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Skiers at Snowjourn shorter this year: Organizers add middle school 5K race

A new wrinkle this year at the Buena Vista Snowjourn was a a middle school cross country race on Saturday morning. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
John Tibstra (left) and Roger Jarvi are longtime participants in the Buena Vista Snowjourn, which was held on Saturday morning. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 2 / 2

BEMIDJI — Thirty-four years ago, more than 300 skiers were spotted trekking the trails at Buena Vista Ski Area in Bemidji for the Snowjourn cross country event.

There were 49 competitors in the Buena Vista Snowjourn race on Saturday.

Snowjourn race director Bruce Slinkman said a new element was added to the traditional 12K cross country ski race. A middle school 5K freestyle race debuted at the 34th Buena Vista Snowjourn.

“We want to keep middle schoolers engaged in skiing,” Slinkman said. “Their ski team season ends in mid-February.”

Twelve year old Kaija Matalamaki thanked Slinkman for including a middle school race this year. “It was a lot of fun,” Matalamaki said, admitting that she wiped out a couple times.

Matalamaki was one of nine members who participated in Snowjourn from the Bemidji Middle School cross-country ski team.

“We always like to have higher numbers, but it’s a little later in the season and there are other things that happen on weekends,” Slinkman said.

Slinkman said the decline in participants and spectators is likely due to more recreational options these days. In 1976, when Bemidji State University hosted the first Buena Vista Snowjourn, there were fewer activities. Minnesota Finlandia took control of the race in the early 1990s.

Roger Jarvi participated in the first Buena Vista Snowjourn and has never missed a race. Jarvi agreed with Slinkman’s point on more activities contributing to fewer skiers, but that’s not the only reason.

“So many old timers have passed away,” Jarvi said.

Jarvi and the late Lloyd Johnson skied every Snowjourn since it began. In 1996, the Johnson-Jarvi Award was created to recognize someone who has demonstrated long-term support and commitment of cross country skiing in the Bemidji area. Johnson died in 2008.

Slinkman said he has been using social media, which is popular with younger people, to help promote ski events. He said the health angle is appealing to people wanting to get fit since skiing is one of the best aerobic methods of physical fitness.

“The ski community is optimistic that the numbers will continue to grow,” Slinkman said. “The Bemidji area has a lot to offer.”

Slinkman said weather conditions Saturday were ideal for a race day. Skiers glided across powder white trails under sunny, clear skies in temperatures in the teens — above zero. Snowjourn 2014 was originally scheduled for March 1 but was postponed due to the extreme cold weather Minnesota has come to know too well this winter. Four Snowjourns have been cancelled due to extreme cold or lack of snow.

“Sometimes you’ll have a race in a snowstorm,” Slinkman said. “That’s part of skiing, adjusting to the conditions.”

Buena Vista Snowjourn is Bemidji’s oldest ski event. Classical and skate skiers skied the Minnesota Finlandia Ski Marathon course on Buena Vista’s west side. Tour skiers had the option of four, seven or 12K distances. Slinkman said most skiers finish the course in 1.5 hours.

Skiers retreated to the barrel-stove heated Logging Heritage Museum hall of fame lodge after crossing the finish line for an awards ceremony that included top male and female finishers along with presentation of the Johnson-Jarvi Snowjourn Award.

Buena Vista Snowjourn 2014 results

Female 12K freestyle

1. Morgan Sagedah, 16, Bemidji, 35:44

2. Atomic Thorson, 16, Bemidji, 41:38

3. Lisa Martin, 45, Bemidji, 42:58

4. Muriel Gilman, 63, Bemidji, 43:06

5. Deanne Kivi, 43, Bemidji, 47:31

6. Quinn Schollett, 14, Bemidji, 47:56

7. Wanda Arenz, 74, Cass Lake, 59:22

Male 12K freestyle

1. Kyle Sagedahl, 18, Bemidji, 30:02

2. Ryan Rogers, 34, Bemidji, 30:10

3. Brad Kuzel, 33, Guthrie, 30:11

4. Billy Freyholtz, 17, Pennington, 32:17

5. Mark Walters, 55, Bemidji, 32:20

6. Chris Hanson, 43, Nisswa, 32:30

7. Desi Sagedahl, 51, Bemidji, 35:54

8. Jon Shorter, 56, Bemidji, 35:56

9 Michael Meehlhause, 24, Bemidji, 39:22

10. Mike Johnson, 48, Minneapolis, 40:49

11. Bill Scheela, 65, Bemidji, 50:57

12. Douglas Johnson, 63, Bemidji 1:10:57

Female 12K Classic

1. Jenna Truedson, 16, Bemidji, 39:54

2. Darla Lenz, 48, Bemidji, 59:57.

Male 12K Classic

1. Joseph Dubay, 23, Coon Rapids, 31:00

2. Leif Ronnander, 26, Bemidji, 34:17

3. Tony Sagedahl, 18, Bemidji, 35:12

4. David Harrington, 54, Turtle River, 44:39

5. Richard Dubay, 57, Coon Rapids, 49:17

6. Pat Donnay, 52, Bemidji, 52:26

7. James Dickinson, 54, Crystal, 1:07:17

Female 6K Tour

1. Tracey Kelsey, 29, NA, 56:34

2. Buni Slinkman, 63, Bemidji, 56:38

Male 6K Tour

1. Max Kelsey, 31, NA, 32:08

2. Mitch Blessing, 39, Bemidji, 32:09

3. John Tibstra, 62, Bemidji, 51:52

4. Roger Jarvi, 63, Bemidji, 56:41

5. Brian Hudson, 67, Bemidji, 1:06:56

Female 12K Wood Classic

1. Angie Nistler, 49, Turtle River, 57:51

Male 12K Wood Classic

1. Tom Bakke, 31, Bemidji, 55:38

2. Lee Scotland, 64, Bemidji, 1:04:53

3. Daniel Domeier, 57, Bemidji, 1:05:10

Female 5K Middle School Race

1. Kendra Kehoe, 12, Bemidji, 24:01

2. Jill Serleth, 11, Bemidji, 26:33

3. Kaija Matalmaki, 12, Bemidji, 31:05

Male 5K Middle School Race

1. Joseph Rowland, 12, Bemidji, 21:19

2. Sam Hodgson, 14, Bemidji, 21:43

3. Riley Schollett, 12, Bemidji, 22:12

4. Louis Saxton, 11, Bemdji, 22:23

5. Tommy Saxton, 14, Bemdji, 23:27

6. Isaac Treuer, 12, Bemidji, 29:15

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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