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‘Firm deck’ for Finlandia

Groomers rolled the Minnesota Finlandia Ski Race course at Buena Vista twice Thursday. Trail grooming director Mark Morrissey leads volunteer groomers Robert Saxton and Levi Ronnander through the course to set the final track for Saturday’s race. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – While the majority of northern Minnesotans spent Sunday looking out their windows, dreading the shoveling to come, organizer’s of the Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon were thinking quite the opposite.

“It’s for the good,” Mike Huerbin said of the foot-plus of snow dumped on Bemidji Sunday.

But, ironically, that much snow means less work. Saturday’s event at Buena Vista Ski Area apparently has nothing to do with mathematics.

Huerbin, a race organizer and a man who knows well the work involved with putting together the racecourse, said prep time for the race is down compared to past years.

“One year we had a melt- down the week of and we had a river running underneath the course,” he said. “Other years we’ve had to shovel snow off of lakes to get enough for the course.”

Not so for 2013’s contest.

Since Sunday’s storm, Huerbin said, registration for the race has doubled. Between 270 and 300 people are expected to participate. Warm temperatures this week have added to mother nature’s assistance in preparing the course.

“We wanted a little bit of a warm-up because it was a little too fluffy,” Huerbin said. “It increases the speed and the safety. You want a ‘firm deck’ as we call it.”

For the first time in a few years, crews preparing the course used Buena Vista’s PistenBully for six hours Tuesday to clear excess snow.

Skiiers from Norway, Canada and the United States will participate in five different races Saturday, and they’ll have their “firm deck.”

“Probably the past half dozen years we’ve had issues with low snow or snow melting right before the event,” Huerbin said. “It’s a little unusual to us to have too much snow.”

Unusual, but welcome.

If You Go

What: 33rd Annual      Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: Buena Vista Ski Area

For registration times and race schedules, visit

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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