Linking Turns: Spirit’s woes, a golden Minnesotan and why skiers live longer

Midwest Ski Journal likes to highlight a few pieces of skiing internet worth your time in Linking Turns. Find the best, most important, least important and otherwise links here each week.

This week we re-examine the issues facing Duluth’s Spirit Mountain. Then, we applaud Minnesota’s next great winter athlete, whose discipline is slightly different than ours. Finally, we ask if skiers really do live longer than other people and why.

TURN 1: Duluth’s city-run Spirit Mountain ski area at financial crossroads (Dan Kraker/Minnesota Public Radio)

At the end of 2019, the city of Duluth came to the aid of Spirit Mountain, propping up the community ski hill with $235,000. The money came with the caveat that the hill make major changes in its business model so it would not have to return to City Hall hat in hand again.

It appears, however, that Spirit is hurting again. Like many hills, the early shutdown of 2020 due to COVID-19 dinged its bottom line due to the loss of skiing revenue, but also from its popular mountain biking offerings and event spaces.

In September, the city swooped in with $300,000 more to help with COVID-19-related losses. Now, residents and city councilors are split on whether the city should continue to support this hill that doesn’t turn a profit.

To keep dumping [money] into Spirit Mountain and to see no change and you’re just getting the same result — it’s just always in peril. We need to just cut ties, or have someone else assume that risk, not our city.

Resident Chris Adatte via Dan Kraker/Minnesota Public Radio

At the end of the day, I think it is a really important asset in our community, but we have to be able to support it. And we have to be able to do that in a way that makes sense for both our residents and our tourist economy.

Arik Forsman via Dan Kraker/Minnesota Public Radio

TURN 2: The Olympics Were No Fluke. American Women Are Excelling in Cross-Country Skiing. (Shauna Farnell/New York Times)

It’s nordic, I know, but it is “ski” and it’s certainly “Midwest” so I’m well within my mandate here.

This New York Times piece is yet another recognition of Minnesota’s own Jessie Diggins and her rise to dominance in the cross country skiing world. After her Olympic gold in South Korea, Diggins went on to win the Tour de Ski multi-day stage race.

Diggins, from Afton, is young and just getting started on the world stage. One can only wonder if a career of dominance will bring her as much notoriety as Burnsville’s own Lindsey Vonn. Different disciplines, of course, but Americans (and Midwesterners) love a winner. Go get ’em, Jessie.

TURN 3: Skiing might just help you live longer (John Grollmus/Inlander)

Headlines like this are going to earn my click every time. Well written, editors of Inlander.

The gist of the piece is that many of the nation’s highest life expectancies are in ski towns. So, is there something about the act of skiing that adds to life?

Exercise, money, camaraderie and social activity are all hallmarks of both ski towns and long lives, so it may not be the act of skiing that extends life, but rather its surrounding effects.

Still, if we are drawn to skiing and skiing draws these life-affirming attributes, I’m still all the way in.

Is it an indisputable fact that skiing makes you live longer? Can it be said with any amount of certainty that life on the ski hill is more fun? Is there really something in the air up there?

Well, maybe and maybe not. However, what can be said for sure is that it certainly can’t hurt, so get up to the mountains soon. Try rubbing Gore-Tex-covered elbows with mountain folks on a more regular basis. Maybe even try developing a really regular skiing habit because who knows, you might just live to be 100 if you do. 

John Grollmus/Inlander

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