Dammen Nordic Ski Race Brings Back Memories of Founder

Updated: 01/11/2014 10:56 PM
Created: 01/11/2014 9:40 PM
By: Sean Boswell

(ABC 6News) -- Austin skiers took a big loop around the Hormel Nature Center Saturday. They were competing in a race that means much more that meets the eye.

"This race was a big thing that we did," said Kyle Dammen, one of the co-founders of the Dammen Nordic Ski Race.

Dammen started the race with his brother, Kevin, in 2009.

"We were big into running, cross-country and track. We didn't really like to run inside and so it was like either run outside in the snow, which wasn't so great or come out and ski which is awesome sport," said Dammen.

Dammen says it's nice that the race is now dedicated to Kevin, who died two years ago in a kayaking incident on Lake Superior.

"He loved the outdoors, and he was just a very giving person. He taught me how to ski, and that's why I started skiing," said Michelle Johannsen, a director of the race, and girlfriend of Kevin.

Johannsen got choked up the moment Kevin’s name was brought up.

"He just liked getting people involved. It didn't matter if you were good or anything. It was just about having fun and enjoying everything," said Johannsen.

The race now helps raise money for scholarships, and the race has become more than what Kyle ever expected.

"It's incredible how many people we get out here each year to ski. When we first started, it wasn't many people who even skied around here, and I think it really helped start new skiers come out," said Dammen.

Dammen Nordic Ski Race brings back Kevin's memories to organizers.