About 40 take part in annual ski race

Published 6:17 am Monday, January 25, 2010

As the classic race started, 5 year-old Mikhail Meyer put on his skis and cheered on his father as he raced.

“Go, dad, go,” he yelled.

Saturday marked the second year twin brothers Kyle and Kevin Dammen organized the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Cross County Ski Race in Austin. About 40 racers made the trip to the center and raced in a one mile beginners and children’s race, an 8 kilometer classic race and a 13 kilometer freestyle race.

As his father, Chris, competed in the classic race, Mikhail grabbed his skis out of the trunk and began skiing again near his parents’ car.

“If he can go out everyday; he would go out everyday,” said Mikhail’s mother, Terri. “He loves being active. He’s a very active little kid — a lot of energy.”

Terri planned to read to her sons when Chris competed, but Mikhail skied by the car as his dad competed.

The Meyer family has been cross country skiing about a year, and picked up the sport as something to do as a family.

“It just looked like fun, and you can enjoy the scenery,” Terri said. “It looked like a good winter sport for your cardiovascular system – just good exercise.”

Max, Mikhail’s 6-year-old brother planned to compete, but didn’t because he was sick.

A soft rain fell on and off Saturday, making the track wet and soft in some spots, which Kyle said makes it a little more difficult to race. However, he said skiing on soft snow is better than if it’d rained and turned to ice.

Ken Mogren, who won the classic race and finished third in the freestyle, wasn’t too concerned with the weather conditions, as he said a skier can prepare his or her skis to fit any weather conditions.

He put on a special wax and fine grooves called rills to help his skis glide smoother.

“Preparing the skis is a bigger deal on a day like today,” he said. “I think I’ve got fast skis today, which is good because I’m spotting a few years to some of these guys.”

Mogren, a Winona resident, has been cross country skiing about 35 years. He’s been competing most of that time. Mogren, 61, won the national masters championship in Anchorage, Ala, last year in his age category last year.

“I was a runner, and it’s just something to do in the winter to stay in shape,” he said. “Turns out I like skiing way more than running.”

He also won his age category at the American Birkebeiner ski race last year.

Like Mogren, Travis Hawley started skiing to stay in shape. Hawley, a friend of the Dammen brothers, said the brothers got him into cross country skiing about two years ago.

Hawley, who competed in the 8 kilometer classic race, said he cross country skis almost every day in the winter. Hawley is from Austin, but he’s attending college in Winona for a degree in engineering.

“It’s a good way to work out in the winter,” he said.

Before finishing first place in the women’s freestyle with a time of 72:52, Heather Williams pulled her 2-year-old daughter, Madeline, in a red sled to go cheer on her father, Stephen Williams, as he competed in the classic race.

Heather grew up in Brownsdale, but now lives in Mankato. Cross country skiing is a way for the family to get together, Heather said. Madeline has her own pair of skis, but Heather said she’ll likely use them more next year when she’s older. “It’s a family thing that we do, and everyone gets together,” she said.

Rochester resident Brennan Kelly, who’s part of the Rochester Active Sports Club, said he cross country skis because he likes participating in endurance activities, like triathlons. “Winter is shorter if you can get outside in it,” Kelly said.


Beginners/children’s race

Dan Hawley 10:36

Victoria Metz 13:44

Carter Steichen 14:13

Classic female

Ann Moyer 52:52

Kim Rowley 59:44

Michelle Dammen 65:43

Classic male

Ken Mogren 31:31

Stephen Williams 32:55

Robert Mitchell 32:59

Freestyle female

Heather Williams 72:52

Michelle Johannsen 83:17

Freestyle male

Robert Mitchell 44:23

Kyle Dammen 46:37

Ken Mogren 47:06