Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club

HISTORY

History of Cross Country Skiing A Club on the Move
History of Jackrabbits Nordic Skiing
History of The Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club Jackrabbit Johannsen

 

 

 

 What is Cross Country Skiing?

Scandinavians invented cross country skiing and we are indebted to them not only for its ancestry, but for the development of the equipment we use, touring techniques and even for the relatively recent art of waxing.

The Nordic peoples, whose Vikings began conquering the sea about A.D. 700, apparently had found ways of conquering their own wild wintry land about 3000 years earlier. Skiing was used for transportation for hunters, messengers, soldiers and monarchs by the Vikings as early as the 10th century A.D. Remains of primitive skis found above Sweden's Arctic Circle have been carbon-dated to 2000 B.C. Prehistoric cave drawings found above the Arctic circle indicate ancient inhabitants of Scandinavia may have used skis made of long bones of animals for transportation.

Legends tell of the kings own crack guard, the fierce Birkebeiners, transporting the two-year old heir to the throne, Prince Haakon, out of danger from enemies of the crown, by skiing him to safety. The Birkebeiner annual Loppet, commemorates the episode and covers 50 kilometres.

Many modern-day recreational events in Scandinavia, such as the Vasaloppet in Sweden, commemorate political struggles which charted historical events in Scandinavia. The Vasaloppet, one of the most demanding ski races, is based on the legend of Gustav Vasa.

The first known competition or prized race took place at Tromso, Norway in1776. The first cross country race on skis apparently was held in Northern Norway in 1843. By 1879, the first Huseby race was held and 1892 marked the first Holmenkollen race. Nordic Combined, a combination of ski jumping and cross country skiing, was originally looked upon as the premier Nordic event and it wasn't until 1900 that a separate cross country race was held, at a distance of 30 kilometres (km).

The form of skiing, therefore, in which one travels from point to point over relatively level terrain is named "Nordic" to denote its Scandinavian origins.

Cross country skiing was introduced to North America in the late 19th century by Europeans. In 1849, skis were used in California during the gold rush days by miners for survival. John "Snowshoe" Thompson, carried the mail on skis across the High Sierras from California to Nevada for 20 years. This was the only form of communication for the miners during the gold rush days.

In Canada, the legendary Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith Johannsen is considered the father of the Canadian skiing movement. Johannsen moved to Quebec in 1928 and cut cross country ski trails, set the first slalom courses, and designed and directed many of Canada's ski jumps. Well known trails such as the Maple Leaf, Tachereau and Kandahar were all planned and cut by Jackrabbit.

Montreal, Ottawa, Camrose, Banff, Trail and Rossland all claim to have originated, introduced and practiced certain aspects of the sport in Canada. However; skiing was known to have been practiced as early as 1879 in Quebec. It was not considered a competitive sport until 1898 when, as part of the Rossland Winter Carnival, a prized ski jumping and ski running competition was held. The first Canadian Ski Championships were held on February 13,1909 on the Westmount Boulevard Hill in Montreal and was a ski jumping event. By 1921, the Dominion Ski Championships became the most important single ski competition in Canada. Competition was limited to cross country and ski jumping events.

On February 19,1921, the first official Dominion Ski Tournament, sponsored by the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA), now the CSA, was held in Montreal. The cross country events were held on Mount Royal. Frank McKinnon become the first cross country champion of the CASA in the 10 mile (18km) race which he finished in a time of 1:10:20. He was presented with the Devun bowl, which today remains a perpetual challenge trophy for Canadian cross country racing.

Cross Country skiing has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since 1924 and during the first three Olympics, Nordic skiing events were the only contested sports. Up until 1952, there were only men's events and it wasn't until the 1988 Olympics, in Calgary, that races featuring the separate free technique and the classical style were introduced. The new "pursuit start" was introduced at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France.

Canadian skiers participated in their first Winter Olympics in 1928, marking the first appearance of North American ski teams in the Winter Games. A four person team arrived in St. Moritz, Switzerland and W.B. Thompson of Laurentian, Quebec and Merritt Putnam of Toronto placed 37th and 40th, respectively, in the 18 km cross country race.

Since these first Olympic athletes, Canada has produced many well-known cross country athletes. Some of Canada's most noted successes are: cross country World Cup gold medal winner; Pierre Harvey; Al Pilcher; whose 7th place finish in Lahti was Canada's best ever World Championships result; four-time Olympian Angela Schmidt-Foster; the renowned Firth twins from Northwest Territories, Sharon and Shirley; and 1989 Junior World silver medallist, Marie-Josee Pepin.

Canada has been host to many international cross country events ever since. Communities such as Silver Star; Hardwood Hills, Canmore, Thunder Bay, Whitehorse and Labrador City have all been selected to host World Cup events. Canadians have also viewed dramatic junior athletes when in 1979 Mt. Ste. Anne, Quebec hosted the Junior World Championships and in 1997, Calgary will have that honour. Calgary has also been host to the most prestigious amateur sporting event when, in 1988, the city successfully held the Winter Olympic Games. 1995 marked Canada's first opportunity to host the Nordic World Ski Championships in Thunder Bay.

Reprinted from "100 Mile Nordics Ski Club"


 The Story of the Jackrabbit Ski Program

by Gordon Konantz

The current national cross country youth ski program, known as the JACKRABBIT LEAGUE, originated in Manitoba. Here's the story.

Cross country (X/C) skiing has always been, until the early 60's, a ski activity popular in eastern Canada, particularly in Quebec. The many resident Scandinavians made use of the relatively mild winters and excellent terrain to practise their favourite winter sport. Indeed, it has always been a way of life for them. Ski trains from Montreal transported weekend X/C skiers to the Laurentian Mountains throughout the 30's and 40's.

The most well known, if not the most famous, of these transplanted Nordic skiers was Herman Smith-Johansen, commonly known as 'The Jackrabbit'. His story is remarkable. Jackrabbit was an engineer who travelled by X/C skis from village to village consulting with forestry companies. The Jackrabbit was born in Norway in 1876 and lived most of his life in Canada. He had a nice balance between work and play and throughout his life preached the maxim "everything in moderation". It was a pretty good formula as he lived to 110 years.

