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Board of Directors

2013 Candidate Profiles

To see the profile for each candidate running for the ABSF Board of Directors, please download the document below:

Board Nomination Packets & Endorsement

Candidates interested in running for the ABSF Board of Directors may state their intent in the Spring/Summer of each year. All candidates must submit a completed Candidate Profile. Please read the Candidate Letter and General Information document posted to the right. Then download, complete, and send the Profile and Nomination (for non-incumbents) documents to board@birke.com.

In addition, all non-incumbent candidates must submit a Nomination Endorsement form that contains a minimum of ten signatures from current ABSF members.

All application materials are due in the ABSF office on or before Friday, July 5, 2013. 

Application Materials

Please read the Candidate Letter and General Information document below. Then download, complete, and send the Profile and Nomination (for non-incumbents) documents to board@birkie.com.

Meet our Board of Directors

Sue Scheer - President

The American Birkebeiner has been part of Sue Sheer's life since she skied the Kortelopet in 1982. It is truly a family affair as Sue, her husband, and her mother have more than 70 Birkebeiners and Kortelopets between them, and all three of them are proud Birchleggers, which means they have each skied the Birkie at least twenty times. Sue has also participated in all every Birkie Trail Run & Trek and the BirkieTour since the start of each of those events.

A member of the ABSF board since 2008, Sue has served as chair of the marketing committee and currently chairs Birkie Enterprises, the retail business of the American Birkebeiner. Now, as president of the Board of Directors, Sue is working to uphold the traditions that make the American Birkebeiner a Wisconsin treasure and support the additions and improvements that make every event unique. “We have a responsibility to continue to provide the world-class event that our participants expect,” she says.

Sue comes to the Board of Directors with leadership roles in various organizations and from her career as Director of Special Education. She currently teaches aspiring special education teachers for St Mary's University, Minnesota. Always active in the Hayward community, Sue has owned and operated Mainstream Boutique in Lumberjack Village in Hayward since 2006.

Sue is a member of Ski and Tea, the women's training group that helps women become better skiers and stronger athletes through weekly, group training sessions on the Birkie Trail.

Scott Chapin - Vice President

Scott Chapin, now serving his fourth term on the Board of Directors, discovered the Birkie in 1993. As a fifth-year senior at UW Eau Claire, his running eligibility had expired so he thought he'd try cross country skiing. Tom Meyer, now Scott's neighbor in Seeley, taught him how to "wax and, more or less, ski." Scott entered the Birkie in '93 and has skied it nearly every year since.

Skiing, biking, and running became the focal point of Scott's non-working hours. Moving to Hayward, after a semester in grad school in Montana, seemed like the perfect match for those interests.

"I came back to Wisconsin not knowing exactly what I wanted to do," he says. "After some extensive soul-searching (about a day and a half worth), I decided to make an attempt to move to Hayward. After all, the Birkie Trail and endless other trails are here. I love skiing and mountain biking. The silent sports culture makes this a great place to live and work."

Scott works in the insurance industry specializing in commercial insurance and employee benefits. Recently, he launched a national Bicycle and Ski Industry Insurance Program (Shops, Races, IMBA Clubs, etc.) He's also President of the Sawyer County Development Board and Northland Area Builders Association Board. Additionally, Scott has been doing a lot of public speaking throughout the United States on the Economic Impact of Trailbuilding / Economic Impact of Silent Sports.

As a Board member and skier, Scott says it is important that race quality continue to improve and that the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation give back to the skier community via the Young Skier Development Grant program. To date, more than $160,000 has been awarded to over 100 ski clubs and organizations throughout the United States.

"This is my favorite aspect of being on the board. Getting thank you letters from the various teams who have received grants is THE BEST!"

In addition to biking, skiing, and running, Scott enjoys playing guitar and relaxing with friends.

Jane Bidwell - Secretary

Jane Bidwell discovered the American Birkebeiner in 1978 when she was asked by friends to be a volunteer at the start line. “I had no idea what I was getting into when I drove from Green Bay for a weekend of skinny-ski fun and knicker-clad Norwegians! The excitement and enthusiasm of the skiers and community of volunteers changed my life forever that day.”

