Nordic Program Director, Bernie Nelson sat down with Coach Luke to see what brought him in to coaching and what he enjoys about working with the athletes. These are his answers:
I started skiing in 7th grade on the junior high team, because my friend told me it was just as fun as downhill skiing and we could still hit jumps.
I raced for my high school team during highschool, and went to junior nationals as part of High Plains division. In College I raced 4 years for Montana State University with Bernie!
Two years after I had graduated college, I was living and working in Lander, and the highschool team was low on coaches, so I volunteered 2 days a week and race weekends. I thought my college racing background could bring a different perspective to the team and help get kid fired up. My job was developing and coaching a youth program in Lander, kind of like a hybrid of our minis and youth. I had been traveling the previous 2 winters before moving to Bend, and not coaching, but had talked to Bernie and Bend sounded like a cool place so I decided to move out here. When I showed up Bernie offered me the job and I loved it!
When I coach, I try to be a motivator. I dont want to be constantly barking out and telling them what to do. I aim to be present and giving tips and examples when needed, but I want the motivation and improvement to come from within each skier, because i think it is more powerful when they are seeing improvement and doing it for themselves, not because a coach told them to do it.
I love agility games, because learning to stay on your feet and developing the balance and reflexes that these games require helps in racing later on, as well a just other aspects of being active in life.
When you are competing, you strive to be well rested, eat healthy, and often focus on yourself. Coaching, especially race weekends are basically the exact opposite of that. You are focusing on anyone except yourself, sleeping very little, and surviving on coffee! It is the same because we are a team and striving to do the best possible personally and for the team. Skiing and coaching have definitelly been positive. I have met so many good people, had so many good experiences, and it has made me who I am today. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
I fight fire for the Forest Service. For the past 3 years I have been a sawyer on the Boise Hotshot Crew. We are a crew of twenty people that go all over the country fighting wildfires.
I will ski in one form or another as long as I can walk, and as long as I can keep passing on the knowledge and skills I got from the great coaches I was lucky enough to ski with when I was younger, I will try to keep doing the same, so they can hopefully benefit from skiing as much as I did.
Our trip to Cyclocross Nationals is always a very big learning experience for all of the Riders and they take away important lessons from their experience that helps them define what they want out of the following season.
This year, we had 16 athletes from our Academy team, but we met former athletes & coaches, saw old friends, met new friends and spent five days learning every nook and cranny of that race course together. We’ll be publishing a lengthy video soon, but here are a few photos from the trip.
Special thanks to all of the people who helped us with this trip!
Bart Bowen and everyone who donated to the CXmas Fund
Deschutes Brewery Team for their donation
Erik Tonkin and Team S&M for hosting the practice race
Molly Cameron with PointS Racing
Steven Beardsley from PDX Devo
Sam Vickery and the Durango Devo Crew
Coaches Marcel Russenberger, Matt Fox, with help from Deschutes Brewery Team members James Williams and Rodney Trepess
The Academy Parents who traveled all that way to cheer the team and support their riders
Coaches Joanne Eastwood, Rex Shepard and Cody Peterson who helped the team through the regular season
Crows Feet Commons, WebCyclery, Sunnyside, Gear Fix and Hutch’s all helped fix-up our loaner bikes, supplied parts for the team and service for the racers
We have lost a special member of the Bend community and the BEA Family. We are sorry to report that David Kurtz, Nordic skier, Coach, and friend, has passed away. Kurtz had a such a positive impact on countless athletes and coaches at the Academy; he was with us from the very beginning and he will be remembered as someone who created amazing connections with kids, who encouraged them to try hard and give their best. He is missed.
Any loss, especially an unexpected one, can affect children in different ways. If your child knew Kurtz, we encourage you to speak about what he or she may have learned from him and the type of qualities he had that others admired.
We also have resources to help you discuss difficult subjects with your child and to cope with loss. If you would like to be connected with those resources or if we can help in any way, please feel free to contact me directly at Sandy@bendenduranceacademy.org or call our office at 541.904.5048.
David’s family is planning a memorial on January 20th and they have extended an invitation to all of us at the Academy.
On behalf of all the entire Coaching and Admin staff, we thank Kurtz for all of his dedication and support to our athletes over the years.
Bend Endurance Academy
Rosary for David will be at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 120 S. Main, Prineville, at 7 PM Friday, Jan. 19.
Funeral Mass will be at Historic St. Francis Church, 494 NW Lava Rd, Downtown Bend, at 10 AM, Saturday, Jan. 20.
Reception and Celebration will be at the Bend Church First United Methodist Church, 680 NW Bond St, Bend, at Noon, Jan 20.
You may view David’s obituary and sign the guest book at BairdFH.com.
David Kurtz Memorial Scholarship Fund
His family have established a scholarship fund through the Bend Endurance Academy that will support Nordic athletes who need financial assistance. More details on how to donate to the fund and how to apply to receive funds will be available soon.
Contact Sandy Visnack to learn more: Sandy@bendenduranceacademy.org
David helped Coach Bills kids to setup their workbench.