I was one of the first skiers in Manitoba to make the switch to cross country skis. In my early 30's at the time, I had competed in alpine skiing since my days at Queen's University (1950-54) where I skied on the University team. I was a '4 way skier' competing in all four disciplines, which included downhill, slalom, jumping and cross country. I competed for four years in eastern Canada at ski locations mostly in Quebec. And it was with this background in the sport that I returned to Manitoba in 1954 to work and play. The love of X/C skiing was always there but as there was no infrastructure (trails, clubs, shops) I naturally gravitated to the downhill scene at La Riviere , Riding Mountain and Fort William (now Thunder Bay). It wasn't until the late 60's that I ventured out into Assiniboine Park and skied down the frozen Assiniboine River. That was a challenge, for there were no trails or warm up facilities, just windswept drifts. Equipment and clothing purchases were made by mail order.

Slowly, more people were seen in the Winnipeg parks. St. John's Ravenscourt School in Fort Garry created the first X/C school program. Early X/C races were held at La Riviere thanks to the energy and vision of Noel Later.

By 1970 the Canada Ski Association - Manitoba Division was expanded to include a X/C ski committee. I acted as chairman. Our committee grew and we had progressive ideas on how the sport should be developed in Manitoba. It was obvious to us that these were two very distinct sports. D/H skiers smoked and trained to develop big muscles. X/C skiers trained in the off-season by running long distances. D/H skiers were stocky and red cheeked. The X/C crowd was gaunt, forever conscious of food intake and training schedules. Once a friend drew Gary Coopland aside and quietly asked him; "Gary, do you have cancer?" Reply: "Oh no, I am a runner".

By 1972 the X/C organization split from the alpine group and formed the Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba, known as the CCSAM, a separate sports body recognized and funded by the Manitoba Sports Federation. It was then that X/C skiing became of age in Manitoba. We wrote our own constitution, developed our own competition program, developed our own trails, raised our own money and celebrated in our own smoke free environment. It was a heady time.

But we were missing a key ingredient - a youth development program. There was an obvious need in the community for such a service. We were adults with a light in our eye. We all loved being outside on the snow and in the woods. Ours was an ideal climate for the sport - long cold winters where there was not much doubt that the wax colour would be - either green or blue. Parks and rivers were all around us. Not far from the city were wilderness areas such as the Sandilands to the east, and the Carberry Hills and Spruce Woods to the west. We had a banquet of choices, and we made use of them all.

But what about the children? I had three and other friends had small kids sitting at home with energy to burn, their faces pressed to the windowpane. Enter the spirit of the Jackrabbit.

In the fall of 1973, Derry Riley and I decided to take on the ultimate X/C challenge - The Canadian Ski Marathon held annually each February. This was the biggest X/C ski event in Canada, a timed two-day course 160 km in length starting in Lachute Quebec and ending at Hull, just across the river from Ottawa. Each day was an 80 km course with aid stations approximately every 15 km. The terrain was hilly and forested. The participation was in the thousands. You could enter to ski one or more sections or enter the Courier de Bois category and ski the complete distance. We chose the big one in spite of our complete lack of experience in long distance skiing. The trail used for the Marathon was originated by Herman Smith Johansen. 'The Jack Rabbit' was very much a part of the event. He was in his early nineties at the time and, while he did not participate, he was the honorary patron and opened the event on skis wearing a racing bib. He was also the central figure at the closing banquet on the Sunday following the race. This commanding figure, dressed in a blue blazer, congratulated all the skiers and organizers with great enthusiasm, first in French, followed by English, Norwegian and Cree. All this was said in the space of 5 minutes while he waved his cane over his head and preached moderation in life, in spite of the physical excesses of the past two days.

I returned home filled with admiration for this extraordinary man. I had an idea. Why not create a youth program in his name? Later that year (1975), I received a call from Gary Coopland inquiring about a teaching program in the city for children. Gary - you have called at the right time, I thought.

And sure enough, by the following January, we held our first Junior Jack Rabbit Ski program. The time and place was Saturday morning from 10am to noon at Fresh Air Experience on Pembina Highway in Fort Garry. The coaches - Gord Konantz and Randy Stewart…and 10 Junior Jackrabbits, ages 10 to 12. The original group of JRs' were Ken and Graham Coopland, Michael Davis, Alan Hrabinski, David Hyde, Dirk Kassenaar, Don Konantz, Ritchie Paterson and Clayton and Clinton Reece.

The original JR program was, and still is, pretty basic. The foundation of the program was fun. The word competition was not part of the vocabulary. The first hour was dedicated to instruction. The second hour concentrated on games. In between, 15 minutes was set aside to warm up and get current information on clothing, waxing and nutrition. The beginning age was 8 with the eldest child 15. The age bracket prevailed as the program matured.

Parents were encouraged to participate in the program. It was expected that not only the child was to be dropped off but the accompanying parent was expected to stay and get involved. In most cases, the parents were beginner skiers as well and they quickly found out that it was fun to be out there on the teaching grid learning about the fundamentals. And there was a more important reason to get the parents committed. We were going to need volunteers to help with driving, organizing events and fund raising. We had a special category for parents and older siblings. It was called Geriatric and anyone over age 15 fell into the category.

The high point of the morning was the games played on skis without poles. Games chosen were ones involving a chase, such as relays and tag events. The favourite was British Bulldog. No matter how cold or windy, the games prevailed.

After a couple of years, it became apparent that it took more than one season of instruction for a child to develop proper technique. And when it happened, it was instantaneous. Instead of shuffling, the stride became a long fluid gliding motion. It was as if a switch was turned on. And when it happened, the class would stop and the child who had suddenly got it would be given the 'golden handshake' by the coaches.

The teaching season lasted 2 1/2 months. As well as the Fresh Air Experience location, the Jackrabbits were taken to other XC ski locations around the city. To wind up the season, a banquet was held for parents, children and coaches, and awards presented.

In 1977 the XC Ski Association hired its first paid coach - Jack Sasseville. Jack was a former schoolteacher, a scratch golfer, and a good all-round athlete with excellent leadership capabilities. The start-up funds for our program were provided by the Winnipeg Foundation based on our submission of providing a winter recreational service to Manitoba communities. It was the intention of the newly formed Cross Country Ski Association of Manitoba (CCSAM) to form a network of Jackrabbit programs throughout the province.

Within 3 years, we had grown to a major winter sport in the province with a number of active clubs opening new trails and offering regional Jack Rabbit programs. Children with competitive spirit within the Jack Rabbit program graduated to the provincial team and competed nationally bringing home gold medals.

Jack went on to become a National ski team coach and was succeeded by Ted Bigelow.

In 1980, a national conference was organized by the Canadian Ski Association. Representatives from across Canada assembled in Toronto to plan the future of cross country ski development in the country. Of primary concern was the poor showing of our athletes in world competition. It was concluded that a 'grass roots' program was required to foster the sport at the earliest age possible. In addition, a coach development was needed.

