The Great Lakes Winter Trails Council (formerly The Great Lakes Nordic Ski Council) named Milan Baic, the “Ski Coach of the Year.” Milan received this special award and recognition because of the countless hours that he has dedicated to promoting cross country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
Milan was presented his Coach of the Year plaque during the North American VASA Awards Program. Traverse City’s Coach K (John Kostrzewa) made the presentation. Coach K was the Coach of the Year recipient in 2005. country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
Milan has been winning ski races since grade school. At Michigan Tech Milan earned All-American honors, was the 15km National Champion in 1981 and he anchored the Huskies’ 3X5km Relay Team that won the 1981 National Title! country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
Fast forward to 2010. Milan wins gold at the White Pine Stampede and the North American VASA. And then in Sweden at the World Masters Milan medals in skate, classic and relay events. country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
When Milan was nominated for the Coach of the Year Award all of the Great Lakes Winter Trails Council board members had moving stories about Milan. He is respected by beginner skiers to elite racers. And then there is the fact that he has provided lessons and special elite training to many of our local Junior Olympic Skiers. country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
It is impressive that over the years Milan has been able to find the time with work, his training and his race schedule, to provide lessons and promote skiing. When Milan’s wife Carrie isn’t racing herself she can be found out on the race course proving feeds. It is all about teamwork. country skiing in the Great Lakes Region.
One of the most memorable results of Milan’s coaching career came in 2003, when many of the Junior Olympic Athletes he had been assisting with advanced training landed on the podium at the Fairbanks, Alaska Junior Olympics (boys and girls) – including one Gold Medal, four Silver Medals and one Bronze (and a record number of ALL Americans for the Great Lakes Junior Olympic Team). The biggest thrill in Fairbanks was when the Great Lakes girls relay (Anna Coulter, Julia Coulter and Cassidy Edwards) came into the stadium neck and neck with Team Alaska and ALL of the regional teams, excluding Alaska, cheered for the Great Lakes team. In a photo finish for the gold, Great Lakes ended up in silver position by 1/100th of a second. Silver medals and All-American honors were a dream come true for the Great Lakes Team.
And an even bigger surprise for the Junior Olympic Team came the following year at the Lake Placid Junior Olympics when Milan and his dad Vojin paid the team an unexpected visit just before the JO Team Relay. Milan and Vojin had traveled from Michigan just to cheer on the Great Lakes Team. If Milan was the team’s hero, then Vojin was a living legend. Vojin had been a driving force in helping to launch USSA (United States Ski Association) and Vojin has been one of the USA’s leading proponents of cross country skiing. Vojin was also a member of the 1948 Yugoslavian Olympic Nordic Team. And no one is more enthusiastic than Vojin when he greets a fellow skier in town, at practice or on race day. At Lake Placid the Great Lakes girl’s relay team (Anna Coulter, Julia Coulter and Cassidy Edwards) defeated the invincible Alaskans, but were edged by the super talented Eastern Region JO Team for the Gold. Silver medals, All-American honors and out skiing the Alaskans were a dream come true.
Milan has certainly gone the extra mile to help our junior racers. He has definitely helped to make dreams come true for many of these juniors.
Congratulations Coach Milan!
The members of the Great Lakes Winter Trails Council include the region’s leading cross country ski areas and supporting businesses. The Great Lakes Winter Trails Council is dedicated to promoting cross country skiing and winter trail use in the Great Lakes Region.