CXC Spotlight: On The Move With Alice Flanders

CXC Athlete Profile 

These days Minnesota native and CXC Team athlete Alice Flanders has been keeping her eye on the prize; the prize being her steady upward progress towards national excellence in our sport. She has had her share of head turning results already, in multiple sports. Yet it is cross-country skiing that has captured her heart.

3x3 Relay

3X3 Freestyle Relay at Junior Nationals

Like so many, Alice has been skiing stretching back to nearly her birth and her love for the sport just grew and grew.

“I guess you could say, I’ve been skiing since birth, however when I first started I thought it was like gardening. It was just something you did with your parents on a Saturday,” she told me in a recent interview, but her passion for the sport became clear in High School. “I didn’t start racing until High School and that was because one of the girls on the swim team told me I had a good chance of lettering because I already owned a pair of skis” she joked with me; “By my senior year I had stopped swimming and was training for skiing year round.”

IMG_0468 With some real natural talent I asked her how she went about transitioning from HS skiing to college at Michigan Tech.

“It was really nice! Before school starts, Michigan Tech has the entire team on campus for a two week training camp. This is always a great time to catch up on everyone’s summer and to get to know all of the new people. It was very refreshing to have an instant group of friends that was as serious about training as I was. Making the jump with regards to training volume and intensity was a little bit more difficult, but ended up working out in the end. I was definitely exhausted for Junior Nationals that year, but that first season as a whole was phenomenal,” she commented.

Alice is fortunate to have long-time MTU coach Joe Haggenmiller working with her and I asked her how she has grown as an athlete skiing at MTU. Alice Flanders

“Coming to Michigan Tech, I took myself way too seriously. I was generally super stressed before races, and way too worried about results that I couldn’t control. My first year I had a pole stripped out of my hand as I was climbing up one of the biggest hills on our home course. I got to the top of the hill hyperventilating and in tears because of what had happened. Two years ago, I face planted at the start of the race, then 100yds later lost my pole and had to turn around to pick it up. After regaining my equipment, I spent the rest of the race laughing and ended up having one of my best races. There have been a ton of ups and downs over the past five years, and each one of those has provided a new perspective of the sport and of myself. My times in both Skating and Classic have improved significantly, however the amount of mental stability these events has provided is by far the biggest growth Michigan Tech skiing has given me as an athlete and person,” she told me frankly and openly.

I could very quickly understand what Alice was talking about from my own racing career, where building mental strength and fortitude was also one of my biggest challenges, and it did come with time.

West Yellowstone

Skiing at West Yellowstone, MT

One of her main goals this year and every year is to continue to improve. This holds true for both the USSA rankings and in specific races.

“Some of my target races for this year are the Birkie and the 20k Skate race at US Nationals. This year I’m signed up for mostly marathons, and since I’ve only competed in 4 races over 20K, any improvement may be hard to judge. The other main goal (and arguably the most important) is to have fun. I love skiing and never want that to change.  As far as future goals for the sport, I will have to see where graduate school and working puts me this spring,” she offered. I asked her how also working with the CXC program has helped her in working toward her goals. “CXC is providing me with all of the resources I’d ever need to continue to ski and more. With the stress of graduate school, trying to find work, and moving back and forth between Houghton and the Twin Cities, this is the biggest help anyone could offer. Without them I’m not sure I’d be able to keep racing. I am super grateful for everything they have done and am looking forward to the rest of our training camps and the race season,” Alice said.

We, of course, were happy to hear her point of view and suggest the CXC program for all young athletes who want to reach their full potential.

Skiing in SoHo

Skiing at Soldier Hollow in Utah

We believe a big season is in the cards for Alice Flanders and we can’t wait to watch her do just that. Her hard work and her expectations–and the countless hours of focus and training are an investment in her skiing career that are sure to pay off.


  • 5th place at the Minnesota State High School meet (2010)
  • All-Region 2nd team (2011)
  • All-American at Junior Nationals in the freestyle race (2011)
  • All-Region 1st team (2012)
  • All-American at Junior Nationals in the classic sprint and the freestyle race (2012)
  • National Champion 3x3k freestyle relay at Junior Nationals (2012)
  • All-Region 1st team (2014), NCAA (2014 and 2015),
  • NCAA All-American (2015).


If you want to get to know Alice Flanders more, read her blog here!


Peter Graves

by Peter Graves, Winter Olympic Games Announcer and CXC Writer 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. 

