Minnesota Youth Ski League

Executive Director

Richard Chin
Pioneer Press, November 13th, 2005

Who is she? "Living here in Minnesota, it's important to teach people to be outside and be active and happy in the winter months, because we live in a winter climate," Amy Cichanowski says.

She should know. The 35-year-old Minneapolis resident spent much of her life as a top-ranked cross country ski racer. Cichanowski (pronounced "chick-a-now-ski") started ski racing when she was about 12, was a Minnesota state high school ski champion, competed in three U.S. Olympic trials, won three Korteloppets and notched a half-dozen top-10 finishes in Worldloppet marathons.

Cichanowski retired from elite-level ski racing in 1996, but she's still involved in cross-country skiing as a citizen racer, head coach for the Burnsville Senior High School boys team and as the new executive director of the Minnesota Youth Ski League.

The ski league is a nonprofit network of clubs in the Twin Cities area, greater Minnesota and Wisconsin that teaches cross country skiing to children ages 4 to 15. Last winter, between 700 and 800 children and teens were registered in the $25, eight-week program that started in 1992.

Cichanowski's part-time job is the only paid position in the organization. She replaced Anne Rykken, one of the league's founders, who was executive director for 10 years.

Cichanowski said her goals for the organization are to use the Internet and e-mail to improve communications, increase the number of clubs and youth involved in the program and possibly increase funding through sponsorships.

She also keeps busy as a small-business consultant, mother of a 7-month-old daughter and competitive rower with the Minneapolis Rowing Club, a sport she took up after retiring from elite-level skiing.