It’s true that the Midwest lacks the grand mountain peaks of the western United States. But it still leaves a significant imprint on the world of snow sports.
Wisconsin is the home of the American Birkebeiner, the only U.S. event on the Worldloppet tour. The Birkie, a cross-country ski event, hosts over 10,000 participants.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, hosts the City of Lakes Loppet, a weekend that includes competitive as well as recreational cross-country ski events, bike races, and a fat-tire loppet.
Burnsville, Minnesota, has Buck Hill, a small area that skis big. It has been instrumental in the development of world-class ski racers such as Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Vonn.
Michigan is home to Boyne Resorts, a company that manages ski areas from coast-to-coast, including Big Sky (Montana); Loon Mountain (New Hampshire) and in Michigan, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands. Under the leadership of Everett Kircher, Boyne installed the world’s first triple chairlift (1964), its first quad lift (1964), the America’s first sixpack lift (1992).
The region also hosts major sled-dog races, including the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, which takes place along Minnesota’s Lake Superior shore. The there-and-back race, which takes racers from Duluth (nearly) to the Canadian border, is a 373-mile round trip. Marquette, Michigan, is the starting point of several dog-racing events, including the UP 200, which is, in fact, a 240-mile event.
Bike racing on the snow? We’ve got that, too, with races in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, including the Arrowhead 135, a 135 mile-race across northern Minnesota. Participants run, ride bikes, or use cross-country skis. Participants require 14 to 36 hours–or even longer–depending on their discipline.
Muskegon, Michigan, has the distinction of having made two contributions to winter sports. First, it’s where Sherman Popper designed the Snurfer, the predecessor to today’s snowboard. It also has a luge track. It’s not quite Olympic-length, but it is accessible to anyone with a desire to learn.
— Material contributed by John LaPlante.