CXC Center of Excellence Training Update

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VO2 Max testing during the Jr. Devo Camp in Madison (WI)

Training is picking up at the CXC Center of Excellence and for our adaptive athletes! On May 9th and 10th, I assisted Head Coach Andy Keller in testing our Junior Athletes on a wide range of endurance, strength, and balance tests to start a baseline to track their training progress. We had 9 athletes participate in a VO2Max test, which was a dynamic learning experience for me, keeping them moving with little to no down time. Once we got them working on the treadmill Coach Keller had a good idea where his athletes were starting at, and where they need to improve.

Witnessing how the Jr. Development Camp was organized, I am starting to make  plans for the upcoming Adaptive Camp. Since our Adaptive program is small but growing, we will have more one on one time with the athletes resulting in some fine tuned and personalized testing and training. Our Adaptive athletes are coming from a wide range of abilities and backgrounds, but they will all improve with dedication and precise exercise.

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Biathlon clinic at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA, Chicago (IL)

We’ve been making our rounds to the V.A. Hospitals, where I’ve had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of Veterans, from Veterans my age to those who are older. Regardless of age or ability, they all want to have fun and enjoy themselves when it comes to friendly competition, which is where I come in. I’ve been bringing our Biathlon Training Rifles allowing  them to practice and sharpen their marksmanship skills. Then I throw in the X factor, where they use a specialized piece of equipment (the Ski Ergometer) to simulate the physical demands of Biathlon, and have them target practice with an elevated heart rate to closely simulate the stress of Biathlon.

CXC Spotlight: Big Plans Unveiled For Duluth XC

by Peter Graves, Winter Olympic Games Announcer and CXC Writer


Chad Salmela, Photo by Derek Montgomery

For those of us who know and love Duluth and it’s long time love of cross-country skiing, there is big news brewing that we just had to share. You may have heard over the past year about all manner of plans coming forth. This week I had the opportunity to chat with Duluthian Chad Salmela to find out just what all the good news is about. What follows is a transcript of that interview.

PETER GRAVES: With Duluth XC Ski Club(DXC), what’s happening now Chad, we heard talk of many exciting things, please bring us up to date.

CHAD SALMELA: It’s a very exciting time for DXC, really a new era in the scope of what the club is trying to do.  The club was founded over decade ago mostly by skiers, many of whom were parents of young skiers.  They advocated for cross-country skiing in Duluth and developed some great training programs for kids and adults as well as hosting events.  They succeeded in creating a lasting cross country ski club in Duluth that continues to do great things. We are currently engaging some transformative initiatives, which is bringing a lot of excitement to the community.  We hope it will lead to greater engagement, increased membership, and a stronger community and club than ever.

I’m relatively new to the board and I’m really impressed with the board right now, so that’s a big part of “now” for the club.  We have an excellent president in Molly Hoeg, a freelance writer with a great mind for pulling people together around complex issues and moving the board in a positive direction.  We have an accomplished and talented board that is forward-thinking and dynamic, it’s exciting to be a part of it.

Over a year ago, the city looked to DXC for guidance on a master plan for the city trails.  The club recommended and the city hired Gary Larson, who as you know has a lot of experience with skiing and trails, to create the master plan.  A snowmaking lit loop existed as possibilities at several existing locations in that master plan, but none had evident, realistic funding possibilities.  The need for a snowmaking system has been widely expressed in Duluth for decades, but it was really more of a dream that the club felt needed to be part of the master plan, not initially an expectation, at least not in the short term.

Duluth’s popular and effective mayor, Don Ness, has recognized the value of outdoor recreation to Duluth’s economy and has a record of backing outdoor initiatives.  A tourism tax the city had been using for other areas of the city was basically being retooled to develop the St. Louis River basin in West Duluth into a recreational destination.  It’s a great initiative!  We caught wind that a man-made snowmaking ski trail at the base of Spirit Mountain alpine area, might be achievable in the administration’s vision for the project as that location fell within the corridor. The idea of a Nordic center developed from there with work from the club and the city.  The project was added to the ski trails master plan, the overall development plan for the corridor as a concept has been approved by the city council, and we are now working rapidly to put together the pieces that will meet requirements for public input, and approval by the council of this specific project within the greater project.  It’s aggressive and it’s the big piece to this long-winded answer to a simple question.  But that’s not all we’ve been up to.

