The crowd may have been smaller than usual but the fun was big time at the NASJA annual meeting March 18 through 22 at Lutsen MN.
Lutsen's Mr Everything Jim Vick was in change of the program which included ice climbing and snowshoe cantilevering and snowmobiling and print making. There was some great food at local restaurants and a fascinating evening at the North House Folk School in nearby Grand Marias where people come from all over the world to follow the theme "Why buy it if you can build it."
The skiing was pretty good too. Granted, as a ski venue,Lutsen has less than 1,000 feet of vertical. But it has plenty of horizontal across four mountains. The terrain ranged from the comfy "Big Bunny" to "The Plunge" which saw many of our finest take a couple of chicken turns at the start.
There was a fine race course set too with most of those who entered finishing with times in the 50-60 second range. The winner was Neal Estano who recently gave up the flats of Baltimore to return the airwaves of New York's Capital District. Neal beat the pacesetter in the race and just edged Frida Warra for the NASJA title. Skis for the week were provided by Elan, Head, and K-2. On the professional development side, Mark Hansen of the Folk School gave a great presentation mixing the making of wooden skis with the intramural affairs of Scandinavians in the upper Midwest and Chris Stoddard provided information on skiing throughout the Midwest
At the annual; meeting, Bob Cox was re-elected to a second two year term as President of NASJA. Dino Vournas will step into the meetings VP seat, Chris Dehnel will serve as the Communications VP and Greg Snow takes over the Awards duties. The 2010 annual meeting originally scheduled for the Tamarack Resort, now closed, will be moved elsewhere in Idaho. The 2011 meeting is set for the Alaska's Alyeska Resort in conjunction with the Anchorage Visitor's Bureau. The banquet the final evening was held in the upper mountain Summit Chalet, highlighted as usual by the presentations of the 2009 Harold Hirsch Awards for excellence in ski journalism. (Check out the video of the presentation done by Dino Vournas and Greg Snow featuring the always melodic tones of Curtis Fong) US Ski and Snowboard Team VP for Communications Tom Kelly gave a spirited presentation on team prospects for next year's Vancouver Winter Olympics. Kelly was the winner of this year's Bob Gillen Award. NASJA's other two major award winners, Peter Ingvoldstad of Smugglers' Notch VT, Lifetime Achievement, and Art Bowles from Breckenridge CO, Carson White Golden Quill, were in attendance to receive their awards in person. Lindsey Vonn was voted Competitor of the Year. The evening ended for many in Papa Charlie's where a Finnish Reggae band contributed to the glow of those who came to Lutsen.