Join the club: Enthusiast looks to form cross-country ski group

Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You might say Kjell Risung is a skier with a single-track mindset.

The 46 year-old central peninsula resident, who learned to ski in his native Norway shortly after learning to walk, grew up competitively skiing.

Somewhere along in his mid-20s however, he put the skis into storage and never brought them back out.

Now the classic skier is flying along the track again, and looking for other local skiers to follow in his draft or even get out front as he works to create a ski club.

"You don't have to be competitive, you can just want to get in shape," Risung said, describing who he expects the club to appeal to.

"I want to help people along and have a great ski community," he said.

Risung is spearheading an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Skyview High School Library.

Along with discussing the creation of a ski club that will appeal to skiers aged from high school and up, he'll also have door prizes available and show a short movie.

Although warmer temperatures and a stronger sun are heralding the end of the ski season, Risung said he wanted to start work on creating a club now while many skiers are still in their groove.

He said he encourages any level of skier interested in working on their technique to come out to the meeting and help lay the groundwork for the club.

Before the meeting Risung plans to meet with a few volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their coaching expertise next year.

He said he see's himself as the visionary of this organization, and compared it to clubs in his homeland.

"In Norway everything is focused around club skiing," he said.

Risung said he also hopes he can be a bit of an inspiration.

In the spring of 2008 Risung visited family on the other side of the Arctic. One of his brothers had skied in the Vasaloppet, a historic 90-kilometer ski race held annually in Sweden.

His brother's accomplishment inspired Risung to click back in, and he started training before he even left Northern Europe.

He also locked himself into several races so he had something to train for.

Perhaps the biggest race he committed to however, was the American Birkebeiner, a 51-kilometer ski race from Cable to Hayward, Wis.

Risung went up against 1,245 other skiers in the classic race, and finished 27th overall. Closer to home, the skier who'd been off his skies for two decades, placed second overall and first in his age group in the 25-kilometer classic Tour of Anchorage.

In the process of all his training, Risung has attained an obvious new level of fitness, shedding 40 pounds and slimming his body mass index, from a gainley 28 to an a super athletic 14. A normal BMI is from 18.5 to 24.9.

Risung said he hopes his feats will show other skiers what they can accomplish just by enjoying the trails in their back yards.

Dante Petri can be reached at

Get invloved:

What: Tsalteshi Nordic/Masters' Skiing Program informational and organizational meeting.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday,

Where: Skyview High School Library

Who: Geared toward skiers high school age and older led by Kjell Risung.

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