The club has continued to provide its ski lesson and training programs as well as doing a lot this winter to deliver basic improvements to the many existing trails and ski venues in town that have been highlighted in the ski trails master plan.  The result is a noticeable increase in care for our ski trails and ski centers.

PG: What is your mission/plans? Give me an overview.

CS: The mission statement of the club is, “Health, fun, and fitness through cross county skiing.”  That’s pretty much what drives the club and our work.  Besides the Spirit Mountain project that we’re calling the “Grand Avenue Nordic Center,” the club continues to support the revitalization of the old Lester Amity Chalet in the far eastern side of town, adjacent the Lester Ski Trails.  The club has taken on operation of the Spirit Mountain Nordic Center at the top of Spirit Mountain.  Lester and Spirit are the two most loved trails in the city, but Spirit had essentially closed with the mountain’s decision to cut it from their operational plans a few years ago.  Use of Spirit trails had essentially ceased in any practical sense, which many saw as a shame, particularly skiers on the west side of Duluth.  DXC worked out an agreement with Spirit Mountain to re-open and operate it, which we now do on a donation basis.  Siiri Morse and Andre Watt, both experienced racers and coaches, spend a lot of their time along with volunteers, buffing out that ski experience, while a board of many notable area ski personalities is overseeing the Lester Amity project under the auspices of DXC.  The efforts at both sites are key to our mission, and will be ongoing even as we address the Grand Avenue Nordic Center needs.  We hope long term to connect Grand Avenue to the Spirit Mountain trails at the top, but first things first.

PG: I’m guessing you will embark on a major gift campaign…how will you do that?

CS: The city is committing two-thirds of the infrastructure budget, then matching half of the final third with grants.  The club’s commitment is the 1/6th of the project to be fundraised within the Nordic community, with Spirit Mountain operating it with the assistance of DXC.  It’s a big commitment by the club’s past metrics for sure, but we think the community will rally behind it.  The fundraising piece for the club is really an opportunity for the Duluth skiing community to come together, pull in the same direction en masse, and really secure the future of the sport that has such a long, rich, and storied history here.  Our strategies are developing on how to make it happen, but just with the public announcement of the project and the city council’s approval, DXC’s fundraising committee for the project has secured commitments of over $100K in just a couple weeks.  We still have a long way to go, but that initial outpouring just from private individuals tells you how welcome and needed skiers in this community see this project.  From here, the approach will have to be multi-faceted, and we will need the skiing community to get and stay energized.  It’s such an exciting prospect, that the buzz is already pretty big around it.

Every bit of support we can muster, big and small, is a boost for the sport, this project, and sends the message to the city that the Nordic community is committed to making it happen.  Anyone who wants to check out more of the project and help us raise the money we need to meet our match with the city can do so on our website:

PG: Any timetable on all of this?

CS: The goal the city has put in place is to be in operation by November 2016.  We are committed to being a partner in making it happen, particularly with the concept and design phase, which is already happening.  That’s aggressive but achievable if we work hard and do it right.

PG: Thanks so much Chad, I’m totally thrilled to hear this wonderful news. Best of luck with the upcoming venture.

In compiling this story we also talked with a noted ski coach, former racer at UNH, and a current mountain bike coach, Sara Morse, who also lives in Duluth. Morse, who spent nearly a decade coaching at Loppet Nordic Racing, grew up in Stillwater, MN and is a landscape architect.

She said she was excited about what this project could mean for the sport in Duluth. “You know this is all very exciting, there is great energy here, and Nordic skiers and mountain bikers I look at as one user group. I’d love to see all weather trails for mountain biking. There is so much energy that kids would be drawn to, and we can get them fired up, and really make this system a hub, for multiple user groups.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Editor’s note:  Peter Graves has spent over 40 years in Nordic skiing, first as a racer, then as a USST coach and a USSA Administrator. He has worked in public relations and broadcasting promoting the sport, and has announced at eight Olympic Games. He is a long time voice of the Birkie and handles creative writing projects for CXC.

Open Masters/Citizen Technique Clinics

These clinics are open to master/citizen skiers of all levels, from beginner to advanced. Skiers will be divided in small groups based on their level to provide adequate personal attention. Rollerski equipment will be available to borrow if requested. Every clinic will be presented by two CXC Level 200 coaches.

