Racing Team 2009-2010

December 15, 2009

The Race Team is composed of top Midwest skiers with the goal to be competitive both as individuals as well as a team, while still remaining integrated with the skiing community. Team members are heavily involved in setting the direction, composition, and concept of the organization.


The Skinnyski Race Team is supported by a number of great organizations including:  Hidden Bay Sports, Fast Wax, and Maplelag Resort.


Race Team Members

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Per Nelson -- Woodbury, MN

Per Nelson works as a Chemist at 3M/Dyneon.

During the summer, Per has enjoyed coaching the Finn Sisu Juniors evening group for about 9 years. The last three years he has benefited greatly from working with the Finn Sisu Vakava Racing group. He feels that the group has brought focus, camaraderie and a lot of fun to year round training.

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Margaret Nelson -- Woodbury, MN

Margie Nelson works part time as a physical therapist and spends the rest of her time having fun with her son George.

Margie been racing since 8th grade for St. Louis Park, St Olaf, and now Skinnyski. She is trying to find a balance between work, motherhood and ski training.

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SisuSkiers, Endurance Athlete

Ben Popp -- Lake Elmo, MN

Ben Popp runs SisuSkiers, a Twin Cities based ski training group, as well as his own endurance training program, Endurance Athlete, out of St. Paul MN.

Ben is a stay-at-home dad, raising his two young sons with his wife, Megan. In 2009, Ben completed the solo division in the Race Across America (RAAM).



John Munger -- Minneapolis, MN

John Munger is an attorney and the executive director of the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation. He is married to Diana Liu Munger. They have two children: Ellie, age 8, and Lauren, age 5.

John claims a dismal 2007-2008 ski season (too much work, illness, etc.) but plans to be back in force this year.

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David Nelson -- Medicine Lake, MN

David Nelson is a circuit designer of radiation hardened satellite ASICs designer (a rocket scientist of sorts).

David's son Karl has caused him to completely redesign his training regimen. David is most excited about his new secret training method that he is modeling after Milo of Crotona. He has been skiing with Karl in a backpack on rollerskis and now on snow. The results have already been dramatic. Less than a year ago he was skiing with 8lb Karl and now he is a much bigger load at 25lbs. But like Milo and the Bull, David has grown in strength as Karl has grown in weight.



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Josie Nelson -- Medicine Lake, MN

Josie Nelson quit her job as a physical therapist last winter, and feels incredibly blessed to get to care for her son Karl full time. She is married to David Nelson (the one with the big red beard).

Josie had her most exciting ski season last year, as Karl was born on January 30th. Her new improved training plan includes high repetitions of squats (to pick things up off the floor) while holding a 25 pound weight (Karl). She is very excited to portray Inga, the mother of Prince Haakon (Karl) in this year's American Birkebeiner.

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Grant Nelson -- Duluth, MN

Grant Nelson is a partner in a growing general dentist practice in downtown Duluth.

Grant Nelson is a dentist in Duluth & thouroughly enjoys exercising & training with his wife, Elaine.  Grant often describes his racing as "I race to train."  Signing up for the races just encourages him to get out & train more.  In addition to ski racing in the winter, Grant enjoys running, biking, canoeing, camping & just about anything to do outside.  He often spends his non-training free time working on the "easy finishing touches" on their home in Duluth.




Elaine Nelson -- Duluth, MN

Elaine Nelson (formerly Eggleston) is an associate veterinarian in the Duluth area.

Although Elaine will forever be a distance runner, her husband is slowly turning her into a nordic skier.  This year, Grant bought wooden rollerskis, complete with a brake.  The first time out, Elaine was pretty hesitant, but quickly grew to love these rollerskis and has been working hard on her skate technique during the summer/fall months.  She has also been doing hill bounding and pole running, especially with her two high-energy dogs.  The summer training program included plenty of running, canoeing and some mountain biking.  She and her husband also competed in running races and a few triathlons (canoe, mountain bike, run).  During the winter, she enjoys volunteering with one of the local high school nordic ski teams.  This year, Elaine is excited to improve her technique (in both classical and skate) as well as increase her skills as a ski racer.

Other Sponsors
Maplelag Resort

Jay Richards -- Callaway, MN

Jay Nelson is one of the owners/operators and head groomer at Maplelag Resort.

Jay is an elite level Mountain Bike racer, taking 4th overall in the expert class and age class champion (35 and over) of the 2008 MNSCS series, as well a mixed tandem victory with his wife, Jonell, in the 2007 Short and Fat MTB race. Jay volunteers time to help area high school skiers with their training and was named MSHSNCA Volunteer of the Year in 2007.

(Photo: Scott Nesvold)

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Paulette Niemi -- Ironwood, MI

Paulette is the Transition Services Coordinator for the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermed. School District.

Paulette has been x-c skiing for over 20 years. Cross country skiing and racing is a family affair with boys Nick (9), Anthony (7), and husband, Ray, making tracks at the local trails as well as getting in some racing. For winter fun, when she isn't x-c skiing, Paulette also enjoys downhill skiing with family and snowshoeing.
When the snow goes (April in Big Snow Country), it's on to summer fun with waterskiing, hiking, biking, running in 10K races, camping, gardening and pretty much anything outdoors.
Paulette is busy working with youth ski program in their local school system. "I'd love to see more of our kids out enjoying the snow, " she says.

(Photo: Scott Nesvold)

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Mark Parman -- Wausau, WI

Mark Parman teaches English and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon Center in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Although cross country skiing is his favorite winter activity, Mark indulges in many winter sports: skijoring, snowshoeing, Telemarking and ice blading. In the brown months, he also believes in a well-rounded program of cycling, trail running, canoeing, fire wooding and upland hunting.

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Ski Hut

Michelle Flanagan-Haag -- Duluth, MN

Michelle works as a CRNA (Nurse Anesthetist) at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth.

Michelle's favorite activities are anything that has to do with being outside all day. In the summer months, she loves road biking and explore new places. One of her favorite rides is from Seeley to Duluth (100+ miles).  Half marathons, mountain bike racing, kayaking, and camping with her husband, Mike and dog, Teak, are also at the top of her summer list. Michelle loves cross country skiing and chasing races with her husband. Her fondest Birkebeiner was one in which Josie Nelson and I sang throughout most of the race! You'll frequently find her helping with ski clinics for women through Ski Hut or teaching parent-ski through the Duluth X-C Club. This season, she is also working to raise donations for the M.S. Society.

Chip Tabor -- Medicine Lake, MN

Chip Tabor is an engineer at Medtronic working on transcatheter valve technologies.

Chip, like many of his fellow Skinnyski race team members, has been skiing for a very long time.  Chip, perhaps unlike many of his fellow Skinnyski race team members, has continued to further procrastinate with the ski season preparations each season over the past years (to ensure he is bringing full enthusiasm to the trails once the snow begins to fly ... or at least that's what he claims!).  He finds himself enjoying more and more the simple act of getting out and skiing for fun, but also still looks forward to challenging the old engine with racing.  He now lives in St. Louis Park, enjoying the close proximity to the Theodore Wirth park ski trails.


The Race Team is also indebted to the support of past team members Maria Stewart, Sonja Bostrom, Brian May, Abbi May, Jill Troutner, and Siiri Morse.

If you'd like more information, or to become part of this racing team, as a racer, sponsor, or support person, we'd love to hear from you! E-mail us at