The Champions of Champions
This will be the 23rd year of the Michigan Cup. That means there have been 22 years of Michigan Cup champions. You can look over the list in the Michigan Cup brochure this year. They are all there. Eight teams have won the Michigan Cup. Twenty-three women and fifty-four men have won Age Group and Overall Titles. That’s a lot of people to write about, and would you believe that these champions represent three countries. In addition to the USA, Gaber Lah from Yugoslavia won the Overall title in 1998 and both Wendy Blogg/Anderson and Tenho Tikka from Ontario have ventured south to win titles.
The skiers with the most titles certainly represent both the cream of the crop and the most consistent skiers. The Top Ten All Time Michigan Cup Skiers follow:
- Wendy Anderson – (Cross Country Ski Headquarters) - With twelve age group titles and several Overall Women’s Wendy has set a record that only the best can hope to achieve. She began her Michigan Cup career as Wendy Blogg from Blind River, Ontario, met Lloyd Anderson, got married and moved to Ohio and continued racing as Wendy Anderson. She won her first title in 1992 and then proceded to win seven straight Overall Women’s titles from 1998 thru 2004.
- Tom Anderson – (Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team) - This Finnish Yopper with a Swedish name residing in Big Rapids won the first of his eleven Michigan Cup age groups titles in 1985 and continued to pick them up thru 2004, pretty much the entire history of the Michigan Cup. He started in his forties but don’t let that mask his ability. Tom was a perennial top twenty in the Overall Men’s category through his Michigan Cup career.
- Beth Caldwell – (Cross Country Ski Headquarters) – Beth has captured ten age group wins beginning in 1994. Beth has been the stalwart of the master and super master women’s category providing inspiration to other to both keep going and to get going.
- Milan Baic – (Traverse Nordic Ski Team) – Argueably the best skier the Lower Peninsula has produced, Milan has seven age group wins and has been the Overall Men’s Champion four times. He won his first age group title in 1990 and Overall title in 1997. Lately, he and Tim Triebold have had some great battles for the Overall Cup.
- Arne Borgnes – (Ullr, Ullr/Maybury Nordic Ski Teams) – Arne emigrated from Norway after World War II and brought his skiing talent with him. Arne won his first title in 1985 and continued to win titles in Master and Super Master Men’s category thru 2003. Retired and in his mid seventies he can still turn a three hour Vasa or White Pine Stampede.
- Vicky Newbury/Asmus – With five age group wins and three Overall Women’s titles, Vicky has been a stellar Michigan Cup performer. She has also been a standout at Northern Michigan University, on the US Ski Team and after moving to Wisconsin we still run into her at the Birkie or Noquemanon and sometimes back in Michigan. Vicky’s first Michigan Cup win was as a Junior in 1986. She left of college, got married to Tom Asmus, moved back to Traverse City and won three straight Overall Women’s titles from 1995-1997.
- Christian Byar – (Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team) – Christain has 5 age group wins to his credit beginning as a Junior in 1986 and 1988. He then went to NMU, skied biathalon and then came back to the Lower Peninsula to collect another three age group wins in Senior Men. This world traveler is also well on his way to a World Loppet League Master Medal.
- Stephen Smigiel – (Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team) – “Young Steve” began his Michigan Cup journey as a Junior, then went to NMU and skied for the National Champions in 1986 and 1987 before returning to Michigan Cup competition. Stephen has won 5 age group medals in the Senior Men’s category.
- Bill Brundage – (Traverse Nordic Ski Team) – Bill has five age group wins Senior and Master Men beginning in 1989. Bill is one of those athletes that seems to only improve with age and always seems to be in the top 5 or 10 in the Mcihgian Cup final standings.
- Seven skiers are tied for number ten with four age group wins apiece, Roxanne Barton, Natalie Dawson, Lars Wigert, Tenho Tikka, John Gravlin, Jonathon Newbury and Max Weir.
- Teams - Traverse Nordic Ski Club is tops with 10 wins in 22 years. Grand Rapids Nordic Ski Team is second with four wins. Cross Country Ski Shop won three straight titles from 2001-2003. A combination of Detroit Area clubs, Ullr Nordic Ski Team, Maybury Nordic Ski Team and Ullr/Mayberry Nordic Ski Team also has three wins to there credit.
That’s the top individual skiers but how about some real Michigan Cup Trivia
Top Michigan Cup Family – The Weirs, who else, with ten Michigan Cup Age Group wins. Jessica (Scwab), Juli, Max and Micheal have been fixtures on the Michigan Cup circuit since Jessica won her first Junior title in 1993. Max won four straight Junior titles beginning in 1996. And there are still more Wiers skiing.
Top Sisters – A tie here at four, Juli and Jessica Weir and Chase and Cassidy Edwards. Jessica won titles in 1993 and 2004, Juli in 1994 and 1996. The Edwards girls have dominated Michigan Cup Juniors in recent years. Chase won in 2001 and 2002. Cassidy won in 2002 and 2005 and might have won more had this Junior Olympic Champion and National Junior Team member not been pursuing the next level.
Top Brothers – The Weirs again, Max with four and Micheal with two. This brother combination won the Michigan Cup Junior titles from 1996 thru 2001.
Father – Son – The Smigiels, both Yound and Old Dog have won a total of seven age group titles. Stephen 5 and Steve 2. Tim and Andy Triebold have four titles.
Mother - Daughter – The Arnolds – Sue and Molly Arnold won three titles. Sue in 1990 and 1991 and Molly won Juniors in 1991.
Husband – Wife – The Caldwell’s – While Beth has eleven titles, her husband John is also a fierce competitor having won the Super Mater Men’s title in 1996. Milan and Carrie Baic have eight titles, Bruce and Roxanne Barton, six and Curt and Gussie Peterson, three.