Ex-Olympian evaluates Duluth’s cross-country ski trailsFormer U.S. Olympic cross-country skier John Aalberg of Oslo, Norway, spent five days in Duluth this week to offer his evaluation of Duluth’s ski trails. He liked what he saw.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Former U.S. Olympic cross-country skier John Aalberg of Oslo, Norway, spent five days in Duluth this week to offer his evaluation of Duluth’s ski trails. He liked what he saw.
“You don’t realize how good it is here, but you’re not utilizing it yet,” Aalberg said. “The potential is great. There should be more people knowing this. With a little bit of work, you can promote and do big strides.”
Aalberg, 51, was contracted by the Duluth Cross-Country Ski Club to offer his assessment of Duluth’s trails as the city looks toward a mini-master plan for those trails. Aalberg was chief of competition for Nordic skiing at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and directed the Nordic venue for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He works for a nonprofit foundation in Oslo that manages 1,500 miles of cross-country trails in the city.
Aalberg came to the U.S. from Norway at age 22 to ski for the University of Utah, and went on to represent the United States at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992 and at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994.
While here, Aalberg had dinner one evening with Mayor Don Ness to talk about Duluth’s potential as a cross-country skiing destination. Aalberg visited all of Duluth’s ski trail systems, including Chester Park, Hartley, Piedmont, Lester-Amity, Spirit Mountain and Magney-Snively.
“It’s good to get the perspective of someone like John. There are some things he can see that we don’t see,” said Tony Shoberg, president of DXC. “There are some things we’re working toward, like better grooming.”
While Duluth has some excellent trails, Aalberg said the city needs an event center with a
stadium area in order to stage large races. The city also needs to develop trails with plenty of hills in loops close to those event centers, he said.
“If you have no event center, you’re at the recreational level,” Aalberg said. “I think a place like this should have an event center.”
While here, Aalberg also was hired by the city of Duluth to help estimate how much it will cost to repair ski trails damaged by flooding in June. Those estimates will be forwarded to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by the city.
DXC plans to take some of Aalberg’s suggestions, add other ideas and forward them to the city for its planning process, Shoberg said.