At the age of 2, Victor C. Dunder immigrated to Two Harbors, Minnesota, from Sweden with his family. He ended up coaching skiing at Duluth Central. In 1931, he set up the first high school Nordic ski competition in the nation. And In 1932, he hosted the first Minnesota State Ski Meet.
An award, the Victor C. Dunder award, has been named after him, “the Father of High School Skiing in both Minnesota and the Nation.”
Not only did one Maple Grove Senior High School student receive this award this past winter, the student also received the star treatment at a local ski shop.
Ruth Cahill said her son Myles Brown won the award for Nordic skiing. She said the award is given out by high school coaches for new athletes to the sport in grades seventh to 12th that did well that season. The award is designed to help promising first year skiers obtain needed equipment.
The award is provided by Minnesota ski shops and the Minnesota State High School Nordic Ski Coaches Association.
Myles was nominated based on coaches recommendation, his application and financial need. His coach is also a current member of the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association.
“It was my son’s first time out in Nordic Skiing and he started at the bottom of the heap and ended up on the Varsity squad,” Cahill said. “He loved the sport. The coach, Matt Gifford and the team were great. He came home one day from school and practice and said, ‘Mom, these are my people!’ ”
Cahill said her son received paperwork about the award he received. “It said to make an appointment with Adam Johnson at Pioneer Midwest, which we did Aug. 26. Adam went way above and beyond, for not only Myles, but for the kids to follow after him as well,” she said.
Johnson told Cahill and Myles that he was also a skier in high school at Champlin Park and skied for St. John’s.
“After a conversation with Myles about the type of skiing he likes, how he did his first year and other sports he participates in as well as gathering personal information about Myles’s height, weight and shoe size, Adam picked out specific boots he thought would work best for Myles as well as all the other equipment,” Cahill said. “Knowing the equipment would live on at Maple Grove Senior High, Adam picked out equipment to stand the test of time.”
This award is a legacy award, so Myles will use the equipment for as long as he continues in the sport of Nordic skiing. Skis and equipment are awarded to the award winning skier’s team. The skier may borrow the skis as long as they are on the team. Upon graduation the awarded equipment will stay with the team to benefit other high school skiers.
Matt Liebsch, co-owner of Pioneer Midwest, said at the shop they were able to custom fix the skis and gear specifically to Myles. The gear Myles received were boots, bindings (holds boots to the skis), and skis.
“We really try to find the best ski equipment possible for every customer,” he added. “They are all very unique as most of the racing skis are handmade.”
Cahill said Johnson and Pioneer Midwest are a local gem. “What Myles and the school received in equipment, I could have never done myself,” she said. “Adam runs a great business and so we’re so glad to have him and his time so close to home and school.”
Liebsch added, “We are a small local ski shop that loves to get people into the sport of cross country skiing.”
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