John Filander, Giants Ridge Winter Sports Director, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Nordic Ski Association(MNSA). Filander has played a key role in Nordic skiing in Minnesota and on the Iron Range by organizing events, and overseeing trail maintenance and recreational land usage for the past 27 years at Giants Ridge. “I am blessed and honored to receive this award,” said Filander. “Giants Ridge has played a major role in the development of Nordic skiing in Minnesota, and it has been a pleasure to be part of it.”
Filander has been a central force in the many Nordic events hosted at Giant Ridge, including the Pepsi Challenge; International Classic races; multiple World Cups; multiple Junior Olympics; numerous Olympic trials; ski clinics; the Mesabi East-Giants Ridge Invitational (the largest high school cross-country event in the nation); and, the Minnesota State High School Cross-Country Ski championships.
“Nordic skiing remains a strong draw among youth,” said Filander. “I am confident the sport will continue to grow locally and in Minnesota. In fact, Giants Ridge is touted as the best trails in the nation by many skiers due to the variety of terrain.”
Additionally, as a qualified Technical Delegate, Filander has officiated at World Cup, Olympic Trials National Championships, and many Birkies. He also served as Assistant Chief of Course at Soldier Hollow at the Salt Lake Olympics where he led 80 volunteer course workers in setting up course signage and markings, along with trail grooming.
Filander began alpine skiing at nearby Lookout Mountain as an elementary student, and emerged himself into Nordic skiing while attending the University of Minnesota. His love for alpine and Nordic skiing and skiers continues to grow each year.
Past recipients of this Lifetime Achievement Award include George Hovland, who founded Duluth’s Spirit Mountain and Snowflake Nordic Center. Hovland competed as a Nordic skier in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.
Congratulations, John! Thank you for your many years of service to Giants Ridge and to the sport of Nordic skiing.