Kurtz leading the skiers through another fun day of exploring in the woods on skis.
Sandy Visnack of Bend, Oregon has been named the next Executive Director of the Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) by the organization’s governing board. Ms. Visnack will assume this new role on January 8, 2018.
“We are excited to announce the selection of Sandy Visnack to be our next Executive Director,” says Ellen Grover, BEA Board President. “In 2018, as BEA celebrates its 9th year serving youth in Central Oregon, we need a leader who has the vision, skills, and capacity to strategically guide our organization forward. Our board has great confidence that Sandy will build upon the strong foundation BEA has created, further engage youth and families in our programs, and develop rich and meaningful relationships with our donors, sponsors and nonprofit partners.”
Ms. Visnack’s background uniquely positions her to assume the role of Executive Director. With significant experience working with youth and families, in senior management roles in the education and non-profit sectors, and a passion for outdoor sports, Visnack will advance the organization’s current strategic priorities and guide BEA’s future contributions to serving youth, maintaining high-quality programs, and promoting active, healthy lifestyles. Visnack shared, “I am honored to serve the BEA community and support the program directors, coaches and staff. BEA has a rich history of offering quality programs and activities for youth of all ages and abilities and is poised to grow in even more in upcoming years. I want to help BEA strengthen the framework of the organization and develop the resources necessary to meet the needs of our growing community in Bend and across Central Oregon. Joining this group of highly skilled, thoughtful, and hardworking people is an opportunity I could not pass up.”
Visnack has a Master in Nonprofit Management degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Vermont. She also has over 20 years of experience working in education and in the nonprofit sectors. Past roles have included the Coordinator of Residence Life at Colorado Mountain College, Executive Director of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, Development Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as Grant Writer and Director of Communication for NeighborImpact.
For more information about the Bend Endurance Academy or the selection of Sandy Visnack as Executive Director, please contact Ellen Grover at 541-410-3231 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Ms. Visnack directly, email email@example.com.
About Bend Endurance Academy: Since founded in 2009, Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) has grown from humble beginnings to serving more than 1000 youth in 2017. BEA is a public benefit 501(c)(3) that organizes and operates endurance activity programs in Central Oregon, concentrating in three core disciplines: Nordic Skiing, Cycling & Climbing.
Mission: The Bend Endurance Academy promotes healthy living through active, outdoor experiences. All programs offered emphasize teamwork, personal growth, and community responsibility.
Vision: A world with active, inspired and more engaged people.
Dakota Blackhorse von Jess and Akeo Maifeld-Carucci
Some of you may know their names, others have maybe seen them spinning laps on Skyliners this summer and some yet might not know that BEA is home to two professional skiers. We are excited to formally introduce you to the Bend Endurance Academy Elite Team – two athletes chasing their Olympic dreams, inspiring all of our young climbers, cyclists and skiers to do the same.
Being a professional athlete is more than adding up the training hours for these guys; it’s about shared experiences with the community; it’s about the passion, determination, joy, grit, and love for sport we all celebrate by climbing higher, riding farther and skiing faster together.
Dakota, bib 1, and Akeo in bib 10, leading the way for BEA’s Nordic Team!
Dakota Blackhorse von Jess
“After the final race of the US National Championships in January of 2009 I called my coach Ben Husaby to give him the race report.
“Woah,” I replied, “that’s awesome! Also… I just made my first World Cup team…”
That is the genesis of BEA as I remember it. Exciting days from which I’ve never looked back. Since graduating from Dartmouth College in 2009 with degrees in Computer Science and Environmental Studies I have pursued ski racing full time winning several National Championships, racing in many World Cups, and finishing 30th at the World Championships in 2015.
Some of you may know me as the Associate Director of the Bend Endurance Academy, but that role is balanced with my professional ski racing career.
My goal this year is to compete at the Olympics in South Korea this February (and on the World Cup for most of the winter). I am incredibly lucky to have been a part of the Bend Endurance Academy since its inception, not just watching but actively helping the organization grow and change over the years.
This is a special organization built by incredibly special people. Thank you all for being a part of it.”
“Born and raised in Bozeman, Montana, I went to Harvard University graduating in 2015 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. This will be my third season skiing professionally, all under the coaching of Bernie, first in Bozeman and now here. I feel honored to be here and have the opportunity to focus my life on racing.
I grew up seeing ski racing as the avenue that would take me to my dream of being an Olympian. While that dream is unchanged, I am incredibly grateful for all the unexpected lessons and experiences that this path has shown me.
In the end, my results will represent what I did, but forever what I will be is a Nordic skier. I learned to work when no one is watching, to play when the pressure is mounting, to befriend strangers on those infamous powder days. The most powerful thing I gained on this journey is the community. I am comforted to know it is something I will never lose. From my exceedingly generous host family, the Christensens, to the heart-warming swarms of BEA’s little two-wheeled rippers, from our fabulous coaches and program directors to all the parents, alumni, and affiliates, this community has welcomed me with open, supportive arms.
So thank you BEA, and thanks 10-year-old self for choosing this path.”