2017 CXC Award Recipients

The CXC Awards Dinner recognized four of the central region’s outstanding ski community members at the inaugural CXC Congress weekend in Eau Clair, Wisconsin this past weekend.

The honored members of the ski community who have persistently committed their time to the sport of Cross Country Skiing each gave inspirational accounts of their experiences as participants of the ski culture in the central region.

Ben Popp, American Birkebenier Ski Foundation, Hayward (WI)

John Hugus was remembered for his commitment to skier development as Ben Popp, executive director of the American Birkebenier Ski Foundation (ABSF), was honored for his own leadership. Ben’s charismatic manner and general enthusiasm for skiing and the ski culture has been evident throughout his time at ABSF and did not slow as he accepted his Leadership award. Ben’s dedication to providing ski opportunities to skiers’ of the central region goes beyond the winter months and the famed Birkie with events and programming that instill the Birkie spirit everyday.


Kris Hansen, Stillwater Nordic Ski Team, Stillwater (MN)

The Igor Badamshin Coach of the Year came to a well deserving recipient from Stillwater (MN), – Kris Hansen. Kris’s lengthy list of statewide success with the Stillwater High School Girls Team has been a true testament of a coaching philosophy that works. Upon receiving the award Kris recalled the importance of core values of the Stillwater ski team (team work, respect for others, personal accountability and the love for the process) and how these values are part of the success Kris has witnessed over the past 20 years (including, but not limited to 16 of the last 20 Section Championships and 15 of the last 20 Conference Championships and, of course, fostering Jessie Diggins at the start of her skiing career).


Joe Kelsey, Cable (WI)

The Wayne Fish award was presented to Joe Kelsey of Cable, Wisconsin. Joe’s unyielding commitment to volunteering at events in the Cable area are fundamental to the central ski community at large. Joe, considered the ultimate “behind the scenes hero” is a man who arrives at a race venue before the sun rises and leaves well after the sun sets. Joe has volunteered at countless events including Junior Nationals, Junior National Qualifiers, IPC World Championships, IPC World Cups and the American Birkebeiner.


Ahvo Taipale, Finn Sisu, St. Paul (MN)

The recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award was Ahvo Taipale of Finn Sisu in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ahvo accepted the award from longtime friend and last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Dennis Kruse, who honored Ahvo for his consistent generosity and tireless talent in providing educational opportunities to anyone interested in cross country skiing. Ahvo, who has operated in numerous roles within the ski community since moving to the U.S. was recognized for his frequent contributions to the central region’s ski community that have allowed it to excel.

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