In a weekend of looking to the future, a strong turnout of over 150 cross country ski leaders and coaches from clubs from around U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Central Region were on hand April 6-8 in Eau Claire, Wis. for the annual Central Cross Country Skiing Congress at the Lismore Hotel. The annual gathering has become an important tool for clubs in building athletic programs for the coming season and gathering with friends.
The weekend featured a wide range of educational workshops, as well as sport committee meetings and an awards presentation recognizing volunteers, coaches and leaders.
- Among the key outcomes of the CXC Congress were decisions leading CXC to function more as a governing organization, bringing different sport groups together with a common vision and leadership. A CXC Sport Committee concept was developed modeled after U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Cross Country sports committee that will govern stakeholders across our Central. The committee will be populated with representatives each from Midwest, Great Lakes, popular skiing, youth, colleges, ski industry, officials, Wisconsin high schools and Minnesota high schools, plus two athletes. Operational procedures are in production by an appointed working group to guide the newly formed sport committee.
- CXC Cup schedule was set for the 2018-19 race season
- Review of the wax restriction policy and working group appointment to further learn what other regions have in practice
A host of presenters provided a strong educational component to CXC Congress. Highly respected cross country coach and club leader Rick Kapala of Sun Valley kicked it off with a presentation on Developing, Building and Sustaining a Successful Club. Kapala is a two-time U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Coach of the Year and three-time winner of Club of the Year. He urged attendees to not just strive to be a great cross country club, but to be the best youth sports club in their entire community – to make a difference for kids.
CXC Executive Director Yuriy Gusev, a savvy fundraiser, talked about the importance of snowmaking systems for clubs to extend their seasons and grow their participant base as well as innovative ways to raise money to support the infrastructure.
A variety of topics on club governance and leadership were covered in a panel that included Kapala along with Dr. Pamela Lemons, a Wisconsin native who serves as a sports psychologist for U.S. Ski Team athletes, and Steve Cohan, a noted entrepreneur and business leader who serves as a club consultant to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. They covered topics ranging from handling club politics to best practices in club governance, as well as building the next generation of leadership.
“Our athletes in Central Region will benefit greatly from the leadership we are seeing from our clubs,” said Gusev. “We are getting a strong turnout each year at CXC Congress. Most importantly, those attending are really engaging in the direction of our programs.”
Four of the Central Region’s top leaders were honored at the CXC Awards Dinner, each giving inspirational accounts of their service to athletes.
The Vasa Ski Club from Michigan’s Grand Traverse area received the John Hugus Leadership Award. The award is named in honor of John Hugus for his commitment to skier development. The Vasa Club sponsored three elementary schools in Nordic Rocks with skis and poles, resulting in growth in number of kids participating in the after school program. The club had 30 children participate in the Vasa SkiSparks program.
BethAnn Chamberlain of Minneapolis was recognized with the Igor Badamshin Coach of the Year Award. Chamberlain, a U.S. biathlon Paralympic development coach, worked with 18-year-old Paralympic cross country skier Mia Zutter who competed in PyeongChang, as well as Paralympic double medalist Kendall Gretsch. Zutter, a Sun Prairie, Wis. resident, was an active athlete when she lost her vision just a few years ago. Both Zutter and Gretsch had an opportunity to advance in their sport through the CXC Adaptive Program.
The Wayne Fish Volunteer award was presented to David Hugus of Wausau, Wis. Hugus was instrumental in establishing and operating snowmaking in Wausau when the Knicker Nordic Ski Club was hosting Midwest Junior National Qualifying events. Since then, he was overseeing snowmaking for the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships and 2016 USSA Junior National Championships in Cable, Wis. where man-made snow saved the event despite extremely warm temperatures. He has provided advice to clubs around Central on snowmaking and last year traveled around the USA to assist with live production of U.S. Ski & Snowboard SuperTours. He also have been instrumental in snowmaking in Madison for Madison Winter Festival and recent nordic venue at Madison’s Elver Park providing Madison Nordic Ski Club programs consistent snow coverage for its programs. Hugus was on the front end and beginning of Nordic Rocks program assisting Wausau schools with Nordic Rocks equipment and developing easy-to-use step-in ski bindings.
Kenneth & Pamela Schoville of Minocqua, Wisconsin won the Tony Wise Lifetime Achievement Award. The Scholvilles are pioneers of the WIsconsin High School State Championships. After retirement from Lakeland High School, they volunteered as coaches on CXC’s inaugural U16 NENSA Championships trip, a vital development stepping stone for young athletes. They have also been leaders in the WIsconsin Nordic Development Group, raising funds for youth cross country development in Wisconsin. The award is named in honor of Tony Wise, who started the American Birkebeiner and is credited with his strong influence in popularizing cross country skiing in America in the 1970s and 80s.
Dates are already set for the 2019 CXC Congress, April 26-27 at the Lismore Hotel in Eau Claire. The 2019 Congress will feature similar workshops with a new focus on social media plus a special session to help clubs develop their own vision, mission and goals.