Enter the Manitoba Jack Rabbit Ski Program. By this time, the program was a sophisticated development program complete with a manual for instructors covering technique, games, awards, clothing, nutrition, waxing, and general life style. It was tailor made for going 'national' which followed the next year when it was accepted by Cross Country Canada and sponsored by Air Canada. A national Jack Rabbit office was established and within a couple of years many thousands of children were sporting the Jack Rabbit badge on their ski jackets.

Gordon Konantz, Vancouver, B.C.
January, 2004

Gordon Konantz's grandchildren are former members of the Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club. Our thanks to Gordon for providing us with this article.


 History of Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club

Club History Outline

Year

President/Lead Coordinator

# Members

Notes/Highlights

Pre‑1985

   

Indications are that a Jackrabbit club existed at Hollyburn Ridge (Cypress Cross Country).

1985‑86

Sally Thomson

70‑80 Rabbits

First year at Seymour. It was more of a program than a club. Club started with Sunday morning and afternoon sessions only, lasting four Sundays.

1986‑87

Sally Thomson,
Reidar Zapf-Gilje

70‑80 Rabbits

Sally successfully negotiated to run the program at Cypress. Recruited Reidar Zapf-Gilje to help with the organization. Also recruited Richard Routledge to help.

1987-88

Sally Thomson,
Reidar Zapf-Gilje

   

1988-89

Sally Thomson,
Reidar Zapf-Gilje

   

1989-90

Sally Thomson,
Rick Routledge,
Monte Chan (Cypress)

Approximately 150 Rabbits

Rick Routledge took over on an interim basis and arranged for Cypress to help by collecting fees. This was the last year that Rick was to take part as his daughter was about to complete the program. At the end of the year, Rick Routledge and Rick Polliquin approached Cypress about running the club on the understanding that it would remain primarily a volunteer-based program. Monte Chan, a Cypress employee, was selected to head the program. He was sent to Edmonton to take the Jackrabbit Course Conductor course. Cypress provides full weekend passes for leaders.

1990-91

Monte Chan (Cypress)

Just over 200 Rabbits

 

1991-92

Monte Chan (Cypress)

298 Rabbits

Highest Jackrabbit membership in Canada.

1992-93

Velvet Bailes (Cypress)

 

Cypress limits registration to maximum 60 members per session.

1993-94

Velvet Bailes (Cypress)

   

1994-95

Tom Bell

 

Program no longer run by Cypress, although Cypress still handles registrations. Club required to purchase passes for leaders.

1995-96

Tom Bell

   

1996-97

Tom Bell

159 Rabbits
46 Leaders

Club is incorporated as a society under the Societies Act. Click here to see the original constitution. The club now handles its own registrations and is completely separate from Cypress. Club database developed by Richard Rickard, the treasurer and registrar for this and the next three seasons.

1997-98

Linda Bell

121 Rabbits
37 Leaders

 

1998-99

Linda Bell

136 Rabbits
34 Leaders

First club web site developed.

1999-2000

Erin Kenny

154 Rabbits
32 Leaders

 

2000-01

Erin Kenny

171 Rabbits
42 Leaders

 

2001-02

Norm Laube

172 Rabbits
36 Leaders

Club Position Descriptions developed to identify key roles within the club. First orienteering event is held. First ski swap held at Sigge’s. A strong group of people forming the executive starts looking at the program in depth and changing things like registration dates.

2002-03

Brad Gilbert

224 Rabbits
47 Leaders

Program expands from six to seven weekend sessions. Events held for our first Beckie Scott Day celebration. Rabbit Challenge program developed for those that wish to compete or train more extensively; 12 skiers take part, skiing Wednesday night in addition to Sunday morning. Club web site completely revamped by a professional web developer.

2003-04

Norm Laube

245 Rabbits
59 Coaches
493 Members

Pre-registration day held at Cypress in October. Club holds its first races. On December 12th the LegaciesNow Ski Tournament is held, which is a fun race for Jackrabbits that is also used to introduce new children to the sport of cross country skiing. Introduction of Tuesday night "Chicks on Sticks" informal ski for women. On March 21st, in conjunction with the Nordic Racers Ski Club, the club hosts the Holly Burn Sprint Race. Rabbit Challenge registration jumps to 35, with Thursday being added as a second weekday evening option. At least one parent/guardian per household is now required to be a member.

2004-05 Norm Laube

292 Rabbits
72 Coaches
599 Members

Club renames "Rabbit Challenge" to "Racing Rabbits", focusing more on competitions. Introduction of Racing Midgets for 12 and 13-year-olds. Introduction of Teens on Skis, Thursday night Rabbit Romp and Wednesday morning adult ski programs. Changeover to the new NCCP Competency Based Education and Training (CBET) program for coaches to replace Level 1. New stylish coaches' vests introduced. Corporate sponsorship program initiated. Club wins B.C. Midget Championships aggregate award. Club recognized as a model club at the joint CCBC/CCC AGM in Kelowna and is profiled in the CCBC Ski Cross Country magazine. The Club's first 5-year Strategic Plan is released.
2005-06 Norm Laube 294 Program Participants
81 Coaches
571 Members
Racing program expands to include Juveniles and renamed to "Racing Program". Expands to Saturday morning in addition to Sunday morning, with Wednesday and Thursday evening sessions. Teen program expands to Sunday afternoon and Saturday morning in addition to Sunday morning. Two Thursday Rabbit Romp sessions offered and also Rabbit Romp sessions on Sundays before the regular program starts. New white bibs used for program sessions. Online registration introduced with registration notification and confirmation now sent via e-mail. Club wins B.C. Midget Championships aggregate award for second consecutive year.
2006-07 Norm Laube 254 Program Participants
73 Coaches
540 Members
First paid head coach, Petr Jackl, is hired. Session trail passes introduced and all passes and rentals now handled exclusively by Cypress. New B.C. Ski League program introduced, which resulted in our first sprint day being run. The annual Lantern Ski is introduced. Club wins B.C. Midget Championships aggregate award for third consecutive year.
2007-08 Norm Laube 274 Program Participants
69 Coaches
530 Members
 