Jane worked as a volunteer at the start line for two more years. “Since I had been a skier since 1972, I was always asking myself why I wasn’t skiing the race,” says Jane. She skied her first Birkie in 1981 and has continued the tradition every year since.

“I feel so blessed to be able to live and work in such a great community of silent sports enthusiasts. I’m not sure you would find many other small towns in America with such a great volunteer base. Over the years I have witnessed so many people of all ages donate countless, unseen hours to making the American Birkebeiner such a great success, and many are not even skiers themselves.

“I am thankful to be given the opportunity to serve on the American Birkebeiner Board of Directors again after serving several other terms over the years. I look forward to tackling the challenges that come with this position and to enhancing the American Birkebeiner and its world-class status. Jane believes her years in the resort and tourism industry as a small business owner allow her to bring a different perspective to board issues.”

In her free time, Jane enjoys skiing, mountain and road biking, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing. She has traveled around the world biking and skiing. She has shared her skills and enthusiasm as a coach of the Hayward Middle School ski team.

Joe Timmerman - Treasurer

Joe Timmerman has been a cross country skier since 1975, beginning with wooden skis and bamboo poles. He participated in his first Birkie in 1993 after a good friend from Wisconsin Rapids talked him into doing the race.

“I distinctly remember arriving at Telemark and seeing a sea of multi-colored lycra-clad skiers warming up under a bright blue sky," says Joe. "The rock music was blaring. I was really nervous. When it finally came time to start, the gun went off and I was off like a shot.”

About two minutes into the race someone opened Joe’s binding with a ski pole. He fell and by the time he got going again he was the last person in the wave. Joe regained his rhythm and started passing people.

“It was a tremendous experience and I’ve been back every year since.”

The first Birkie taught Joe that he needed to “Live the Birkie” year round be maintaining his fitness level. Joe achieves this by cycling, paddling, and skiing. He also enjoys hiking, hunting, camping, and fishing.

In addition to participating in the Birkie, Joe also does the Pre-Birkie, Book Across the Bay, Lap the Lake benefiting the Weiss Community Library, and the Stormy Kromer Pursuit. For the last 25 years he has spent a week canoe camping in Quetico Provincial Park with friends.

Joe brings 33 years of experience in the forest products community, working in land management, public relations, legislative affairs, budgeting, sales, and manufacturing operations. He spent 25 years with Consolidated Papers and in his most recent position he served as President of Midwest Forest Products Company in Hayward.

In addition to his professional careeer he brings additional leadership experience to the American Birkebeiner Board from service as past Chair of the Wisconsin Society of American Foresters, member of the Bayfield County Economic Development Committee, and former member of the Laona school board.

In his free time you may find Joe with a good book. Joe has two grown daughters who live and work in Minneapolis.

John Garrett

In 1993, John Garrett skied his first Birkie and was immediately hooked. Although he enjoys a variety of athletic activities and competitions throughout the year, cross-country skiing is his passion and the Birkie is the high point of the ski season. After becoming a member of the Birkie Foundation and volunteering for various Birkie events, John sought out an additional opportunity to give back to the race he loves.

John was elected to the Board of Directors in 2011. “I ran for a seat on the board to support the mission statement of the Birkie Foundation, which is to put on a world-class event, act as steward of the trail, and support a healthy lifestyle. As chair of the Trails Committee, my top priority has been securing permanent access to all sections of the race course. This has proven to be a significant challenge but we continue to make progress towards that goal.”

John has enjoyed vacationing in Hayward since the early 1990’s. He would come up from Minneapolis, first with his buddies, then with his wife, Colleen, for long weekends of cross-country skiing, mountain biking, inline skating, kayaking, camping, golf, the occasional hockey game, and whatever other activities could be crammed into three or four days. Their dream came true when they purchased a cabin on Windigo Lake in 2001. They have now moved their home base from Minneapolis to a cabin near the Mosquito Brook Trailhead.

John recently retired as a partner of a small custom sheet metal products manufacturer. He has two adult daughters who live in Duluth and Austin, MN, one granddaughter, and another one on the way.

