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Michigan Cup Committee finalizes 2016 season

Mon, Oct  12, 2015 - By Mike Muha

The 2015-2016 winter marks the 33rd season for the Michigan Cup. Preseason, representatives from each of the Michigan Cup teams meet to discuss the coming season. Teams for 2015-2016 include:

  • Vasa Ski Club
  • Cross Country Ski Headquarters
  • Straits Striders
  • Hanson Hills/Cross Country Ski Shop
  • Grand Rapids Nordic Ski
  • Team Team NordicSkiRacer

The University of Michigan Ski Club also participated last year, with their fees waived by the Michigan Cup Committee to promote younger skiers in the sport. Their numbers are not include because a roster was never received from the team.

525 skiers skiers, through their teams, paid $6 each to belong to the Michigan Cup Cross Country Ski Racing Series. After an increase of 74 skiers from 2013 to 2014, the number of Michigan Cup skiers dropped slightly in 2015:

Michigan Cup membership, 2013-2105

There was quite a spread in terms of team size, from 41 members up to almost 200 members. Team size, however, is not necessarily representative of how many people on the team actually race, with many to most skiers in some clubs mainly recreational skiers. Teams with large participation in the Michigan Cup have an advantage in winning the Team competition:

Number of Michigan Cup skiers by team in 2015

So what happens during a Michigan Cup Committee meeting?

Up to three representatives from each team may attend the meeting, which has been held at Higgins Lake for the past many years. Each team gets one vote. Key officers on the Committee include:

  • Ernie Brumbaugh, Chair
  • Carol Mueller-Brumbaugh, Treasurer
  • Ken Dawson, Points Keeper
  • Chris Jones, Brumbaugh Cup Points Keeper
  • Mike Muha, Web Master

Occasional committees are formed and disbanded as needed to research special topics.

The meeting always opens with a formal review of the budget. Carol provides a detailed financial report documenting all income and expenses. All expenses must have a receipt for the Committee to reimburse an expenses. Expenses include buying all the pins, medals, cups and other awards given to deserving racers, money for services such as brochure design and printing, small stipends for points keeping and web upkeep, and money donated to support junior racing. Income consists entirely of fees from skiers and a small amount from advertisers on the Michigan Cup web site.

The Michigan Cup Series generally runs a break-even operation, with income and expenses fairly close. in the $3,000-$3,500 range each year. Want to know details? See your team captain: He or she has a copy of the financial report.

Below are discussions and decisions of the 33rd Michigan Cup Committee.

Race Schedule

The race schedule was pretty straight forward this year as no new races were added to the calendar. The only decision need was what was the best day for the Muffin Race. The Committee, in conjunction with the race director, determined February 28 (same the Black Mountain Freestyle) was the best day, as juniors general do not race at Black Mountain.

A more interesting discussion ensued about the Junior National Qualifier races and other junior races. The JNQ races this year are on very tough courses. This years Great Lakes Division JNQ's are on the Michigan Tech Trails (Upper Peninsula), Telemark Trails (Wisconson), and at Black Mountain, with big climbs and steep technical descents. Some of the committee members asked why couldn't the JNQs all be in the Lower Peninsula so more lower peninsula juniors could participate. Nick Baic, coach for the Great Lakes Division said the goals were different for skiers wanting to race recreationally versus those trying to work their way to a slot on the US Ski Team. Racers with long-term ambitions need to race on the hardest courses available since all national and international competitions for juniors are held on very difficult courses. Nationally, junior courses are harder than the hardest Michigan Cup senior races.

The race schedule will be posted on the Michigan Cup web site shortly.

Bob Frye bakes his first oat bran muffins...and he's proud!

Bob Frye bakes his first oat bran muffins...and he's proud! Michigan Cup Committee members were happy to eat his creations.

Higher Education

This season, the Michigan Cup Committee approved a motion to allow free participation for higher education ski clubs or varsity ski teams as long as they submit a team roster in advance, following normal roster submission guidelines.

Races Without Timing

The Vasa Ski Club requested that the Lakes of the North, the first race of the season, be held without having timing. Instead, the Club asked if they could just track finish order. A previous experience with timing went poorly and they want to keep the cost of this early season race low. Getting a professional timer would cost $500 and raise the cost to race participants. The committee voted that any early season race could forgo timing.

Noquemanon Ski Marathon

Many years ago, the Noquemanon Ski Marathon was added to the Michigan Cup schedule because many Michigan Cup skiers raced it and we wanted to help promote the Noquemanon efforts. One problem is that down-staters are at a disadvantage because of the long drive to get to Marquette, limiting participation. A motion to remove the Noquemanon from the Michigan Cup Series was voted down.

Fun Series

Last year the Committee created a Fun Series of shorter race options for several race weekends. For example, the 15K Frosty Freestyle is a Michigan Cup race, and the shorter  5K Frosty Freestyle would be be a Fun Series race. Trying to keep track of who did which race made scoring difficult. The Committee made three decisions:

  1. The Fun Series will continue.
  2. Skiers will earn one (1) participation point that counts toward Team points only
  3. Team Captains must submit a list of team members who participated in each Fun Series race to Ernie Brumbaugh for the points to count. This is to reduce the load on the points keeper who already have a very difficult job.

There was extensive discussions about how many points to award for participation. 1 point? 5? 10? Pros and cons discussed:

  • Higher participation points might get more non-racers to race in the fun race in support of their team.
  • Participation races in the past have always awarded only 1 point, so there's a precedent.
  • Although somewhat unlikely, it would be possible with 5 or 10 points for participation for someone racing in the Fun Series to get more points than someone racing in the normal Michigan Cup race.

In the end, motions to raise participation points above 1 were voted down.

Junior Support

Last year, the Committee provided support for lower peninsular junior racing by helping underwrite the cost of the annual Holiday Junior Ski Camp, which was moved from Boyne Valley Lodge (after it was sold) to Shanty Creek, and by providing some support for the four juniors who qualified for and raced in Junior Nationals. The Committee voted to continue providing support for the 2015-2016 season.

40th Anniversary for the Vasa and White Pine Stampede

The Committee will award both the North American Vasa and White Pine Stampede a plaque for thanks for a job well done at the awards ceremony of both races.

Succession Plan

Most of the member of the Michigan Cup Committee are in their 50's, 60's or 70's. The chair and treasury have been performing in those positions since the 1980's. It's clear the Committee needs more depth from a age standpoint, and needs people to step up into leadership roles. Some thoughts on how to go forward:

  1. Create job descriptions for chair, treasurer and points keepers so potential candidates understand what each position entails.
  2. Create terms for each position.
  3. Subdivide the jobs into other positions to reduce the workload.
  4. Create stipends for all positions to reward people for their participation.
  5. Make team captains rotate through the different roles, or a least the role of chair.

The Committee has asked the current officers come up with a secession plan that includes a brief job description of each position, how long the term of service should be, and how succession should take place.