Program sessions expanded from seven to nine. Club runs first two events ever in Callaghan Valley's Whistler Olympic Park - Coast Cup #1 2007 and the B.C. Winter Games Trials / HJSC Open. Old badge program completely phased out. Racing program has record 65 members. Club wins B.C. Midget Championships aggregate award for fourth consecutive year.
2008-09 Norm Laube 261 Program Participants
70 Coaches
488 Members
Completed the transition to the new Skill Development Program with the addition of Track Attack Program and the adjustment of the Racing Program. Adjusted session lengths to more closely match what is recommended by Cross Country Canada. Club hosts the B.C. Midget Championships at Whistler Olympic Park on February 28 to March 1 for the first time ever. Full-time coach Abi Holt is hired. Club van purchased. Club waxing and storage building is built at Cypress.
2009-10 Dirk Rohde

268 Program Participants
76 Coaches
524 Members

Performance Racing Team is developed. New long-term Strategic Plan is written. Only seven sessions offered and program started earlier in the season due to Cypress closure because of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Some club members volunteer for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
2010-11 Dirk Rohde 279 Program Participants
78 Coaches
540 Members
Adjustments to the Track Attack, Race Team and Adventurers (formerly Teens on Skis) programs to better accommodate both recreational and racing skiers. Club hosts their second B.C. Midget Championships at Whistler Olympic Park on March 5-6. Club volunteers and participates in the inaugural Sigge's P'ayakentsut. Jake Weaver is appointed Club Head Coach. Club has two representatives on Callaghan Valley Cross Country (CVXC) board.
2011-12 Dirk Rohde 276 Program Participants
68 Coaches
550 Members
The club race team has its most successful year ever, including our first gold at a Canadian Nationals event - Fred Weaver and Lucas Putnam-Rea in the team sprint. The club helps to host a NorAms event as a member of CVXC. The Saturday afternoon session is no longer offered. The club continues to win the Midget Championships aggregate trophy, its eighth consecutive win.
2012-13 Dirk Rohde 321 Program Participants
(inc. 20 Adult/Masters)
73 Coaches
596 Members
Hollyburn, as a CVXC member, helps to host a very well-received 2013 Haywood Ski Nationals, which was quite successful for the club racers. Several podium finishes were achieved as well as two year-of-birth aggregate awards. The Adult/Masters program is piloted.
2013-14 Dirk Rohde 339 Program Participants
(inc. 10 University, 23 Adult/Masters)
71 Coaches
628 Members
Hollyburn participates in its first-ever club exchange with Nakkertok Nordics from Ottawa. The Adult/Masters program is now a regular club program offering. The University/College Racing program is introduced to partner with and offer training opportunities for those attending local university or college programs such as the UBC Nordics.
2014-15 Dirk Rohde 326 Program Participants (inc. 13 Adult/Masters)
95 Coaches
649 Members
Paid Student Coaches is successfully introduced, providing club teens and opportunity to pick up coaching skills with adult mentors and be compensated for their time. 17 students took advantage of this. Worst snow season in club history. The club provided altenate training and took advantage of nearby Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Gold, a one kilometre track made from stored snow from the previous season, for racing and training opportunities. Coast Cup #1 races were held on Callaghan Gold.

 If you can provide us more information on the history of the club, please contact us.


 A Club on the Move!

by Norm Laube, with input from Dirk Rohde

The Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club, although a relatively new cross country ski club, has its roots steeped in local and national skiing tradition. The club skis at the Hollyburn Ridge cross country ski area of Cypress Mountain, one of three alpine ski mountains in Greater Vancouver.

Hollyburn Ridge was one of the original nordic ski areas starting back in the 1920s, when Vancouverites were known to take a ferry across the Burrard Inlet and then hike for over 4 hours up the hill to the base of the ski area. Started by Scandinavian immigrants, Hollyburn had a rope tow and a notorious ski jump in those early days and many cabins were built from the 1930s to the 1950s. The historic Hollyburn Lodge, originally an overnight ski lodge, still stands today and is a focal point for the cross country area where the Cypress staff serve up delicious hot meals and skiers can warm up by the wood stove from the often damp conditions.

With the popularity of alpine skiing in the 60's and 70's, interest in cross country skiing waned as the focus at the ski area was in creating the Cypress Bowl downhill ski area located just 5 minutes north of Hollyburn. The cross country area, now located in the Cypress Provincial Park, continued to be used by ski tourers and recreational skiers - there was no grooming at this time. By the early 1980s, Cypress Bowl Recreations Limited (CBRL), the operator of the downhill area, took over the operation of the cross country area and began to improve the trail system and set tracks.

In the early 1980's Cross Country Canada, supported the creation of the Jackrabbit Ski League program, in honour of Hermann "Jackrabbit" Johanssen, the legendary Norwegian immigrant to Canada who was still cross country skiing and performing amazing physical stunts as he gracefully aged to over 100 years. In Vancouver, the idea of the program was embraced by Sally Thomson in 1985, who found a willing ski area partner in Seymour Mountain. Although, Seymour had limited ski trails the program started on a small scale with some 70 Jackrabbits participating in two sessions on Sundays. Realizing that the program was going to grow, Sally negotiated successfully to relocate the program to the Hollyburn Ridge ski area of Cypress. Needing help in running the program, Sally recruited Reidar Zapf-Gilje and Richard Routledge who collectively grew the Jackrabbit program to some 150 skiers by 1990.

The program then took a unique turn when CBRL offered to support the program directly through assigning employee Monte Chan to oversee the administration and running of the sessions. Monte was sent to Edmonton to take the Jackrabbit Course Conductor course and CBRL provided weekend ski passes for the Leaders. Over the next 5 years Monte and Velvet Bailes grew the program to close to 300 skiers, which in 1992 was the biggest Jackrabbit Ski League program in Canada. By the 1993 season, CBRL had to limit the number of Jackrabbits to 60 per session (2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday) due to the congestion created by too many groups on the trail network. By 1996, the Jackrabbit program became completely volunteer run as CBRL wanted to focus on its own ski school programs. In 1997, the Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club was incorporated as a society and over the next 5 years the Jackrabbit Ski League program was led by club presidents Tom Bell, Linda Bell and Erin Kenny, with support from long-time volunteers Richard Rickard, Monte Chan and Dirk Rohde.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the volunteers realized that a new wave of energy and committed families was required to carry the club forward. Under the leadership of Norm Laube and Brad Gilbert, the club set about redefining its future based on the CCBC full service club model. The club also realized that a model of sporting excellence had to be achieved to attract and keep kids and families committed to our wonderful sport with all the other competing activities offered in Greater Vancouver.

