Nordic Elite Team: Meet Dakota and Akeo

Meet our Nordic Elite Team Athletes:

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.

“It’s official,” he said, preempting me, “we got our 501 (c)(3) certification today!”

“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.”


Akeo Maifeld-Carucci

“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.”