Jan Guenther

Jan Guenther was elected to the ABSF Board of Directors in 2012. She and her husband, Brian Knutson, are the owners of Gear West Ski & Run and Gear West Adrenaline, two retail stores located in Long Lake, MN. Jan brings 27 years of XC ski retail and ski and run racing experience to her position.

Jan and Brian have two teenage boys, three dogs, and one pot-bellied pig. They also own a cabin off of Highway "00" in Seeley, WI, where they are close to the Birkie Trail. "Finally I have an excuse to get up to Hayward and Cable more often and enjoy my tiny but cozy log cabin!"

Jan's athletic background has focused primarily on racing triathlons, XC skiing, and also on organizing events for both sports. She began her business life after graduating from college at Duke University as a financial analyst for a telecommunications company. After completing an MBA at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University she quit everything to purchase a bike store outside the Chicago area. In 1991 she moved up to Minneapolis to start Gear West Ski and Bike, eventually selling the Bike Store to a Gear West employee Kevin O'Connor and added running shoes to the XC ski store. In 2012 she opened a new store, Gear West Adrenaline, which sells downhill skis; soccer, lacrosse, and rugby equipment; long boards, skate boards, snow boards, and casual clothing.

"For me, the Hayward area is where I first became introduced to XC skiing and racing. It's here that the sport and the excitement of the Birkie event influenced my entire career life. I have memories of all the 24+ years I have entered the race, run the trails, and measured all the ups and downs of my life. Joining the American Birkebeiner board seems like the most natural way to direct my experience and enthusiasm for everything associated with Hayward, XC ski racing, business, friends, and the spirit of everything I love. I am looking forward to making a positive contribution." 

Yuriy Gusev

Yuriy Gusev is also a new member to the ABSF Board of Directors, elected in 2012. He lives in Verona, WI, but travels to the Cable/Hayward area regularly as Director of CXC, Central Cross Country Skiing Association.

Yuriy skied his first Birkie in 2002 and has been fascinated with the event since that time. He is the Founder of the annual Madison Winter Festival held the third weekend each February.

Yuriy has been the Director of CXC since 2005, establishing the CXC Team, CXC Junior Program, CXC Academy, CXC Adaptive, and CXC/Salomon Super Fit Program. He led CXC to receive United States Ski and Snowboard Association Club of the Year Award in 2008 and 2012. And, he led CXC to be recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as a Community Olympic Development Program, one of the nine programs across all summer and winter Olympic sports. CXC has also been recognized as a Paralympic Sport Club by the United States Paralympics Committee.

In addition, Yuriy has been serving on the USSA Cross Country Committee since 2007, the National Nordic Foundation board of directors since 2011, the Madsion Nordic Ski Club board of directors since 2009, and Chaired the Organizing Commette and served as Chief of Competition for the 2012 IPC Nordic Skiing and Biathlon World Cup in Cable, WI.

John Kotar

John Kotar, born and raised in Slovenia, former Yugoslavia, has been part of the Birkie lifestyle from the start. Now serving on the ABSF Board of Directors, John says comparing the ’73 Birkie with present-day races is like discussing two different centuries due to better trail grooming, better equipment and clothing, and better race organization.

When John, a retired University of Wisconsin forestry professor, immigrated to Milwaukee as a 17-year-old, his biggest disappointment was the lack of mountains or even hills. He missed skiing more than anything else. Yet his education and career in forestry would be just the ticket to the outdoors and snowy terrain he so loved.

After a stint in Seattle, he returned to the Midwest in 1972, just as cross country skiing was beginning to boom. He was among the 34 men and one woman lining up at the start of the first American Birkebeiner in 1973, a race that was barely publicized, a race that provided new opportunity for citizen skiers, a race that captured John’s heart.

“I came from Duluth that morning in 1973 and didn’t even know where the start of the race was,” he says. “I asked at the desk at Telemark, and they didn’t know much about it. One bus carried all the skiers to Historyland in Hayward. I paid $6, waxed my skis on the ice, and within 20 minutes we were off."

