Ski race slides up on its third run

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, January 8, 2011

Skiiers will once again hit the trails of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. — Herald file photo

There is only going to be one change this year surrounding the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center Ski Race, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the race itself.

Instead it will affect any races held after that.

Organizers and race coordinators, Kevin and Kyle Dammen, will be stepping down as race organizers due to conflicts with college at Winona State University.

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“Being at college, it’s hard to manage a race,” Kyle Dammen said.

The brothers approached nature center executive director Larry Dolphin in 2009 about organizing a race, which actually sprung fa new-found interest in cross country skiing. At the time the brothers were using skiing as a way to stay in shape during those times of the year when they couldn’t run.

Kevin and Kyle made an immediate impression on Dolphin.

“They were very organized and they had a good plan,” he said. “They stayed with it and were very diligent with everything to make sure it was going to work right.”

Though not a huge race by standards set by other races in Minnesota, the interest was there providing a stable base for the run through the nature center. It is one of the things that has stayed with the brothers.

“Just how fast it expanded,” Kyle said, thinking back. “We really didn’t do a whole lot the first year. We threw it together in just a few weeks and we got a ton of people.”

This year’s race will take place Saturday, Jan. 15 and will include the one mile beginners/kids race, the Classic ski and freestyle ski. The day gets started at 9 a.m. with the beginners with the other two races set to begin at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m. respectively.

The Dammen’s don’t have a complete number of how many racers they are expecting given that many sign-up late, repeating a trend from the last two years where numbers have really swelled leading up to race day.

As for the future of the race, both the Dammen’s and Dolphin would like to see the race continue.

“If anybody wants to take over, we are looking for somebody,” Kyle said. “I would like it to keep going, but for us it’s hard to get back.”

While Dolphin would also like to see it continue, whether or not the nature center takes over is still a big question.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Our staff is not that big and we kind of all have our niches. I would be looking for someone to maybe volunteer, someone willing to take it on.

“It can be a lot of work for staff or for volunteers. We’ll take a look a the work load and see if there was anybody to take it over.”

For more information, participants can contact Kevin Dammen at 507-437-2757 or Kyle Dammen at 507-319-1136. Information can also be found at the nature center’s website: or by email at