News & Stories
Midwest Jr. Champs – glorious days of competition
The sun shone brightly on the 180 young skiers who congregated at Theodore Wirth Park for the third annual Midwest Junior Championships – the final event in the Skiwerx Race Series. Youth between the ages of 4 and 14, representing 30 clubs participated in classic, skate, ski-ball and ski-x-c events. “Some kids participated in five events,” said Foundation Director John Munger who was enthused to see the growth of this event over the years. See results.
The development of youth skiing is in large part due to the efforts put forth by the Loppet Foundation and the Minnesota Youth Ski League – the two organizations that co-hosted the event. “These kids range from ones who compete at a fairly high level and are headed to Junior Nationals, like Erin Moening who placed first among J3 girls, to four year olds like Jamison Ping who was quite possibly the most energized skier out there,” said Race Director Allie Rykken.
Rykken added that it was “the enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers that pushed the event to the next level.” Andy Brown, Chief of the Ski-X-C course, challenged the youth on the dare devil terrain, and Foundation Members Chris Sachs, Marc Beitz and Byron Lubenkov took turns with the microphone. Their enthusiastic announcing made both participants and parents smile.
The Loppet Foundation’s two middle school teams, Anwatin and Nellie Stone Johnson participated in the event – with Antwain walking away with the Ski-Ball trophy for the second year in a row. And while the majority of the kids took the racing aspect seriously, it was not an event without snowballs and skiing fun. “They must have done the Ski-X-C course 15 times,” laughed Rykken.
The event even made adults playful again. Past state champ Ben Saxton, and current state champion and LNR athlete Jakob Ellingson, who were slated to hand out awards, battled it out on the Ski-XC course before awarding the podium athletes their ribbons. “It was pretty cool,” said LNR Head Coach Piotr Bednarski who coaches many of the LNR FAST KIDS who participated in the event. “These kids are having fun and skiing hard. I think there were a lot of adults there who thought: ‘Holy smokes’, I’ve never seen so many kids skiing before.’ That was pretty cool.”