Mid Am Series Brings Skiers, Visitors to Keweenaw and Michigan Tech

By Dennis Walikainen | Published

The best skiers in the Midwest will be racing.
The best skiers in the Midwest will be racing.

Michigan Technological University is sponsoring the Mid Am Race Series, including a ski race at Mont Ripley, and the University and area will get a great boost, both economically and in potential enrollment. The series comes to Mont Ripley the weekend of Jan. 10, but it actually begins at Boyne Highlands and Nub’s Nob at Boyne/Harbor Springs, Mich., the weekend of Dec. 20. Portage Health is the primary corporate sponsor.

“These are the top skiers at this level in the Midwest, mostly age 16 to 18,” says David Rowe, one of the event organizers. “And 95 percent of these athletes go to college. It’s a great fit for Tech and the area.” That includes a mix of 50/50 male and female racers with potential to expand the scope of Michigan Tech’s enrollment, Rowe adds.

Rowe says many who go to college will compete for ski teams and clubs or continue skiing through recreation programs. “The Experience Tech feature of free skiing is a great incentive,” he remarks.

To secure a spot on the race circuit, Mont Ripley had to clear several hurdles, says John Manderfield, another series organizer. “The hill has to be homologated [approved and registered] in terms of vertical drop, length, safety protection for slalom. These are international standards.”

As for the economic impact, some 150-plus skiing families will spend time in the Keweenaw and the other locations (Duluth and Lutsen, Minn., in addition to downstate Michigan).

“That translates to some 550 hotel nights, counting family and support staff, coaches,” Rowe says. “Local restaurants and motels will be happy,” he adds.

Ski Hill Manager Nick Sirdenis says, “Not only are these racers great athletes, from my personal experience, they are highly motivated, extremely intelligent young leaders of the future. To come out and watch these racers will be very entertaining, especially while riding up the Husky Lift (because they will have bought a ticket)!”

The trio stressed the level of competition and the fact that skiers score points for the United States Ski Association (USSA) and International Ski Federation (FIS), which paves the way to making the national team.

“I think it is pretty exciting that such a big race is able to be held at Ripley, giving racers the opportunity to be in national and international rankings,” says racer Haley Crites, also a member of Michigan Tech’s women’s soccer team. I hope that with the success of a premier race, Ripley may be able to hold a USCSA collegiate race in the coming years.”

“Lindsey Vonn was skiing at this level in her younger years,” Manderfield says. “This truly is the training ground for future World Cup and Olympic skiers.”

For more information on the event or series, contact Manderfield at manderfieldjohn@hotmail.com or 906-281-4738 or David Rowe at drowe92@aol.com or 720-252-4209.  

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.