Korkki Nordic News, December 2015
View this email in your browser

The Future of Korkki Nordic 

Dear friends of Korkki Nordic,
For more than 40 years, Korkki has been a special place where folks of good character come to ski on old-fashioned single track through the snowy woods. We think you’ll agree that it’s been an amazing run so far.
This year Korkki is entering a new era. Mark Helmer, who has acted as the “Assistant Chief of Trails” since 1992, is retiring from Korkki’s Board of Directors (though he will still be grooming and managing the facilities). The current Board of Directors (Matt Miller, John Thomas, and Chris White) will be ushering the Korkki community into this new era.
To stay informed about exciting new developments, please visit our brand new website (a Facebook page is also coming soon!). To continue receiving this annual newsletter email, please subscribe online here.

Thank you for all your support over the years!
The Korkki Nordic Board

Some Big News

After more than 30 years, Mark Helmer has decided to retire from his role as “the Assistant Chief of Trails.” This is no small matter. Mark has brought Korkki to where it is today. In 1982 Mark started assisting his neighbor Charlie Banks (the original “Chief of Trails”) maintaining Charlie’s own personal ski trails. In 1992, after the death of Charlie’s wife, Mark helped Charlie open his private trails to the public, and form Korkki Nordic as a non-profit organization. Along with Charlie, he contributed his own property, built the warming hut and outbuildings, helped develop the trails, groomed daily when there was snow, answered phone calls, and tended Korkki’s heart and soul. It is because of Mark that Charlie Bank’s Korkki legacy continues today.

Photo (L to R): Mark Helmer with board members John Thomas and Matt Miller

Mark abhors the idea of recognition, but that’s not stopping us!  We’re collecting thank-you letters and cards from people who have enjoyed Korkki’s trails and community over the years. Please join us in thanking Mark. You can send your thank-you note to Mark at the address below, or send us an email with a message for him (we'll make sure they get to him).
Mailing Address:
Mark Helmer
c/o Korkki Nordic
1701 Korkki Road
Duluth, MN 55804
c/o Kelsey Jones-Casey
Kelsey Jones-Casey at


Membership - Join Korkki Nordic Ski Center 

We hope you’ll consider becoming a member of Korkki Nordic, and support the ski center’s operations. To do so, you can visit our online registration page. Korkki depends on members’ gifts (small and large) to keep the programs going. We’re all in this together! Why should you become a member? Members are people who commit to supporting Korkki through financial support or volunteering. They receive annual newsletters and other updates about the ski center’s happenings (by email or snail mail). We hope that you’ll join the Korkki community! 

Race Update

Korkki Nordic has been hosting local ski races since 1962. We hope you can join in the fun in 2016. Here is what is on the calendar for the 2016 ski season. Start doing your snow dances now!

Two Harbors High School Invitational – January 5th, 2016 (Tuesday)
For the last several years the Two Harbors High School Cross Country Ski Team has hosted this invitational race at Korkki. Nine area high schools participate (Duluth East, Denfeld, Marshall, Proctor, CED, Two Harbors, Grand Marais, Mesabi East/Virginia, Ely, Hibbing and Grand Rapids have all participated in the past). We love to see several hundred young racers compete in an old time single-track race – just like Charlie did in 1940! This year the THHS Invitational will be held on January 5th, starting at 11:00 AM. Contact Dave Johnson at (218) 348-1338 for more details.
Erik Judeen 10k Classic – February 7th, 2016 (Sunday)
The Erik Judeen Classic is one of the oldest races in Minnesota! Korkki Nordic has been hosting the Erik Judeen 10k Classic since 1962, and the race is still going strong after 53 years. This season’s race will be held on Sunday, February 7th. There are several events over the course of the day for all ages. Spectators are also welcome! For more details, please visit our new website (coming soon!).

  • 10:45 AM: Kid’s Race. The 1k kids’ race is FREE for youth 12 and under.
  • 11:00 AM: Adults’ Race (10k). The adults’ race is $25.00, and pre-registration is encouraged. To register online, click here. Registration forms are also available at The Ski Hut (1032 East 4th Street in Duluth). On site registration is also available on race day starting at 9:00 AM. 