2015 CXC/Wayne Fish Coaches Certification and Conference

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October 23-25, 2015
Lakewoods Resort, Cable WI

This year’s CXC Coaches Conference will be focused on CXC/USSA Level 100 and Level 200 Coaches Certification. Coaches will be able to complete full certification during the weekend and receive certification license.



$195.00 – Level 100 Certification and Conference

$240.00 – Level 200 Certification and Conference

$155.00 – Conference only


$40.00 – Chairman’s Awards Dinner

This award program brings awareness to those individuals that contribute time, effort, leadership and mentorship to others. On Saturday, October, 24, 2015 the Central Cross Country Ski Association will present the following awards to individuals in our community.

– John Hugus Leadership Award
– Igor Badamshin Coach of the Year Award
– Wane Fish Volunteer of the Year Award

Certification and Conference Includes

2015/16 CXC/USSA Certified Coach Membership
– USSA Level 100 or 200 Cross Country Coaches Education Manual
– Technique Video Files
CXC Academy Subscription

Conference Includes

CXC/USSA Club Volunteer Membership
CXC Academy Subscription

LEVEL 100 CERTIFICATION is recommended for coaches working with all ages and levels of cross country skiing, from youth to adult and introductory level to world class. It is designed for the coach to learn the fundamentals for effective coaching in cross country skiing and to demonstrate basic knowledge in these areas.

LEVEL 200 CERTIFICATION focuses primarily on physiology and training methods for developing cross country skiers, while giving coaches more tools to teach effectively and to prepare their athletes for competition. The Level 200 education track consists of a coaching manual with contributions from over fifteen different authors who are experts in the various domains of the course. The manual also covers the coaching principles content that previously was delivered through the American Sport Education Program (ASEP), ultimately saving USSA coaches money while working toward their Level 200 certification. The new Level 200 is delivered through in person clinics by certain regional governing bodies, this is the recommended method for the certification. For those coaches who do not have an in person clinic in their area, the content can be studied online.


Yuriy Gusev, CXC Athletic Director

For further information or details on the CXC Coaches Conference & Certification please feel free to contact Yuriy Gusev

“I eat, sleep, train and repeat.”

By: CXC Team Member, Kyle Bratrud

This summer has absolutely flown by. As I write this, I am currently living and training in Marquette, Michigan, where I have lived and attended Northern Michigan University the last four years. I’m very thankful for the support I have received from CXC allowing me to continue to chase my Olympic dreams from a location where I am comfortable. My life here is as simple as it gets; – I eat, sleep, train, and repeat.

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I attended part of the REG camp in July, and recently returned from an on-snow camp at Eagle Glacier, AK. It was super exciting to see the young talent at REG and ski alongside some of the up and coming Midwest skiers. It was also great to catch up with CXC Head Coach Andy and begin our athlete-coach relationship.

From there I flew to Alaska for the Eagle Glacier camp. Last summer, I attended two glacier camps and felt they really benefited my skiing the following winter. This camp was extremely productive and I was able to log some quality hours on snow. July will end up being the biggest month of training I have done in my career and my legs are feeling better than they have felt coming out of the previous two months so I am confident I am starting to really get fit now.


I’m very excited for what the future holds and proud to represent CXC and the Midwest as I pursue my dreams. For now, the training rolls on and this week U14 boys and girls will be in Marquette, MI for the Dream Camp!


2015 Paddle and Portage Triumph

The 36th annual Paddle and Portage took place in Madison, WI this past weekend, where competitive canoers, kayakers, and stand up paddle boarders unite for a day of fun and racing. The race began at 9am with the first wave, while the rest of the waves followed shortly after one another.

The Paddle and Portage starts at James Madison Park on the shore of Lake Mendota where paddlers race a 1.5 mile loop, jump out and portage their boats less than a mile across the isthmus to Lake Monona, to paddle the final 1.5 miles across to Olin Park.

CXC Adaptive Master Skier Jane Schmieding and Guide Leslie Jackson completing first course of Paddle and Portage

CXC Adaptive Master Skier Jane Schmieding and Guide Leslie Jackson completing first course of Paddle and Portage

Jane Schmieding, a CXC Adaptive Master Skier participated in the Paddle and Portage by using an adaptive paddleboard. With help from Leslie Jackson of Serena Paddlesports and Kevin Carr of Creating Ability who developed the adaptive paddleboard, Jane was the first person to use an adaptive paddleboard in the Paddle and Portage race.

