News & Stories

John Schmitt Dedication Ceremony and Annual Meeting Recap

To the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, longtime race announcer John Schmitt was honored at the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation’s Annual Meeting. Architect Bruce Colwell introduced the unique building he and his team put on skis before handing the podium off to Foundation director John Munger. Munger eloquently honored John Schmitt and his longtime commitment to cross-country skiing in the Midwest. Schmitt was ever humble in his acceptance of this honor, although jokingly accused director John Munger for delivering a “eulogy” instead of a dedication. Upon receiving his award thanking him for his years of service, Schmitt said he would gladly “help out the organization in any way he could, “hollering and screaming.”

Despite Schmitt’s enthusiasm, vigor, and clever ways over the microphone, it can be unanimously agreed upon that there has never been a gentler or kinder voice resonating over the finish line. Schmitt got the crowd chuckling as he commented on the quality of character of Nordic Skiers being “the best athletes in the world because they are not paid.” Taking a champagne bottle to the skis the building sits on, and giant pruning sheers to the ribbon wrapping the timing building, the new Schmitt Timing Building was christened in his name- a structure that will undoubtedly continue to improve the caliber of the Wirth cross-country skiing venue Minneapolis in years to come.

Following the ceremony was the Annual Foundation Meeting. Skiers, paddlers, parents of Anwatin Ski Team members, volunteers and committee members converged in the Wirth Chalet Fireplace room for snacks and a slide presentation re-capping a year of activity with the Foundation, and highlighting programming for the upcoming year. Over 50 people were in attendance, and highlights from the meeting are as follows:

Long Term Vision, Trails: The Foundation is committed to improving skiing opportunities in the Minneapolis area for all abilities. Long-term visions of trail improvements include bringing cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails and facilities up to national and international standards. Investing in infrastructure like lights, snowmaking, bridges (to support grooming equipment), and erecting a building to act as home base for skiing and silent sports in the Minneapolis area will continue to support the growing number of skiers in the Twin Cities.

Youth Programming: This year, the Foundation is looking forward to offering cross-country ski coaching and instruction in 6 North Minneapolis elementary schools. Kids receive 6 weeks of coaching during gym classes and top off their experience with the Minne-Loppet.
The Foundation run Anwatin Middle School Team finished their first successful year of year round programming that included skiing, mountain biking, Adventure Camps, competitions, a bicycle-powered camping trip and culminated with an earn-a-bike opportunity in which 11 youth were rewarded for summer attendance with mountain bikes. The middle school team program is expanding this year to include the Nellie Stone Johnson Ski Team.
Additionally, Loppet Ski Camps and Adventure Camps, with about 50% of the kids on scholarships, doubled this past year, and will be expanded in 2012. Two additional Ski Camps and Adventure Camps will be a part of the 2012 season effectively doubling the amount of kids served last year. Exponential Growth! The Trips for Kids mountain bike program and fleet of 15 bikes continues to draw many groups into the park.

Adult Programming: The Foundation offers numerous adult clubs meant to build skills, strength and establish community around outdoor active lifestyles. The Loppet Run Club, Tri-Club, and Trail Club help prepare participants for upcoming Loppet events through fun and quality training. The clubs receive expert instruction from veteran skiers and coaches, and are encouraged to initiate and participate in members led workouts over the weekends. The clubs are run such that athletes of all abilities and backgrounds can benefit and learn from their time on the trails.

Events: The 2011 City of Lakes Loppet experienced record attendance: 10,000 registered participants, 40,000- 50,000 in attendance. The Trail Loppet grew by 18% and, while the Tri-Loppet was successful executed even amidst the post tornado carnage, participation remained the same as in past years. This year the Foundation is looking forward to hosting the International World Paralympics where the best Paralympic Nordic skiers from around the world will be competing in Wirth for 2 days of competition, with events tying into the Loppet. The annual Mayor’s Challenge is also being expanded to include back to back weekends of racing in Wirth and Battle Creek. The Midwest Junior Championships wraps up the winter season bringing young skiers to compete and have fun in a variety of youth events.