Big changes to the team roster and the coaching staff are this spring’s news for the Central Cross-Country Ski Association (CXC). 18 athletes and three coaches will comprise the 2011 team for one of North America’s largest and fastest-growing clubs.

Vacating the post of head coach that he held since the formation of CXC in 2006, Bryan Fish has accepted a position with the US Ski Team (USST) as Continental Cup coach. Jason Cork will be stepping in to fill this void, bringing his experience with Durango Nordic Ski Club, Michigan Tech University, and recent J1 and World Junior Championships coaching staffs to the job. Gus Kaeding, a former CXC athlete, will be stepping up as the team’s elite development coach this season.

Under Bryan Fish, CXC sent its first athlete to the Olympics in Garrott Kuzzy

Olympian and CXC athlete Garrott Kuzzy is optimistic about the changes in coaching staff, saying “I see the changes as positive, all the way around; we’ve now got three great coaches, four if you include Igor Badamshin, instead of just one.”

Turnover among athletes is similarly high. A notable loss to the team comes with the departure of Rebecca Dussault, who along with her husband has taken an internship position at an organic farm in Colorado for the year and is pregnant with her third child, due January 19. Also leaving the team are decorated skiers Kristina Owen, Kelly Chaudoin and Audrey Weber.

The men’s team will be headed by Kuzzy, who will continue to work with CXC after a parallel stint with the USST. Notable newcomers include Santiago Octariz, who represented University of Wisconsin-Green Bay last year as the lone NCAA All-American from the central region, and Tad Elliott, a National Champion and U23 World Championships team member. (Elliott raced for CXC’s marathon squad last year; this year he will be a full member.)

Filling out the remaining spots on the men’s team are Brian Gregg, Karl Nygren, Eric Wolcott, Matt Liebsch, Bryan Cook, Andre Watt, Ben Lannin, and Doug DeBold.

Caitlin Compton and Bryan Cook do a strength workout Photo: CXC

There is an Olympian among the CXC women as well, as Minneapolis resident Caitlin Compton joins the roster. Other new additions are former University of Vermont standout Jennie Bender and Canadian Brooke Gosling. Maria Stuber, who had six top-5 SuperTour results in 2010, returns for another year with the squad, as will JoJo Winters and Melissa Schwartz. Jessie Diggins will be joining the squad full-time this year following her high school graduation.

The roster is an impressive hybridization of veteran and newcomer. “It’s going to be an ideal mix of skiers. I can’t wait to start working with our ‘new additions’—some of the strongest skiers on the circuit,” says Kuzzy, “The vets will have more to learn from them than they will from us!”

The CXC association has enjoyed rapid growth and huge success since it was founded only four short years ago. The program now encompasses not only the elite Vertical Limit team but juniors, masters, and educational opportunities.

The team’s schedule is structured such that athletes participate in a ten- to fourteen-day camp every few weeks and train at home over the weeks between camps. CXC is currently in the midst of their first summer training camp of the season, located in the Saint Croix Valley of Minnesota.

Maddy Wendt

Maddy is on the Nordic ski team at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where her majors are psychology, political science, skiing, and being an awesome JA.

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