Based on a foundation of coaching excellence, the club focused its energies on building and retaining a strong group of qualified NCCP Level 1 and 2 coaches. In support of this committed group of coaches, significant effort was then put into creating a strong sense of a club atmosphere. Over the next several seasons the club worked at enhancing and growing its programs and benefits including:

  • Expanding the Ski League program to 7 weekends;
  • Creating sponsorship partnerships with Cypress Mountain, Sigge's, Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak and Ryders Eyewear, and others;
  • Developing an interactive website;
  • Hosting an annual ski swap at Sigge's;
  • Applying for and receiving Provincial Gaming Revenue funds;
  • Starting a fall family hiking program; § Partnering with Nordic Racers to co-host CCBC Fall Dryland Training Camps, the Holly Burn Sprint Race and the National Ski Team Evening;
  • Hosting in partnership with Cypress Mountain the 2010 Legacies Now Ski Tournament;
  • Offering a parent Learn-to-Ski program through Cypress Mountain;
  • Creating the Rabbit Challenge program for Red Badge and higher level skiers who ski twice a week and participate in racing;
  • Fielding a racing team that has successfully competed at Coast Cup, Midget Championships and the BC Championships;
  • Initiating a backcountry touring/winter camping program;
  • Acquiring club uniforms through Louis Garneau, club toques and club t-shirts;
  • Starting an annual on-mountain Registration Day in conjunction with our Annual General Meeting;
  • Creating a club mission and vision statement and a strategic planning process

Now with over 500 members, the Hollyburn Cross Country Ski Club is truly evolving into a full service club. Next season we are offering a Midget program for 12 and 13 year olds who want to focus on improving their fitness and skiing ability in a fun team environment through participation in the BC Cup series. Our parents are becoming active participants who are improving their skiing ability and competing in races as well. Another long-term initiative is the partnership we are working on with the Greater Vancouver YMCA, Nordic Racers, BC Parks and Cypress Mountain to develop a club cabin. We are also looking forward to supporting CCBC and our fellow coast clubs with the 2010 Winter Olympic developments at Callaghan Valley.

Our greatest reward is when we receive compliments from our parents who have repeatedly confirmed that we offer a superb family participation sporting activity - a truly unique and positive experience relative to other activities they are involved in. We look forward to continuing to build on the strengths of our club in the years to come.

A version of this article was featured in the 2004/05 edition of Cross Country B.C.'s magazine Ski Cross Country.


 Cross Country Skiing For Everyone

by Jules Older, is the winner of the 1998-99 Harold S. Hirsch book award. Published by Stackpole Books, the 152-page guide tells how to participate in -- and enjoy -- one of America's fastest growing winter sports.
 

An excerpt from the first chapter:

Cross-country skiing is one of those rarest of human activities in which you have prodigious quantities of fun, clear your head of cobwebs, do your body a major favor, and experience all this the fun, the clarity, the self-improvement in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. For what else on earth looks so breathtakingly beautiful as a glistening coverlet of untracked snow? The lightly falling flakes, the transformed shapes of fir and pine, the frail white-on-white patterns of bird and squirrel tracks their combined effect is an almost dizzying beauty. Add to that the smell of balsam, the tingle of crisp air, and the sound of...nothing at all. Until you stand stock-still in winter woods, you don't really know the sounds of silence.

When you break that silence, when you plant your poles and push off, the still, cold air isn't rattled by the noise of engines or the clamor of lift lines. Even in full flight, the only sounds you hear are the hiss of skis, the steady in and out of your own breathing, and the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of your own heart."

Is this just too good to be true? It must cost a fortune. Maybe you need to be a super-jock. Is it just for the young, the male, the northern-born, the something other than me?

The collective answer is no. In the 1970s someone came up with the phrase, "If you can walk, you can cross-country ski." That isn't quite true, but it's not far off the mark. Cross-country skiing is the winter sport for anyone with enough balance to ride a bike, enough muscle to climb a flight of stairs. It's for anyone as old as two, as young as 111. It's available to anyone with occasional access to six or more inches of snow.

And that age range of two to 111 isn't something I invented. It's the skiing life of one Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen. Jackrabbit first donned skis at the age of two in his native Norway. He continued to ski, cut trails, and enter races in his adopted Canada until well past his hundredth birthday. He was on skis until five days before he died in his 111th year. By 1987, when he died at nearly age 112, he had spent well over a century on skis. One obituary read, "He believed in a simple, vigorous life, but he was no crabbed ascetic. He was a renowned story-teller, smoked and drank and, in his 80s as a speaker at ski banquets, would astound the audience by walking on his hands along the head table."

While a single case does not a theory prove, Jackrabbit Johannsen's vigor and longevity certainly point to the healthfulness of cross-country skiing.

A sport that engages upper and lower body at every step has to be good for you. Especially when it's low impact. Since skiing has less impact than walking and much less than running, it doesn't jar your joints at every step. On top of that, within a few minutes of getting off the level and striding uphill, you've entered an aerobic challenge greater and far more rewarding than any treadmill.

Unlike downhill skiing, cross-country allows you to climb hills without digging in your edges and walking like a duck. The first time you successfully ski uphill, it feels like a small miracle. You've been striding across a field and as you start up a long slope, you discover that if you just keep going -- keep doing what youve been doing -- you continue making forward progress. Up, down and on the level, cross-country skis take you where you want to go.

Here is Kate Carter, editor of Vermont Sports Today, on the pleasures of skiing uphill.
  • The feeling of gliding is what I love most about cross-country skiing. Gliding across a long, flat stretch, keeping my momentum going with long, relaxed strides and easy double-poling is sensational. Even more thrilling is gliding at high speeds downhill, mastering the forces of gravity while unleashing the flow of adrenaline. Most exhilarating, however, is the sensation of gliding uphill, actually defying gravity and skiing up hills as if they were flat.

    I know I am skiing well, that I have gone beyond shuffling, when I am gliding up a hill. It doesn't happen often, but once in awhile everything comes together -- a fresh dusting of powder, the right wax, proficient technique, intuitive balance -- and not even gravity can hold me back.
Along with some 4 million Americans and nearly 3 million Canadians, that destination may include some 600 cross-country skiing areas from the wilds of Newfoundland to the mountains of California. Your companions may be a Connecticut family skiing together, then picnicking together on the tailgate of their Volvo station wagon. They may be a French-speaking team of Quebec racers with flat stomachs and fire in their eyes. They may be a 50ish couple from Vermont or an Alberta grandmother celebrating her 75th birthday or a social club from New Jersey who have discovered cross-country skiing is a pastime they can enjoy together. And they may be a giggling gaggle of school kids on a winter outing, determined to leave their teachers in their powdery dust. Later, as you share hot chocolate with your trailmates in the warming hut, the adults sit around the woodstove and discuss trail conditions, bemoan or exult in the amount of snow back home, and ask the kids traditional Dumb Adult Questions: "So. What grade are you in?"