MILWAUKEE AREA June 6-7, 2015 / View
CHICAGO AREA June 13-14, 2015 / View
WAUSAU AREA June 27-28, 2015 / View



  • Initial video technique evaluation (all classic and skate techniques)
  • Instructional videos to view and take home to shorten your learning time
  • Instructional sessions for technique and training development
  • End of clinic video analysis to see improvement
  • Clinic also covers flexibility, strength and balance assessment
  • Complementary CXC membership


Andy Keller – CXC Team Head Coach
Bruce Manske – CXC Development Coach
Martin Donegan – CXC Para Nordic Coach
Yuriy Gusev – CXC Athletic Director



Yuriy Gusev, CXC Athletic Director

For further information or details on CXC Camps for 2015 please feel free to contact Yuriy Gusev

Join the TEAM behind the TEAM

Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC) invites skiers from across the United States to join the CXC Masters Team, a group of master and citizen skiers of all ages and ability levels who love the sport of cross country skiing and want to see the sport grow.


Currently, the program has five CXC Masters Team Chapters that host training sessions regularly throughout the Midwest: four locations in Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Madison, Rice Lake, and Wausau, and one in Chicago, Illinois.

Each Chapter meets with a CXC coach several times a year to work on technique, agility, strength, and individual training plans. Chapters create an opportunity to bond and train as a group with other master skiers that extends beyond each session.


Other opportunities built into the CXC Masters Team program include visiting the CXC Training Center in Madison for technique analyses on the rollerski treadmill, VO2 testing with  training zones evaluation, and balance and strength evaluation. Each CXC Masters Team member receives full access to the CXC Online Academy, which includes training plans and a video library.


After a summer and fall of training, CXC coaches will provide race support services for CXC Masters Team member at six Midwest races:

Seeley Hills Classic, Noquemanon, City of Lakes Loppet, Mora Vasaloppet, American Birkebeiner, and Great Bear Chase.

To end the season on a festive note and to celebrate a season of Nordic fun and excitement, CXC Masters Team member are the special guests with complimentary tickets to the CXC VIP Birkie Dinner.


The CXC Masters Team program has three levels of membership: Bronze, Silver, and Gold; the membership opportunities, benefits, and specialty features increase with each level of support.

Skiers from the across the United States annually become members of the CXC Masters Team, as individuals, clubs and business, joining  a network of great people who support, promote, and grow the sport of cross country skiing.

In return for this generous support, in the form of a TEAM membership, CXC provides many unique and exciting Nordic opportunities, highlighted by professional instruction from CXC Team coaches, top-level race support services, and social/training experience with other CXC Team athletes and supporters.

Join the TEAM behind the TEAM!


Yuriy Gusev, CXC Executive and Athletic Director

For further information or details on CXC Masters Team please feel free to contact Yuriy Gusev or 608.385.8864

Summer Open Camps For Skiers Ages 14 to 19

‘Plan to Progress’

The Summer Open Camp Series are designed to bring the committed athletes (ages 14 to 19) together to train and live for extended periods during the summer. Training sessions, social activities, group adventures, and even Prom dinners have all been a part of these great camps.

All athletes within the Central Division are encouraged to attend.

CABLE, WI June 12-18, 2015 / Lakewoods Resort and Lodge
CABLE, WI July 12-18, 2015 / Telemark Condos
IRONWOOD, MI August 9-15, 2015 / Wolverine Nordic Village

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The cost is $1320.00 for all three camps. Athletes that attend less than 3 camps are priced on an individual camp basis fee of $620.00/camp or $1040.00/two camps. Athletes are encouraged to attend all three camps and work with their individual club coach between camps.

Register Me Now!

Andy K

Andy Keller, CXC Head Coach

For further information or details on CXC Junior Camps for 2015 please feel free to contact Andy Keller or 612.590.1739

Kyle Bratrud and Alice Flanders Join CXC Team

Central Cross Country Skiing is proud to announce Kyle Bratrud and Alice Flanders, will be joining the CXC Team for the 2015-2016 Season.

Nordic_CCSA_2[1]Along with these two additions, the Central Cross Country Skiing is ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS from serious individuals looking in to joining the CXC Team.

Application deadline: May 15

CXC Team was officially established in 2007 as a way to provide support to the athletes who showed potential and drive to progress towards athletic excellence at the National and International level of competition.

