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.”