in 2011.
Steve Williams waxes the skis of his granddaughter, Madeline Schoenstedt, 3, while she gets some help from grandma Bonnie Williams and aunt Katie Williams during the beginners/kids race in 2011.

That was the first year the event was tagged as the Dammen Nordic Ski Race, a tribute to Kevin Dammen, who died in June 2011 in a kayaking accident on Lake Superior. Kevin and his brother, Kyle, started the race in 2009.

“He and his brother were just great about getting other young people outdoors, doing stuff in the winter,” Dolphin said.

Those who pre-register, and some of the earliest to arrive on Saturday, will receive free event T-shirts. Men and women winners in each division will receive prizes. There will be additional raffle prizes, as well. Registration is $20 per person. For $5 extra, participants can race in both the classic and freestyle. For more information or a registration form, go to hormelnaturecenterskirace.info. Participants can also rent skis from the Nature Center for $6 per adult, or $1 per child. Visitors will also be able to ski Saturday without participating in the race, Dolphin said.


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