Since that time, the CXC Team athletes won multiple U.S. National titles, National Nordic Foundation (NNF) Cup, SuperTours, American Birkebeiner, and other popular marathon races. Many CXC Team athletes have also represented the U.S. at the Junior World Championships, U23 World Championships, World Cups, World Championships, Winter Olympic Games, – with a few climbing to the podium at these events and having been named to the U.S. Ski Team.

Twice the CXC Team has received the “Cross Country Club of the Year” Award from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (2007 and 2012).

Kyle and Alice look to build upon the success they have achieved in collegiate skiing in the professional ranks.

Kyle Bratrud


Kyle Bratrud

Kyle Bratrud, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, skied out his collegiate career at Northern Michigan University. While there, he qualified for three NCAA Championships, earning  4 All-American honors. Last year, he earned his first ever Senior National Championship win in the 15km Skate, which helped him qualify to compete in the World Championships in Falun, Sweden.

Alice Flanders


Alice Flanders

Alice Flanders, also a Midwest native, grew up in Crystal, Minnesota and skied collegiately at Michigan Technological University. While skiing for the Huskies, she qualified for two NCAA championships and earned an All-American spot in the 15km Skate Mass Start in 2014. Along with these honors, Flanders is a 3-time All-Region First Team skier, as well as 4-time All-American at Junior Nationals.

CXC Team’s goal is to provide coaching, training and modest financial support to a select few individuals that possess the skill, drive and dedication to pursue the  goal to represent the U.S. at Junior World Championships, U23 World Championships, World Cup, World Championships and Winter Olympic Games.

The vision of the program is to develop athletes who are ambassadors and role models committed to spreading awareness, knowledge and enthusiasm by promoting  a healthy lifestyle and increasing  cross country ski participation.

Andy K

Andy Keller, CXC Team Head Coach

CXC Team has developed a camp training structure consistent with many national ski teams as well as professional cycling teams. The intent is to provide focused team training and support within each camp and then provide athletes with the opportunity to go home and work on personal training components pointed out during the previous camp.

For further information or details about the CXC TEAM please feel free to contact Andy Keller or 612.590.1739

Introducing Martin Donegan

Welcome to CXC Martin! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up Alpine Skiing, Competitive Swimming, and playing Lacrosse. I love staying active and playing sports, but rarely watch them on T.V. (short attention span). I raced as a little kid Alpine, but lost interest when I wanted to become an instructor at the age of 16. I taught Explorers lessons for beginning skiers for about 10 years,  and eventually moved to Colorado. There, I helped develop a “feeder” lacrosse team for youths at University Colorado-Boulder (CU), and worked molding young skiers through TREK (6 week training camp for developing skiers) at Eldora Mountain Resort.  Most recently I lived in Granby, where I worked at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA of the Rockies, here  I was introduced to Nordic Skiing and began using it as a training method for myself.

Martin Donegan

Martin Donegan, CXC Para Nordic Coach

What are your thoughts on advancing our Adaptive programs?

I would like to see the adaptive program at CXC expand to encompass more Veterans involvement. They have untapped potential, with dedication and marksmanship skills not found  in the civilian population, making them ideal candidates for our program. With a seasonal grant from the Veterans Administration we can travel to them and introduce them to the sport with the appropriate equipment.

Describe your coaching style.

My coaching has primarily been working with kids, so blending a mix of fun, imagination, and focus is key. Even as an adult, if you train without all three “you’re gonna have a bad time”. Kids focus and attention can be hard to get, and so is mine, being coached by me can seem “crazy” but I enjoy putting myself in my athletes position-doing the actual workout too.I believe as a coach it’s important for your participants to witness the how and why, instead of being told how and why.

Part of your role will be working with athletes in the Center of Excellence, Why should all athletes (Elite, Masters, Juniors, etc) schedule time with you?

Working at the Center of Excellence at CXC is going to be a blast! I encourage all of our athletes to join us for some sessions to establish a baseline of where we are headed. An added bonus is picking up a few tips to help your training progress. We offer amazing world class services for athletes to get a base reading, then personalized improvement protocols. As the seasons progress I encourage athletes to return (more than once) to see how their training is helping mold them  into a better athletes for next season.

You can reach Martin at