"When you look back on it and see over 40 years, it is pretty incredible. It’s not something that could be planned. The first year we were so excited about it because there were no such races around. It really felt like an accomplishment; there was nothing like it. When we found out the race was going to be held again, we instantly signed up. Now it is a given that I will be at the Birkie every year. Things don’t get easier, but it is such a tradition. I will keep coming back as long as the body will let me.”

In 1992 John, along with the Birkie Founders, created the Birchleggings Club to recognize those who have skied 20 or more Birkebeiners. Today, over 1000 Birchleggers are part of the elite club. You’ll recognize them on race day by their purple Birchleggings bibs.

As a board member, John focuses his attention on the Birkie trail and was delighted with the recent Classic Trail expansion and plans for future expansion.

“This new trail shows our commitment to classical skiers,” he said. “There are many out there who feel left out because the freestyle race does not suit them. I think this new trail will go a long way to bringing in some of those skiers who have never taken up skating but would otherwise partake in the race. I also believe we have the potential for bringing skiers from Norway as well as other European skiers, and I think that will be a good thing for the race.”

In his free time you’ll find John in the forest, enjoying the company of wife, Nina, and daughter, Katerina, or convincing others to register for the greatest show on snow.

Dennis Kruse

When Dennis Kruse, former law professor at Illinois State University, got into cross country skiing, he had no idea it would become a dominant force in his life. It all started in 1977 when a friend described skiing the '77 Birkie, calling it an epic adventure. Intrigued, Dennis donned a pair of home-made woolen knickers, strapped on a pair of wood skis, slipped his hands into a pair of bamboo poles, and lined up with 2,717 other skiers for the 1978 running of the 55K American Birkebeiner.

"Coming from skiing the golf course, I wasn't sure I would survive the first K over Mt. Telemark," he recalls. "I still remember the sense of joy and satisfaction from hearing the music of the finish at the Lumberjack bowl."

It was then and there that Birkie Fever captured his heart and soul, and it just won't let go. Dennis has skied 26 Birkies, two Kotelopets, and all of the Worldloppet races, including 13 Engadines and 5 Norwegian Birkebeiners. He's missed just a few American Birkebeiners since he joined the ranks of skiers in '78--and for good reason. In 1985 Dennis skied the Finlandia in Lahti, in 2002 he was working as a technique controller at the 2002 Olympics, and in recent years he has served as a Race Announcer at both the Birkie Start and Finish areas.

"The Birkie and its consequences have probably been the single biggest influence in my life, including where I live, who my friends are, where I travel, and the quality of my life. By 1979 I had purchased a cabin in the Cable area and begun to commute from my job as a Law Professor in Illinois. Three years later I was working as a guide for Worldwide Nordic and skiing the races of the Worldloppet. For several years I was a co-owner of Seeley Hills Ski and Bike. I have been Director of the Seeley Hills Classic for 16 years. I have served as an officer of CXC and continue on the advisory board and am also on the Cross Country committee of USSA. I have also worked as a Director on the 24 Hours of Telemark, the Junior Birkie, and the the Telemark Super Tour."

Yep, he's got Birkie Fever. And that makes him a valuable member of the Board of Directors. Dennis has been a tireless advocate, encouraging the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation to use its status and resources to help promote the sport he loves. He says being on the board has been well worth his time and effort.

"I think we have made great progress with Skier Development grants, funding of a summer camp, lighted ski trails, and the new classic course," he says.

In addition to skiing, Dennis enjoys living in the northwoods, cycling, kayaking, working on his house, and traveling to Europe a couple of times a year.

John Leighton

John Leighton, elected to the ABSF Board of Directors in August 2007, is one tough athlete. The former Minneapolis attorney is a Birchlegger, a Worldloppet Master Skier, and an ultra marathoner. He and wife Sue moved to Teal Lake in 1999, primarily to be closer to the Birkebeiner and associated skiing in the Hayward and Cable area.

In his life away from law and real estate projects, John has time to embrace the vast array of skiing and mountain bike trails in the Hayward area and can be seen most every day running, skiing, or biking through the forest. He is a dedicated volunteer for the Birkie and puts his chainsaw certification from the National Forest Service to good use clearing the Birkie trails.

