Race tracks

    Sam Miller, trailed by his dad Kevin Miller, near the finish line of the one-mile beginners/kids race in 2014 during the Dammen Nordic Cross Country Ski Race at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Herald file photo

Sam Miller, trailed by his dad Kevin Miller, near the finish line of the one-mile beginners/kids race in 2014 during the Dammen Nordic Cross Country Ski Race at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. Herald file photo

For those who like to take a nice tour of the Hormel Nature Center when the snow has fallen and the air has frosted, the Dammen Nordic cross country ski race is a great event to attend.

The race, which includes an 8K classical race, a 13K freestyle race and a one-mile beginners and kids race, will take place Jan. 16 from 8 a.m. to noon.

The course will cover the groomed trails of the nature center and the profits from the race will go directly to the Kevin Dammen Memorial Mentorship Fund, which benefits Nature Play days and Summer Adventure programs.

The Dammen Nordic cross country race was introduced in 2009 and Maria Anderson, who is running the race this season, is hoping there is plenty of snow to ski on. The race was cancelled last year due to lack of snow and in the past it has been turned into a foot race if conditions aren’t muddy or wet.

“We’re hoping we can do it right now, because the conditions are really good,” Anderson said. “We’re crossing our fingers that it’ll work out.”

Skiers of all skill levels are welcome at the race as competitors can challenge themselves to their limits or take a little easier approach. The one mile race will begin at 9 a.m. and the classical race will begin at 10 a.m.

“The freesytle race is probably the one for hard core racers, but there are people that do it for fun too,” Anderson said.

Kevin and Kyle Dammen originally started the race in Austin and when Kevin passed away in a 2011 accident, the event went on in his memory.

Now the race helps provide to volunteers like Quin Brunner, Nathan Drees, Elijah Hirst, Alec Ille, Wyatt DeWild and Sarah Hecimovich who were recipients in the mentorship program in 2015.

“They do this as volunteers and then they get a stipend from the mentorship program,” Anderson said. “I would encourage people to sign up and know that they’re supporting a real good cause.”

The Nature Center will also host cross country ski lessons and the Friends of the Hormel Nature Center Annual Meeting on Feb. 6. The meeting runs from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to the public and the ski lessons cost the price of a lesson and run from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Scott Lee, who is an associate lecturer at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, will be on hand at the meeting to speak about his experience with nature.

There will also a free bird feeder family activity at the Hormel Nature Center from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 13. Austin Audubon members will be on hand to show the type of birds that can be observed by feeders in the winter time.

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