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Northland skiing pioneer, George Hovland, dead at 94

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DULUTH, MN-- A northland skiing legend has passed away.

George Hovland died Sunday at the age of 94.

Hovland grew up in Duluth and found a passion for skiing at a very young age.

At the age of 25, Hovland landed himself on the U.S. Cross Country Ski team at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo.

After the Olympics, Hovland went on to win multiple Berkibeiner races and Vasaloppets. But, those who knew Hovland best say his biggest achievements were in the Northland.

"George has been instrumental in the advancement of the downhill and cross-country skiing in the area," said Jim Wood, Chief of Trails at the Snowflake Nordic Ski Center.

Hovland helped design many trails Northlanders ski today, including Spirit Mountain in Duluth and Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

"This has been the love of his life, one of the loves of his life, this place," said Wood.

In 1993 Hovland built and designed Snowflake Nordic Ski Center in Duluth. To this day, it offers 88 acres of trails carefully designed.

"He studied where the snowfall was in Duluth the early snowfall, and he knew it was along that ridge. Then he bought the property Snowflake sits on right now. He knew it would be a great place for trails," said Bonnie Fuller-Kask, Duluth East High School Nordic Ski Coach.

What Hovland loved most was inspiring and helping young skiers out on the trails through the KidSki program.

"He was around there and could offer advice. Just overseeing it. Making sure it ran smoothly. And it did run smoothly," said Fuller-Kask.

While this last winter was his final one on the trails, his legacy and the trails he designed will live on.

"I think seeing a person like him around gave kids the idea that skiing doesn't end when you graduate high school. I think that is a big thing he taught," said Fuller-Kask.

If you would like to get involved with the KidSki program, you can go here.

John Cardinale

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