”There is a lot of volunteer energy in the vibrant Hayward/Cable community, and I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to apply this energy to the American Birkebeiner, which brought me to the Hayward/Cable area in the first place,” says Dave. “The ABSF will continue to grow in strength as long as it continues to promote the community and its merchants, and adequately recognizes its volunteers.”

In addition to volunteering for the Birkie, John is also involved with the Cable Chamber of Commerce booth at the spring bike expo in Minneapolis and as a second term member of the CAMBA Board of Directors. John maintains the Rock Lake/Namakagon bike and snowshoe trail systems and spends a few hours nearly every day building new bike trail at Rock Lake in order to separate the bike trails from the ski trails. He recently developed an adult trail-riding workshop and wrote an accompanying training manual: “Finding the Rhythm of the Trail.”

As John finds his energy in the Hayward/Cable community, he finds his metaphor in the forest:

Following Old Tracks

All autumn he labored at the base
Of a windfall fir near the cedar swamp
Clawing out great quantities of clay and rock
Until his claws were polished and sharp
And he had something fitting
Then he waited for the first hard snow
That could cover old tracks
And when it came he retired fat
On bilberry, carrion and chum
Snarled to himself, “does anyone give a damn?”

Forgetting or too tired to remember
Ice already gone along the river

1998, John M. Leighton

Dave Nelson

An interest in map making, conservation, and forestry, coupled with thoughtful assessments and a really good sense of humor, make Dave Nelson a valuable member of the ABSF Board of Directors. Dave was instrumental in marking the new Classic Trail with geographic positioning system (GPS) technology, and he will be instrumental in the development of the expansion of the Classic Trail as well.

Dave started cross country skiing in 1972 when he lived in Glidden Wisconsin. In 1973 he saw the announcement for the first Birkie in the Telemark ski shop and said, “You can’t ski that far and live.” He did not seriously think of entering but became more interested in cross country skiing while living in lower Michigan. After transferring to Hayward, he planned to ski the 1978 race but an illness put an end to that plan. His epiphany that it felt worse to not ski than to ski sick lead him to classic ski several Birkies.

Dave worked for the US Forest Service and, for many years, was involved in timber management. In 1977 he had the opportunity to transfer into recreation. That's when he and his first wife and daughters moved to Hayward. While it was fairly common for Forest Service folks to transfer to different places on a regular basis, Dave had the good fortune to remain in Hayward until retirement.

"I didn’t find any places that I liked better, and the Birkie Trail was a strong draw," says Dave. "I was fortunate to be hired by the Forest Service after I left the army in 1969. Aside from 6 years working in timber, I spent my entire career working in recreation. It didn’t feel like a job since I really enjoyed working on trails and other recreation projects. I retired in April 2005. Some of the trails that I designed for the Forest Service are the Rock Lake and Mukwanago ski trails near Hayward. I also have done some layout work for mountain bike trails in the Hayward area. I also worked with Jack Moin laying out the new Classic Birkie Trail.

"In January of 2011, I temporarily became a former skier. I have a fatal lung disease, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, that is destroying my lungs, which limits the amount of oxygen available from the lungs. It is no secret that Nordic skiing requires huge amounts of oxygen--even at a slow to moderate pace let alone climbing the Birkie hills in the race. The only cure is a lung transplant. I am on a lung transplant list and have hopes that some day I can ski the Birkie trail again with my wife, Anita.

"When I knew that I had this disease, I renewed my efforts on flagging in an extension of the Birkie Classic Trail. The good news is that the trail is flagged in ,and I have produced maps of the location. I will be most happy if the trail is constructed. If not, then I have had wonderful walks in the woods with some of my friends. I hope that you do not contract this serious disease and that you have a long and happy life. Please encourage all of your friends to become organ donors should they die an untimely death."

Two Additional Board Members Added:

Because the Birkie Trail is situated on country lands in both Sawyer and Bayfield counties, as of August 2013, the ABSF Board of Directors will now include representives from both of those counties as chosen by counties.

Tom Duffy - Representative, Sawyer County Board of Directors

Tom Duffy, who has been instrumental in the ABSF over the years and a board member, will be back on the ABSF board, this time as a representative of the Sawyer County Board of Directors. Below is Tom's bio as a ABSF board member.

