The Eric Judeen Memorial Korkki Nordic 10K Ski Race: Enjoying the trails

Published: Mar. 5, 2023 at 5:49 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. -- Skiing in the Eric Judeen Memorial 10K Korkki Nordic Ski Race was a long-time goal for 77-years-old Ahvo Taipale.

“When I came to this country from Finland, I heard about the Korkki Nordic,” said Taipale. “Never did I make it here until this Sunday.”

Taipale was no stranger to skiing when he moved to St. Paul in 1971.

“I have skied so many trails in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other parts of the U.S.,” said Taipale. “I never did the Korkkie Nordic, and I decided I must come here.”

Taipale’s history with ski racing runs deep in the Northland, participating in the Kortelopet, Berkiebeiner, and more.

But for him, the Korkki Nordic offered an experience that reminded him of home.

“It’s just a quick ski in the woods, it reminds me of the days in the 50′s and 60′s in Finland where you went out in the woods, and you did your double track, and that was it,” Taipale said.

After years of racing, his love of skiing never faded.

“Now it is more about just coming and seeing the camaraderie of the old friends,” said Taipale. “It is really a lifestyle.”

Whether strangers or friends, you could feel the skier’s excitement in the air as they prepared to ski through a part of the northern forest.

“You know we see that a lot,” said Jon Hendrikson, a board member for the Korkki Nordic. “Even when we come here throughout the winter, you’ll see people that come back and ski this trail and say I’ve been here five years ago or 50 years ago.”

From college athletes to kids racing for the first time, dozens came out to celebrate the final day of the Tour Duluth Cross Country Skiing Celebration to hit the trails at one of the oldest Nordic ski races in the U.S.

“It’s a big weekend for skiing in the northland,” said Hendrikson. “We are really happy to just have this race in an informal way for folks to just come out and have fun, maybe celebrate past victories and just enjoy themselves on a beautiful day.”

As for Taipale, he was more than ready to take off in a race he knows as the natural nature event and enjoy his love for the sport.

“So many old friends are here,” Taipale said. “It’s a lifestyle, it is enjoyment of the nature, and the benefits you get physically, mentally when you get out in the woods. I like to get it every day, every morning, year-round.”

The top three males and top three females to cross the finish line first recieved awards.