On and off skis, cross-country skiing covers a multitude of pleasures. Let me tempt you with some examples.

During my first ten years on cross-country skis, I lived in New York City and spent every Christmas with family in Brownington, Vermont. I spotted a pair of Finnish-made wooden skis at Hermans, bought them for $25, figured out how to strap the things to my work boots, read a Swix pamphlet on how to wax them, and commenced skiing across the fields and through the woods of Brownington. During that decade, from 1962 to 1972, I never saw another skier, either live or on film; I guess that defines "self-taught."

Since then, I've skied with happy crowds in Ottawa during the Canadian capital's Winterlude festival, off the highest peak in Newfoundland (dropped in by chopper; rescued -- after the guides got lost -- by snowmobile. Details in Chapter 15), in a saddle high in the Sierras of Nevada, in the shadow of the Ruby Mountains of Colorado and with dozens of African Americans at the Black Summit in Utah. I've skied across Lake Louise and raced a team of huskies over a frozen lake in Maine. Once, during a rare snowfall, I skied through the streets of Dunedin, New Zealand, grinning madly at the startled citizens. I've skied on prepared tracks, across snow-covered golf courses, amidst rock and scrub in unsuccessful pursuit of a herd of caribou, through thorny puckerbrush on Vermont's Catamount Trail, and along the gently curving streets of a New Hampshire condo development. I've also skied across a snow-covered lava field in the frozen interior of Iceland, pulled at frightening speed behind an $80,000 Nissan Patrol equipped with fat studded tires, cellular phone, CB radio, two state-of-the-art locator systems, altimeter, clinometer, inflatable jack and a power winch.

But for the most part, I ski from the back door of my home in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. My wife Effin and I don boots and jump on our skis most days of winter, usually in the early afternoon. It's an hour-long ounce of prevention against cabin fever, RSI and computer madness.

Despite all these years on boards, I am not a gonzo skier, not a racer, not a fearless risk-taker. The truth is, I still love to silently move through snowy field and forest.

Over the years I've come to realize how greatly skiing has enhanced my appreciation of winter. Rather than look at snow and groan about shoveling driveways and getting the car stuck in snowbanks, I look at snow as an invitation to play. And while my snow play takes many forms -- alpine skiing, snowboarding, winter hikes and building snowmen -- cross-country skiing constitutes my most constant, enduring winter activity. I'm stronger, happier and almost certainly saner because of it. Skiing has given me what backcountry guide Allan Bard called, "a quiet mind and satisfied soul."

 Jackrabbit Johannsen

Herman Smith-Johannsen

reprinted from:
Nordic World Magazine
November 1975


The CCC Youth Program is named after this Canadian Skiing legend who lived to 112 years of age. Following is an article reprinted from a Nov. 1975 edition of Nordic World magazine that gives some insights into the life of Jackrabbit.

He's Norwegian-Canadian Herman Smith-Johannsen, skiing pioneer, proponent and in his advancing years--he turned this 100 this summer -- a living monument to the health benefits of Nordic skiing. Here a close personal friend offers a detailed biographical look at this remarkable man.

Ten years ago I wrote, "Sometimes a man becomes a living legend. Such is the Red Bird Ski Club's Herman Smith-Johannsen, the fabulous 'Jack Rabbit' of Piedmont. Skiing has had intrepid pioneers and great champions but it is doubtful if there has ever been a skier who has pushed his trail so far and so illustriously as has the 'Jack Rabbit' ".

Born in Horten, Norway on June15, 1875, Herman Johannsen was thus only' 90 when I wrote those words. But last winter in his I00th year he was still skiing every day and the whole skiing world had 'discovered' him

As a boy Johannsen took part in every school ski jumping competition or cross-country ski race he could find, and won many. By the early 1890's he was rated one of the finest all-round skiers in Norway. All-round, in those days, meant jumping, cross-country racing and the ability to cover all kinds of uphill, downhill and rough terrain. With the boys around Telemarken he learned to ski the real 'slalom', not modern slalom which he has described as "ballet dancing in a fixed groove around flags, In Herman's youth the race was over and around such natural obstacles as trees and boulders

From the great Firdtjof Nansen, who skied across Greenland in 1888 he learned how to ski over 'rubber ice', that treacherous surface which forms when sea ice begins to soften. (Nansen, incidentally, is probably the man who introduced skiing in the Alps). Herman also skied with Roald Ammundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole.

Johannsen is offhand about these contacts and considers his most interesting experiences to have been the long trips he made on skis as a young man through the mountains around his native Nordmarka. He revisited some of these areas when he returned to Norway as a guest-of-honour at the 1960 Holmenkollen. When he was introduced over the public address system, as a 'Norwegian-Canadian' who had pioneered skiing in Norway, Europe and America, he received a tremendous ovation.

In 1894, Herman graduated from the Royal Norwegian Military Academy as a Second Lieutenant and went to Germany to study engineering at the University of Berlin. "I had my skis with me", he says, "and used every opportunity to put them on". He spent several holidays on skis in various parts of Europe and helped to introduce skiing to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I can vouch for this because when I returned from the 1936 Winter Olympic Games, held in Germany, I brought with me a book on skiing by Christel Cranz, the German girl who won most of the honours in women's skiing at those Games. I showed Herman a passage which stated that one of Germany's highest peaks, the Brocken, had first been climbed on skis by a Norwegian in 1895. To my remark "Another first for Norway, Herman!" he replied, "Yes, I was that Norwegian".

After graduating from the University of Berlin in 1899 as a mechanical engineer he took a long ski holiday in Norway and then came to the US to work for the Brown Hoisting Machinery Company in Cleveland, Ohio. "Yes, I had my skis with me", he admits, "the first pair seen in Cleveland parks.

Those skis came into particularly good use again when Herman was sent to sell logging and construction machinery in Canada. The Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway, and the Grand Trunk Transcontinental were being built and his work took him into real wilderness at times. On some trips he lived with the Cree and Ojibway Indians and followed their trap lines on skis. Inevitably he persuaded some of the Indians to try skis in place of snowshoes.