CXC Adaptive Coach Martin Donegan portaging the paddle board

CXC Adaptive Coach Martin Donegan portaging Jane’s paddle board

With a modified starting circuit from James Madison Park on Lake Mendota, and help from volunteers and race supporters during the portage, Jane proudly paddled her way through the Paddle and Portage race proving what can be done as an adaptive athlete.

IMG_4217 Paddle and Portage

For more information regarding the adaptive paddle board, contact Leslie Jackson at or (760)-419-3489.

For more information regarding the CXC Adaptive Nordic Ski Program, contact our Para Nordic Coach Martin Donegan at

Mix Up Your Workouts!

By: CXC Team Member, Nichole Bathe

Today marks the start of my recovery week after a solid 3 week block of training. I had the opportunity to spend part of a week in Cable, WI at the REG camp with some of the other Elite team athletes. The other weeks I spent at home working and training around Madison, WI. I also spent the past three weeks mixing up my training from biking to canoeing and roller skiing in between.

The couple of days in Cable were great! I spent time with CXC’s head coach, Andy Keller, and other coaches from around the area, as well as some of the up and coming athletes of the central region. This was really exciting for me see, as I do a lot of training on my own, so it was great to have other people getting out there with me! I was also able to push myself for the first time this summer and see how my body reacted to some hard efforts. I was pretty tired going into the uphill and double pole time trials but that was the plan. I was pleased with how they went and how my body reacted after doing some intensity. After Cable, I finished out the rest of my 3 weeks at home!

Finishing the Uphill Running Time Trial at the REG Camp

Finishing the Uphill Running Time Trial at the REG Camp

This past weekend I was able to check something off my bucket list, which I was very excited about. My older brother and I were able to do the Paddle and Portage in Madison, WI. In this race we canoed 1.5 miles in Lake Mendota, then carried our canoe across the Madison square for a little under a mile, and then put the boat back in at Lake Monona to paddle the last 1.5 miles. My dad has done this race for years and we always watched, so this year it was cool to have him watching and us competing! We ended up winning our age group which was super exciting, seen as that was our second time in a boat together!

Cameron and I at the start of the Paddle and Portage.

Cameron and I at the start of the Paddle and Portage.

Keeping my training mixed up and trying new things, really keeps me motivated when the ski season comes around to put in all those hours on snow! Now it’s time to kick back and relax for the next week!


Hard Work and Some Play

By: CXC Team Member, Andy Brown

The last couple of weeks have been full of activity. I had the privilege of attending this year’s REG camp in Cable, WI. The camp kicked off with a 4km uphill run on the Birkie Ridge trail. I surprised myself placing 5th overall in the run which for me is quite good. I have been doing a decent amount of running intervals in Eloise Butler and Quaking Bog which are paying off.

5K Running TT at the REG Camp

5K Running TT at the REG Camp

The 1km double pole time trial the following day was a little more humbling. A sprained wrist and limited strength training came back to bite me with a very slow overall time. Looking over video of the time trial later with Coach Andy Keller, showed that I was utilizing a long slow technique, rather than a faster more powerful double pole, which is required for sprints and steeper segments. Swinging my hands forward in sync with my hips is something I’veI have been working on since. While it is always frustrating to turn in a slow time, the opportunity to learn something from it compensates for any bruising to one’s ego.

By far, my best workouts of the camp were the last two days. On Friday we bounded up the Junior National’s course on Mt. Telemark. While chasing Jake Brown and Paul Schommer, I finally felt that the classic skier within me was coming to the surface. We managed to get in six strong intervals up the hill within the allotted time. On Saturday, the last day of the camp, we did a long combo workout. After classic skiing 18 miles we switched to running shoes for the last ten miles. The running trail was awesome, winding through deep woods and even over a beaver dam. I love running on trails, getting lots of mud, and even a little blood over the course of a run makes it far more enjoyable than any track. Unfortunately we did get attacked by bees though Coach Bryan Fish bravely took the brunt of the assault getting stung four times including some sensitive areas. Halfway through the run Jake Brown took off the front of the pack. With five miles to go I figured I could hold on and accelerated with him. Running with someone faster is a painful yet healthy thing to do and I appreciated the chance to learn something from Jake. We finished together and I took the opportunity to jump in the lake to cool off.

All in all it was a great camp. I learned a lot and have refocused my training to place a greater emphasis on double pole and strength training. While the week long camp was plenty of fun, I am very glad skiing is still mainly my recreation and not profession.

