The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Commissioners hear Sisu Ski Fest update


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Will Bomier of Barnum, Minn., works with his skis before entering the bib pickup at Main Street Fitness in downtown Ironwood after completing the Sisu Ski Fest Saturday, Jan. 7.


Ironwood - The Sisu Ski Fest committee is again accepting applications for grants to local organizations that promote silent sports, especially cross country skiing.

Race director Jackie Powers told the city commission Monday that in its eight years, the Ironwood ski race has contributed more than $35,000 directly into the community, including about $20,000 in grants.

Commissioner Rick Semo noted there are two grant periods, in March and July. He said a grant can be for as much as $1,000.

The committee awards a total of $3,000 in grants annually.

Powers said past grant recipients have included the Ironwood Area Schools, for ski equipment, $7,500; the Gogebic Community College Foundation, $1,500, for scholarships; the Hurley School District ski program, $2,600; Miners Memorial Heritage Park, grooming equipment, $1,699, and Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield cheerleaders, who cheer at the finish line, $1,200, along with other lesser amounts.

City of Ironwood contributions from Sisu have totaled more than $10,000. "We thank the city for its cooperation," she said.

In turn, Powers said the Active Backwoods Retreat cross country ski business has contributed $7,150 to Sisu Ski Fest efforts, including trail development assistance.

She added that the ski fest has spent more than $200,000 over the past eight years within a 10-mile radius of Ironwood.

Powers said the feedback from this year's racers was positive, despite the minus-8 degree race starting temperature, the coldest in race history, and the shortened course.

"Participants appreciated the precautions we took to ensure a safe event for those who braved the frigid temperatures," she said. Some racers were treated for frostbite and hypothermia.

A total of 608 people registered for the Jan. 7, race but only 480 picked up their packets and 436 finished.

A total of 35 people participated in the snowshoe event.

Powers said the racers enjoy the small-town feel of the event and its affordability.

Regarding improvements that lie ahead, she said better grading is needed on Auvinen's Hill, where a steep, sharp curve gets icy and that leads to many crashes.

Cleaner snow at the road and street crossings is another priority, but that's subject to weather conditions and availability of snow.

Commissioner Jim Mildren said the event brings new people into the community every year, some who have never visited Ironwood before. Many come back, he noted.

Mayor Annette Burchell said providing ski equipment for area youngsters will pay off in the long run as the children get interested in the healthy sport.

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