In 1907, at the age of 32, he had what he calls "the most wonderful good luck in my life." He married Alice Robinson, the daughter of a Cleveland judge. Those of us who knew "Mrs. J" can readily agree with Herman. She was willing to join him on any adventure and went with him on several business trips to the Canadian North.

At this time, he decided, with his wife's concurrence, to strike out in business for himself. He spent the years from 1907 to 1915 in the West Indies as a sales engineer, representing various manufacturers of sugar cane handling equipment. He had his headquarters in Havana, Cuba. Although he spent a great deal of time exploring the country on horseback, he describes the period as "a vacuum for me as far as skiing was concerned."

By 1915, the lure of the North became too great and the Johannsens decided that he should try to make a living where he could use his skis. Because of his thorough training in the sale of logging equipment, it was not difficult for Herman to re-establish himself in Canada.

By then the Johannsen family had grown (daughter Alice, son Bob and daughter Peggy had arrived), and Herman settled his wife and children at Lake Placid, N.Y., where they lived for the next few years while he worked out of Montreal. He would return to Lake Placid on the weekends and holidays, and ski around Mounts Marcy, McIntyre, Haystack, and Whiteface. During these years he laid out trails around Lake Placid to stimulate interest in skiing and took part in some races. He didn't volunteer this latter information but I had heard it from other sources and badgered him until he produced some battered old trophies. He couldn't deny what the inscriptions on these cups said.

It appears that in 1923 he was third in the Eastern US 25-mile race and was second in 1924. In 1925 he was fifth in the 10-mile race ("I was never so good at short distances", was his comment). On the surface these are not remarkable performances but when you do a little arithmetic and find that he was 50 years old in 1925 his stock goes up quite a bit.

Lest it be assumed that competition was not very tough in those days, let me add that he was racing against the Satre brothers, and Bob Reid of Berlin Mills, New Hampshire. (All three men should be in the US Ski Hall of Fame, in my opinion).

Herman was one of the founders of Lake Placid's Snow Birds Ski Club, which pioneered skiing in New York State. He was sometimes asked by the directors of the Lake Placid Club to take famous guests skiing. I remember him telling of taking Tom Mix, the cowboy movie star of that era, up Whiteface. He was unimpressed by the honor and his comment to me on the great screen hero was: "He can't ski for beans!". Captain Marsden, President of the Kandahar Ski Club of Murren, Switzerland, the club that introduced downhill racing in the early '20s was another personality who went on one of Herman's little jaunts. Percy Douglas, in his Canadian Amateur Ski Association Year Book in 1927, tells of taking a trip with Herman, his family and Ken, 'the mountain climbing dog from Kenogami' that had been given to Herman by Sir William Price (of the Price Bros. paper company). Ken was a wonderful sledge dog and he and his master made many week long trips, sleeping out in the midwinter snows.

At the end of the First World War, Herman moved his business headquarters to Montreal and divided his interest between the Laurentians and the Adirondacks until 1929, when he brought his family to Canada. I first met him in 1926, when I was a high school student in Montreal. I remember marveling that such an elderly gentleman could ski so actively (he was 51 then.)

In 1930, the International Intercollegiate Ski Meet was held at the Manoir Richelieu in Murray Bay, Quebec. Herman was the chief-of-course and remembers the occasion with pleasure because he was made an honourary Red Bird at that time (the Red Birds is a McGill University graduate ski club founded in 1928). The announcement of his election was made at dinner on the train coming back to Montreal. To show his appreciation, Johannsen stood on his head on a table in the dining car while the train rocked along the northern roadbed. Thus began the traditional ceremony, so familiar to generations of Red Birds. For some years after that 'Mrs. J' had forbidden him to engage in such shenanigans, but in December 1962, on the occasion of the annual Red Birds Moose Dinner at St. Saveur (a couple of miles from Piedmont where he now lives alone-'Mrs. J' died in '63), he disobeyed her when someone gave the old challenge, "Can you stand on your head, Jack Rabbit?" He was 87 at the time.

It has been said that his nickname originally came from the Cree Indians whom he met in his travels that admired his ability to hop about in dense woods on his skis and to traverse long distances. They called him jokingly, "Wapoos" the Cree word for Rabbit. It was in the 1920's, when the Montreal Ski Club had a camp at Canorasset near St. Sauveur, that Herman be. came known as officially as "Jack Rabbit". He organized Hare and Hound, and Bushwhack races and the thicker the bush the better he liked it. The nickname resulted from the fact he was the hare.

When his work took him back to the country of the Cree and Ojibways, he was forced to use skis because of the inaccessibility of the area. It was no great hardship for Herman. Once on a trip north of Lake St. John in northern Quebec, he visited some of the he had known 20 years before and was delighted to find that they were using skis to follow their trap lines and carrying snowshoes on their backs for use only while working over the traps.

During the 1920's and early '30s Herman pursued his hobby of exploring new country and cutting trails. Soon there were a number of fine trails around Shawbridge, St. Sauveur, Ste had Marguerite and Ste. Agathe in the Laurentians. The maps of the day were poor and a lot of pioneering was necessary. The first good maps were pre pared by Drummond Rose in 1933. A couple of years later Jack Rabbit cut and marked the famous Maple Leaf Trail from Ste. Agathe to Shawbridge. He guided parties from Labelle to Shaw- bridge (over the top of Mount Termblant to add variety)- a distance of 80 miles in four days.

Remarkable as his skiing exploits had been to date it was in the '30s when skiing began to be the sport of the masses that Jack Rabbit's fame really spread. To the hordes of city types who came to cling to the first crude rope tows and warm themselves in the com comfortable pensions, this lean old Viking with the piercing blue eyes was a semi-mythical figure He would pass- them on the trail loaded with his pack - and axe, perhaps followed by his dog Ken pulling the special narrow-track- ski toboggan Herman had invented. Or he would blow into Shawbridge during a - snowstorm and casually mention that he had left Ste. Agathe, 25 miles up the line, earlier in the evening.

These were the last years of an era in skiing that may never be appreciated by most of today's skiers But Herman never gave up his fight to lead at least a few away from the tows where Indians "you never see anything but the points of your skis."

He was one of the pioneers of downhill and slalom skiing in the early days of the Red Birds but would have. had no part of it if he had known that "it would develop into a craze for tow hill skiing only." He set the first slaloms on the Big Hill at Shawbridge and on Hill 70 in 1928. 1 remember them well. At Shawbridge, after I had climbed to the top, he diverted the course over the 'Big Rock'. I ran number one and the first thing I knew - I was sailing through the air about 10 feet above the ground. He had neglected to tramp the landing and I lit 5O feet down the hill in two feet of soft snow, falling flat on my face. The other competitors put up such a protest that he - grudgingly by-passed the rock. Afterwards he told me that if I'd had sense enough to do a jump turn off the rock I'd have had no trouble. (He later bowed to public demand on Hill 70 at St. Sauveur, to the extent of including nothing more demanding than a barbed wire fence).

