Published November 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Mount Itasca receives $35,000 to stay open this winter

Thanks to $35,000 in support from the Greenway Recreation Board and Iron Range Resources, all skiing venues at Mount Itasca will be open again this year.

By: Jon Denney,

Thanks to $35,000 in support from the Greenway Recreation Board and Iron Range Resources, all skiing venues at Mount Itasca will be open again this year.

Venues included in the Mount Itasca Winter Sports Center in Coleraine are cross-country, biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic-combined, downhill and snowboarding. The money provided for this year will allow Mount Itasca to provide weekly winter activities for local youth and families as it has in the past.

A large contingent of key supporters led by state Sen. Tom Saxhaug, state Rep. Loren Solberg, state Rep. Tom Anzelc and Iron Range Resources Commissioner Sandy Layman participated in a joint meeting between the Itasca Ski and Outing Club and the Greenway Joint Recreation Board. The result of the meeting was a short-term plan to allow continued operations this year, in addition to an announcement to develop a long-term sustainable program.

Pat Guyer, who recently attended a Blandin Foundation-sponsored leadership conference, has taken the lead role in developing and securing a long-term funding solution for Mount Itasca. Sandy Layman pointed out that Mount Itasca is an important economic opportunity for Greenway, Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities in Itasca County. “I’m very pleased to see the enthusiasm Pat brings to this project, and Iron Range Resources is pleased to be a catalyst in solidifying the long-term success of Mt. Itasca,” Layman said.

The announcement of financial support is crucial this year, as Mount Itasca is scheduled to host the U.S. Olympic Biathlon Trials and the Junior Olympic Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined tryouts in December. Mount Itasca Biathlon member and volunteer Ken Patzolt explained, “Events of this caliber do not come around very often. We have one shot to put on the best show possible. If we are successful, future opportunities will follow.”

Mount Itasca has new and exciting plans for local participants as well. Mount Itasca manager Jeff Fortune, who oversees the downhill and snowboarding areas, added, “We will be adding free weekly learn-to-ski lessons, increasing our ski and snowboard rental programs, and promoting school and group events at Mount Itasca this year in an effort to introduce more families to this community asset.” In addition, Mount Itasca hopes to raise money to add a beginners’ tow and possible tubing area in future years.

Jon Denney, president of the Itasca Ski and Outing Club, said, “We would like to thank our state legislators, city and county representatives, the Greenway Joint Recreation Board, Iron Range Resources, and the Blandin Foundation for this support that will allow Mount Itasca to thrive this winter as it has for decades. We greatly look forward to the continuance of the great skiing traditions in this area, as well as to introduce those who have never skied before to this wonderful northern Minnesota way of winter life.”

Submitted by Jon Denney, president of the Itasca Ski and Outing Club.

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