Balsam Basher Fat Tire Bike Race – March 12th, 2016 (Saturday)
Come race your fatty on the ski trails at Korkki!  The 4th annual Balsam Basher promises to be even more fun than last year. Test your skills on Korkki’s challenging and beautiful course. The ski trails will be groomed for the best possible conditions. This year’s race will be on Saturday, March 12th. Registration will begin at 8:00 AM, and start time is at 10:00 AM. Registration is $25.00. Click here to register online. For more information, please contact Chris White at (218) 724-8525.
Bangin’ in the Brush – September 17th, 2016 (Saturday)
This race’s motto is “We run in rain, shine or snow!” We like to think this is the greatest trail race in…well…the world! Join us for a 10K jaunt up hills, through mud, and over streams. Once you’re done there is a fun awards ceremony with lots of door prizes. And overall winners get their names added to the race trophy. Register by 9/2/16 for a discounted rate ($20.00), or register on-site the day of the race for $25.00. There’s also a kids’ race, free to all young’uns. For more information, call Dave Johnson (218) 348-1338. Click here to register online.

Calling all Photos and Stories!

Remember that one really big fall you took on Cook’s Fall trail? Or the time Ryan lost his shoe in the mud during Banging in the Brush? Remember the time you won a pack of Thunder Cookies and ate them all in one sitting? Tell us your stories!  We are collecting stories and photographs about Korkki Nordic, which will be shared in future newsletters and archived to share with all of you at the ski center and online. Send your story to Kelsey Jones-Casey at Thanks!

Gratitude for our Committed Sponsors

Korkki Nordic is a community affair. Several local businesses and organizations have supported Korkki Nordic year after year, through both financial gifts and in-kind donations (like race prizes and snacks). The following business have made Korkki what it is today though their contributions. Thank you so much!

  • The Ski Hut
  • Austin Jarrow
  • The New Scenic Café
  • Coop Light and Power
  • Andersons Greenhouse
  • Grandma’s Marathon

Classic Korkki - A Reflection

By Eric Chandler
Eric Chandler and FamilyIf you’re old enough, you might remember grundvalla. If you know what that is, then you had wooden cross-country skis. Life was simpler. After the sport split into “freestyle” and “classic” techniques in the early 80’s, everything changed. I’ll admit ditching the diagonal stride. I was a kid ski racer who wanted to go fast and you did that by skating. I got fiberglass skis. I got a fancy Lycra racing suit. The whole deal. I’m still semi-serious about my preparation for skating technique ski races. But when I need inspiration more than another freestyle workout, my family goes to Korkki Nordic Ski Center near Two Harbors, MN. The trails are classic only and transport us back in time.
Head north from Duluth on the Homestead Road from Highway 61 between Two Harbors and Duluth. Just after cresting a big hill, take a left on Korkki Road. Take a right in a half-mile and you’re there. There’s a small cabin with a woodstove. Grab a check or some cash, and make a small donation if you can. Between ski loops, I love to page through the guestbook while my kids are drawing pictures with crayons. You’ll read entries in the guestbook that testify to skier ecstasy. The old black-and-white ski pictures on the wall and Olympic bib numbers worn by homegrown athletes make this small hut a memorial to local Nordic skiing royalty.
The true shrine is the Charlie Banks Ski Trail system, dedicated to the legendary Duluth skier and coach. There are 10 kilometers of trail that afford you cutoffs for shorter options. I like Dorothy’s Loop near the start. It’s just over a half mile around, but I get to see the white world of snow through the fresh eyes of my kids. My 6-year old schusses down something I consider a bump, but he thinks is the thrill of a lifetime. The smiles come thick and fast as we follow the chickadees through a frosted evergreen tunnel. Before there’s a complaint, you’re back at the start and it’s probably time for a snack and hot chocolate. Before round two with the kids, my wife and I will usually take turns going for a longer solo ski…(read the rest of this essay here).

Copyright © 2015 Korkki Nordic Ski Center, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Korkki Nordic Ski Center
1701 Korkki Road
Duluth, MN 55804

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list