Herman was never one to become overly concerned about hazards other skiers might consider unfair on a ski course. An incident I won't forget w as the time he laid out a cross-country course over the property of Ross McMaster Sr., near St. Sauveur. It had been a simultaneous start and I was leading the pack when I was set upon by two of Ross's dogs. One was a huge black beast that cavorted about barking and snarling in a terrifying manner. The other was a low-slung beagle type of cur that made no outcry but sneaked up behind me and bit me on the calf.

After the race I protested the hostile attitude of the dogs to Herman and he said he would take it up with Mr. McMaster. He was back in a couple of hours to say Ross had given him a couple of drinks and there was no hard feeling. "What about my leg?" I demanded. "Oh!" said Herman, "I decided not to mention it."

In 1929 Herman laid out the course for the first Dominion Slalom Race at Shawbridge. It was won by Harald Paumgarten, a member of Austria's 1928 Nordic Olympic team. (It should be remembered that alpine events were not included in the Olympics until 1936).

Herman was the leader of the Red Bird parties that began pioneer skiing in 1930 on Mount Tremblant, where the Quebec Kandahar has been held since 1932.

At 55 his racing career should have been over but that year he placed fourth in the 18-mile St. Marguerite to Shawbridge race. The next year he was elected president of the Montreal Ski Club, Canada's oldest (the club was founded in 1904).

In 1934 he helped Fred Pabst of the Milwaukee brewing family install ski tows at Ste. Marguerite and St. Sauveur. The first tow in Canada had been erected by Alex Foster on the Big Hill at Shawbridge, Quebec, in 1929.

With money collected by Sidney Dawes, Herman directed the clearing of the Kandahar and Tachereau runs at Tremblant in 1934 and smaller runs at Ste. Agathe, Ste. Marguerite, St. Sauveur and Shawbridge. Herman says ,"All this was done with the idea of teaching people how to ski under control and then go touring. At least that was the idea I had."

In the years after 19 3 5 Herman advised in the development of such areas as Lac Beauport, Mount Orford, Mount Gabriel and assisted in the new Tremblant development by Joe Ryan in Quebec; Collingwood in Ontario and Whiteface in New York.

Herman designed and built many of our ski jumps. The 250-foot Seigneury Club Hill at Montebello, Quebec, the hills at Ste. Marguerite, Shawbridge, Lac Beauport, Ste. Gabriel de Brandon, Grand Mare and Lac Mercier were among those he built in Canada. He also built jumps around Lake Placid and was a consultant in the construction of the 60-meter 1932 Olympic Jump at Intervales.

In 1932 Herman assisted in the training of Canada's Olympic Team. He laid out a 50-km. course at the Seigneury Club in Quebec and also took the team down to Lake Placid. While there he ran training trips from Adirondack Lodge through Avalanche Pass and around Colden and Marcy mountains.

He appeared to have begun to feel his age in 1936 because he entered and won a veteran's race at Shawbridge. The race was only five miles long! However, 10 years later he was feeling spry enough, at age 7 1, to place third in a 10-mfle cross-country race from the top of Mt. Mansfield to the town of Stowe, in Vermont. His last official race was the Red Birds Club Championship when he was 75. He placed third in a field of 20. Herman told me in 1962 that he would still be racing but it caused cramps in his legs at night and -this kept his wife up rubbing them. He reluctantly agreed that at 86 he had better confine himself to laying out and fore-running cross-country courses.

At the outbreak of the Second World War he offered his services for training the troops but was turned down because he was 65 years old, even though he could have run 99 percent of the recruits into the ground. Herman was annoyed but thought that he might still be accepted if he could prove that he was in good physical condition. He maintained a log of his mileage while keeping the Maple Leaf Trail open. His record: 1940-41-980 miles; 1941-42-960 miles; 1942-43-1155 miles.

He kept reporting to the army brass and the brass kept repeating that his age was against him. After five years they finally won the war without him.

After World War II the number of ski lifts and downhill skiing areas proliferated, and cross-country skiing and touring, which had begun to lose ground with the advent of the first rope tows, were reduced to activities for "eccentrics" only. Herman lamented that his tracks were being used by "only a few of us who enjoy getting away from the crowds on the ski tow hills". He had to cut new runs to avoid the many roads, houses and ski lifts that had ruined his old ones. He felt that, "Everything was going all right until we decided to widen the hills and people could go down with control in the shortest possible time. It developed into a racket . People made money and they did as much as they possibly could to make money."

Concerned but not discouraged, Herman continued through the '40s, '50S and '60s to cut trails and exhort people to get away from the crowded lift lines. But he didn't have much success. And then in the '70s came an amazing reawakening. Many who had not really enjoyed lift skiing but slavishly did it because everyone else seemed to be doing it became aware of trail skiing. People who had never skied before were persuaded to get out on cross-country skis and pad along on the flat. Miles of new trails were developed and hundreds of skiers, young and old, began to appear. Last year the two-day, 100-mile Canadian Ski Marathon, which Herman helped develop, was limited to 2500 entrants because more could not be accommodated. The Canadian Ski Marathon starts in Lachute, Quebec, and finishes in Cantley, Quebec, near Canada's capital city of Ottawa.

So the 'grand old man of skiing' has achieved his two great ambitions: He has lived to be 100 years old and he has seen cross-country skiing come back stronger than it ever was.

And how is he doing now that he is 100? After a winter of inaugurating ski events in Canada and the United States, he took off this summer with daughter Alice for a tour of the Arctic ice fields and a visit to his kid sisters (92 and 94) in Norway.


There is also a book written about Jackrabbit by his daughter Alice Johannsen that is generally available at local libraries and through the Sport Information Resources Centre.

  • Title: The legendary Jackrabbit Johannsen.
  • Description: 311 p.
  • Author(s): Johannsen, A.E.
  • Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, 1993
  • Language: Eng
  • Subjects: 1._Johannsen, J. 2._man 3._biography 4._cross-country skiing 5._Canada
  • Level: B
  • Call Number: GV 854.2 J32 #34547
  • SIRC has this Monograph SIRC ID: 326581
  • SIRC Web Page: www.sirc.ca