High Performance Racing Team
Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC), the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, and the Loppet Foundation are teaming up to create a high performance racing team – so that the next Jessie Diggins can stay home to train, inspire future generations, and win Olympic medals. Team Birkie is based out of the Trailhead at Wirth Park, The Loppet Foundation’s headquarters in Minneapolis. Team Birkie will conduct training camps in the Hayward Area and around the Central Region, as well as training and competition trips around North America. Check Out a Recap of our 2021-2022 Season Here:
An Ethos of Integrity, Excellence and Inclusiveness
Team Birkie is taking this opportunity to be the influential, ethical voice that sets the bar for integrity in our sport. We commit to train and race without performance enhancing substances in our bodies. We commit to do what is right for the environment and our community, celebrating the human body in its full and pure potential. As a top level race team, we aim to inspire others to join us as we practice these principles proudly and visibly. The Team Birke Ethos:
- Ethical approach to training and competition
- Excellence without Elite
- Live what we preach – sport is for everyone, we honor all those that get out on the trail
- It’s all about the journey – every day matters
The Twin Cities is one of the only places in the nation where athletes can reap the benefits of city living while still enjoying access to high quality training areas for both dryland season and on-snow training. Consistently recognized for its trail system, Minneapolis is among the most accessible cities to traverse on wheels – whether by bike or rollerski. With three ski areas featuring artificial snow making capabilities within a 20 mile radius, the Twin Cities is a true epicenter of cross-country skiing and winter sport development. In the land of 10,000 lakes, you will find that almost every training session will be near a body of water. Thirty miles east lies an opportunity for long, sustained climbs and the quiet roads of Afton State Park, and a 3 hour drive will land you in the heart of the American Birkebeiner ski trails.
One of the main benefits of basing Team Birkie in the Twin Cities is to give post-college athletes the opportunity to gain work experience or internships in their fields of study, rather than putting their professional lives on hold. Athletes can also easily continue their academic pursuits, with many colleges and universities within a small radius. In addition, being based in Minneapolis gives athletes the opportunity to contribute to the growing momentum of the ski/outdoor community. Team Birkie members will have the opportunity to coach Loppet Foundation programming as well as volunteer for events and outreach programs that work to include people of all backgrounds into outdoor adventure.
Working with aspiring skiers and leaders in the Twin Cities at Theodore Wirth Park.
Team Birkie Athletes
Team Birkie Athletes are selected based upon a competitive application process. The selection criteria can be viewed here.
2021-2022 Team Birkie Athletes Include
Year-Round Athletes for 2022-2023
- Zak Ketterson
- Xavier Mansfield
- Gus Schatzlein
- Andrew Millan
- Tony Mathie
- Renae Anderson
- Erin Bianco
- Julie Ensrud
Team Birkie “Legends”
Our team is in the unique position to have a group of elite level athletes who will be mentors, training partners, and advisors to our athletes. Between them there are multiple Olympic and World Cup starts, National Championship podiums, and Overall Super Tour Titles, not to mention Birkie crowns!
- Brian Gregg
- Matt Liebsch
Collegiate Athletes (2021-2022)
These are athletes who join our summer program, May – August, and would be working alongside our full-time Team Birkie athletes.
- Cole Johnson: Colby College
- Henry Schneider: Michigan Tech University
- CJ Young: University of Green Bay
- Colin Freed: Michigan Tech University
- Tryg Solberg: Michigan Tech University
- Lauren McCollor: Northern Michigan University
- Joe Lynch: College of Saint Scholastica
- Nick Kjome: College of Saint Scholastica
- Charlie Brown: Saint Lawrence University
- Morgan Richter: Bowdoin College
- Lars Dewall: College of Saint Scholastica
- Declan Rodefeld: University of Green Bay
- Ben Boelter: College of Saint Scholastica
- Matt Bourne: Northern Michigan University
- Cooper Lennox: Northern Michigan University
- Ingrid Thyr: Williams College, Intern with Friends of the Boundary Waters and works at the Loppet Foundation
- Abby Drach: Dartmouth, Owner of Indura Clothing Company
- Jordan Schuster: Saint Lawrence University, Works for TC Running Company and MYSL
- Nate Kuelbs: University of Minnesota, Works for Honeywell
- Sam Holt: University of Vermont, Pursuing job in Food Sciences
How to Support Team Birkie
Team Birkie is supported generous friends and donors. Supporting high level competition requires significant resources and about half of those come from individual donors. Team Birkie donations support coaching, travel for training, travel for competition and equipment not covered by sponsors. Please consider supporting Team Birkie!