Tom Duffy, Hayward attorney and lifelong friend of Birkie founder Tony Wise, has been involved with both the Birkie Foundation and the Worldloppet since their beginning. He first clipped into cross country skis in 1974 when Tony paid Tom’s attorney fees in the form of welcomed ski passes to Telemark Resort for the entire family. It was then and there that Tom’s passion for the sport began to blossom.

Tom and wife, Carol, have traveled the world, completing more than a combined 45 Worldloppet marathons and numerous Kortelopets and American Birkebeiners. All that skiing and worldwide travel to other ski venues has given Tom a unique perspective and appreciation of the race located in his own back yard.

“The Birkie Trail is the finest cross country ski trail in the world, and I believe the Birkie Board and its administration are one of the best-run organizations in the Nordic world,” says Tom. “We have the ingredients to make our race the best, if not the largest, on the planet. I think of how proud Tony would be that the Birkie made it this far. This race is a tribute to his vision.”

It was a vision that Tom embraced from the get-go. A Birkie Board member since the early days of the Foundation, Tom says it’s key to perpetuate the magic of the American Birkebeiner by maintaining a quality core race with some newness added each year to keep the event fresh and exciting.

“We must strive to strike a balance between our traditional event that has made our race so special and adding new events that add a freshness to our entire Birkie weekend. As our ever-growing number of Birchleggers age, we must find new and novel ways to add new skiers to the mix and retain our older skiers. Adding more women and girls to our competition appears to be one way of keeping the skier pool strong and stable.”

Tom says a priority for the Board is continuing an open dialog with Bayfield and Sawyer counties and numerous municipal governments to work together to preserve and develop the Birkie Trail.

“It is our job to keep the counties aware of this trail and this race’s importance to both the local economy and to our enjoyment of outdoor life here in northern Wisconsin.”

In addition to his law practice, Tom is an active community member, serving on the Lumberjack World Championship Foundation, Hayward Chamber of Commerce, Sawyer County Board of Supervisors, Wisconsin Bar Association, Boys and Girls Club of America, and Johnson Bank Board of Directors.

Brett Rondeau - Representative, Bayfield County Board of Directors

Photo and Bio Coming Soon.

Terms of Service, Nomination Policies, and More

Board Term Length

Each member serves three (3) years each. The board is comprised of 13 members, with one-third elected annually.

Board Meetings

Monthly meeting are typically scheduled on the third Monday of the month at 4 p.m. Meetings are subject to change and will be announced accordingly. Meetings usually last 1-2 hours depending on agenda topics.

BOD Officers - Terms

The term of service for each of the following board members continues  through the year listed for each:

  1. Jane Bidwell (2014) - Secretary
  2. Scott Chapin (2014) - Vice President
  3. John Garrett (2014)
  4. Jan Guenther (2015)
  5. Yuriy Gusev (2015)
  6. John Kotar (2014)
  7. Dennis Kruse (2014)
  8. John Leighton (2016)
  9. Dave Nelson (2016)
  10. Sue Scheer (2015) - President
  11. Joe Timmerman (2016) - Treasurer
  12. Tom Duffy - Representative, Sawyer County Board of Directors (2014)
  13. Brett Rondeau - Representative, Bayfield County Board of Directors (2014)

Board Meeting Minutes

CLICK HERE for an Archive of Board Meeting Minutes.

Foundation Committees

Chair: Dennis Kruse
Members: Scott Chapin

Co-Chairs: Paul Pedersen and Don Maher
Members: John Saunders and John Kotar

Chair: Joe Timmerman
Members: Tom Duffy, Dennis Kruse and Steve Narveson

Skier Development
Chair: Scott Chapin
Members: Dennis Kruse, John Kotar, Terry Penman, Amy Rowley

Trails and Facilities
Chair: John Garrett
Members: Bill Pierce, Dave Nelson, Gerry Hansen, Scott Wilson, Jane Bidwell, Ron Bergin, Chris Campbell and Terry Penman

Chair: Jane Bidwell
Members: Scott Chapin, John Leighton