After REG camp, I had a recovery week where I went sailing on Lake Superior with my family. Sailing is something my family has done since I was born, and being on a boat is a very natural feeling for me. Just before we shoved off I managed to squeeze in one last workout, classic rollerskiing in the hills outside of Bayfield. There’s some great terrain in that area and it’s always an adventure skiing on some of the roads. On the way back down I was easily doing 30 mph while jumping over cracks in the road.

This year we chartered the performance cruiser “Just Is”. We had a little rain and there was a hick-up with an engine compartment blower that had me tracing the boat’s DC electrical systems, but there was plenty of sun to enjoy refreshing plunges and morning swims in Lake Superior.

052 Andy Brown

Sailing on Lake Superior

Andy Brown

On the way back into port there was a strong headwind that had us fighting up the channel. The boat sailed supremely well and we managed to hang on in a sailboat race around Basswood Island despite the fact that we were only flying our Jib sheet and pulling a dinghy.

IMG_0146 Andy Brown

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I need some time to recover from this much vacation. Fortunately I have plenty of work that needs to get done in lab so my recovery is assured. This summer still has at least one more adventure left for me with a Quetico canoe trip in August, but for now I’m happy to be back in lab and training in the Twin Cities.

CXC Spotlight: Minnesota Youth Ski League

Growing As Fast As The Kids.

There’s something really special about the Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL), a non-profit organization, that get’s kids on cross-country skis, between the ages of 4- 15. Parents are welcome too, to learn along with their children. Under their fine programs, kids can learn to develop and enjoying Nordic skiing in a happy environment that reaps life-long benefits and starts young people off right.

MYSL is a true volunteer organization, with only one paid employee.


During the winter starting in December, each season the MYSL meets in many locations in the Twin Cities, as well as the Greater Minnesota area and Wisconsin, for roughly eight weeks.

Like all great ski programs, the MYSL emphasizes fun, fitness, development and encourages young people of all abilities to take part. Amy Cichanowski serves the Board as the Executive Director. Amy has a vast background in the sport, including being the Minnesota State HS Champion in 1988. She skied for Middlebury College and moved to Minneapolis to be part of Steve Gaskill’s Team Birkie and was a Red Group skier for a decade. She also won three Korteloppets, competed in three U.S. Olympic Trials and had a half-dozen top-10 finishes in the World Loppet marathon, along with many more honors.


We asked Amy how she got started with the MYSL…

”I became the Executive Director in 2005, taking over from founder and first Executive Director, Anne Rykken. The membership has tripled since then and we’ve filled out our programming to be more robust and focus more on proper development of skiers before their HS years. We are now the largest Nordic membership organization in the country, with over 2,000 members.”

“What I enjoy most about my job is the program development and community connections, “ Amy told us, “MYSL is the base of the development triangle, and as such, its important that we have a great relationship with everyone in the ski community. I enjoy using my life-long experiences and relationships in the ski community to formulate a vision on how MYSL can best serve the community. I’ve been an elite skier, coached elite skiers, coached HS programs and coached kids of all ages. I am from a small town skiing community, but now I am part of a large city ski community.”

There are a variety of special events throught the year, including this Summer, and with two sessions planned as part of the Skiwerx Elm Creek and Minneapolis Fall sessions slated for September 7th and 8th. Annual events include exciting opportunities like a pre-season get togethers and silent auctions (to be held this November), along with Youth Racing 101 Clinics, the biggest ski swap in the nation and much more. All providing a great opportunity to grow, learn and enjoy the company of fellow Nordic fans.


Some of the impressive statistics provide proof of just how special and well received the program is. Consider the Skiwerx Series which is in its sixth year, and attracted 130 racers this past season. The CXC Youth Cup program is heading into its second season which drew an amazing 92 young racers in the Under 12-14 age groups last year. Impressive indeed.

The future is bright for the MYSL, and the words of Amy Cichanowski provide ample proof of her able stewardship;

“Going forward, I would like to focus on our existing programming and events, making sure each event and program is well aligned with our core mission. MYSL will also need to grow its place in the community in terms of developing ski racers and overseeing quality kids events. We’ve started this with Skiwerx a few years ago and made a big step forward by cooperating with CXC this past season with the CXC Youth Cup, Skiwerx licensing and some coaches training initiatives, but it’s really only the beginning of what may be possible.”

Believe it. This program has the power to change lives, and the best is yet to come, I’m certain.


Peter Graves

by Peter Graves, Winter Olympic Games Announcer and CXC Writer

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.