Training Camps and Race Schedule
Training Camps / Events:
The coaching staff will be led by World Champion medalist Caitlin Gregg. Caitlin will be supported by a number of other experienced coaches, including Jeremy Hecker and Leo Hipp.
Head Coach – Caitlin Compton Gregg
Caitlin Compton Gregg (email@example.com) is a 2015 World Championship Bronze Medalist from Falun, Sweden and was a member of the 2010 Winter Olympic Team in Vancouver, Canada. She has also competed at 5 World Championships – four times for Cross Country Skiing and once for Biathlon. Caitlin has also won the American Birkebeiner 5 times- more times than any other athlete, and has many City of Lakes Loppet wins under her belt as well. A US Ski Team Alum and an 8-time National Champion, Caitlin has been living and training in the Minneapolis area for over 15 years and knows how to maximize every inch of terrain in our urban playground. She has used her creativity to compete and succeed at the highest level in the sport of cross-country skiing. She and her husband Brian Gregg, also a 2014 Olympian, started Team Gregg in 2013 and have enjoyed pushing their limits to succeed in results and marketing on the World Stage. When not coaching or taking care of young daughter Heidi, Caitlin enjoys sharing her passion for health and the outdoors with the youth in her North Minneapolis community.
Assistant Coach – Leo Hipp
I am originally from Forest Lake, Minnesota where I began skiing in 2011. Prior to trying out skiing, I dabbled with several sports but settled on cross-country running and hockey. After ditching skates and sticks, I quickly began to enjoy having skis under my feet. With the help of my great high school coach Deno Johnson, I was able to experience success at the state and national levels. Following graduating from high school in 2015, I was fortunate to be able to pursue my athletic and academic endeavors at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. Under the guidance of another amazing coach, Sten Fjeldheim, I was able to earn several conference and regional honors, and to most notably represent the United States at the 2016 Junior World Championships. In 2019, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, but decided to stay at Northern to use my last year of athletic eligibility and begin a Master’s Degree in the same field. Without any more athletic eligibility going into this past year, I was given the opportunity to work as a Graduate Assistant Coach for the ski team at Northern while finishing the last year of my Master’s program. Experiencing skiing a new capacity ultimately grew my passion for skiing, not just as an athlete but as a coach Now living in Minneapolis (about a mile from the trailhead!), I could not be more thrilled to be working alongside some amazing coaches to help incredible skiers pursue their dreams. In my freetime, I enjoy getting to know the Twin Cities better, visiting and staying in touch with college friends, and training for my first marathon, which is coming up in September.
Assistant Coach – Jeremy Hecker
Jeremy Hecker is a native MN skier graduating from Andover High School before moving on to complete a degree in Exercise Physiology at the College of St. Scholastica. During his time at St. Scholastica, Jeremy competed on the varsity team all four years accruing multiple All-CCSA and All-Region honors. He also qualified twice for the NCAA National Championships. After graduating from the College of St. Scholastica, Jeremy furthered his coaching education by spending two years in Finland working on a Masters degree in the Biology of Physical Activity. During his time in Finland, Jeremy was able to work at several World Cups as a service technician for Rex Ski Wax. Jeremy has a wealth of experience coaching athletes of all levels both domestically and internationally. He has coached for many teams including the Alberta World Cup Academy (CAN), Endurance United (MN), Stratton Mountain School (VT), Williams College (MA), New South Whales XC (AUS), and most recently the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (WI). Jeremy now currently works as the racing service manager for Pioneer Midwest focusing on grinding and waxing skis, and coaching athletes on their roller ski treadmill. Jeremy prides himself on giving his athletes competitive skis for each race so they can display the work accomplished in training over the course of the year. When he is not spending time waxing skis, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife (Kayla) and dog (Lahti) exploring the outdoors!
Team Birkie is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 training year as well as for their summer collegiate training programs. Applications will be due by end of day April 10 and decisions will be made by April 15. Based in the Twin Cities, Team Birkie trains and lives throughout the Midwest. We are excited to be hosting multiple World Cup races in our region in 2024, with events at both Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis and at the Birkie Trailhead in Cable, WI. We want to help athletes reach the podium at the World Cup, World Championship, and the Olympics. The Twin Cities offer endless opportunities for career advancement, education, and entertainment. Our goal is to develop balanced athletes who can put in the time to be successful in the most challenging sport in the world. The training opportunities are world class. Travel is convenient with an international airport within 20 minutes of your door and multiple Super Tour events within driving distance. We also have 3 ski areas with reliable 5K+ of snowmaking loops from December 1 – March 15. The application is available below for year-round training and race support. Any remaining questions may be addressed to Caitlin Gregg (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Leo Hipp (email@example.com).