March 2006 Happenings
Swedetown Trails offer great conditions for Great Bear Chase Mar. 12
|Editor's Note: Parts of this article appeared in Michele Anderson's article, "Skiing Paradise in the
U.P.," published in the December 2005 issue of Silent Sports
magazine and are reprinted here with permission.
CALUMET -- Local and visiting cross-country skiers report very good conditions on
Calumet's Swedetown Trails for the River Valley State Bank Great Bear Chase, scheduled to take place
on Sunday, March 12. The 26-km Classic begins at 8:40 a.m., the 50 km Freestyle
race begins at 9 a.m., and the 26-km Freestyle race starts at 9:10 a.m.
Mark Jindrich of Calumet, a Copper Island Cross-Country Ski Club member who skis the trails
nearly every day, confirmed very good snow conditions despite recent warmer temperatures.
Jindrich, who also volunteers at Swedetown Chalet, said parents of skiers in the Junior
Olympics (J.O) races held this week at the Michigan Tech Trails in Houghton, came to ski at
Swedetown on Tuesday and Thursday during some off-time at the J.O. competition and were
excited about the Swedetown Trails.*
|Skiers take off for the 2005 Great Bear Chase
race at Swedetown Trails in Calumet. (Photo © 2005 Adam Johnson of Brockit.com.
Reprinted with permission.)*
"They loved them, and they thought the conditions were excellent," Jindrich said.
He noted the visitors bought a record number of day passes at the Chalet on Thursday,
Mar. 9. The J.O. parents came from as far away as Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho and
"We sold about 90 day passes by the end of the day," Jindrich said. "That's
twice the previous record for one day."
Registration for the Bear Chase race is at Cross Country Sports, 507 Oak Street in Calumet today, Friday, until 6 p.m. ($55) and on Saturday, Mar. 11, from Noon to 8 p.m. ($60).
Bib pickup is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Mar. 12, at Cross Country Sports.
Please note that there is no race-day registration and it is too late for online registration.
Rick Oikarinen, Cross Country Sports owner and former Bear Chase Race director, said about
300 skiers had registered as of Friday morning, Mar. 10, and race officials anticipate a
total of 500-550 skiers for the race.
"Everybody waits till the last minute to see what the weather's doing," Oikarinen said.
He noted this is the 26th year of the race and it has only been cancelled twice, once for
lack of snow and once (in 2002) when a wind storm knocked trees onto the trails. This year
the warm weather should not be a problem, he added.
|Skiers climb one of Swedetown's challenging
hills during the sunny day of the 2001 Great Bear Chase. (File photo by Michele
"Our snow depth (about three feet) is so good I don't see how we would postpone or cancel
it," Oikarinen said. "Depending on what the weather does, these could be some of the best
conditions we've ever had."
Located just about 12 miles north of Houghton in 1400 acres of forest, the Swedetown Trails
are groomed daily for both skating and striding in a variety of terrain, including a scenic
back-country trail. The Copper Island Cross-Country Ski Club, in cooperation with Calumet
Township, maintains Swedetown’s 30 kilometers of beginning, intermediate and advanced trails, including a lighted trail of 4.5 km that allows skiing until 10 p.m. Since 1991,
skiers have had the use of a beautiful, heated chalet with snack bar, restrooms and waxing
facilities. Near the chalet a groomed sledding hill offers more family fun. The snow usually
stays a bit longer in Calumet, often allowing a lengthy spring skiing season into April.
|Swedetown signs clearly mark the trails, from
beginner to advanced. (Keweenaw Now file photo by Michele Anderson)
This year the Bear Chase Race is officially called the River Valley State Bank Great Bear
Chase, since the bank is now a financial sponsor. Main Street Calumet, a non-profit
organization promoting commercial district revitalization through historic preservation and
economic development, is the new director of the race, replacing Rick Oikarinen, the
original and longtime director.
“We’re counting on him (Rick) to make the race awards presentation as he has for the past 25
years,” said Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director.
Said Oikarinen, "I've agreed to do that."
Junior Bear Chase to be held at MTU Trails
This year the Junior Bear Chase will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 11, at the Michigan
Tech Trails in Houghton. It includes classic and free style for young skiers up to 16 years
old. There will be only one race this year, with different age groups racing distances from
.8k to 6k. Registration/Bib pick-up is from 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Michigan Tech
trailhead. Fees: $5 in advance. $7 day of race. The race is sponsored by the Copper Country
Ski Tigers (youth Nordic ski organization). For details see the Junior Bear Chase Web site.
For more details on the Great Bear Chase, including the schedule of events,
visit the Bear Chase Web site.
*Photographer Adam Johnson, a Keweenaw Now contributor, is posting his photos of the Junior
Olympics on his Web site. See http://brockit.smugmug.com/jo.
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