USSA’s Bodensteiner Recalls his Korte DQ

Alex KochonFebruary 29, 20125

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To this day, Luke Bodensteiner, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) vice president of athletics, said people don’t believe him when he talks about what happened at the 1988 American Birkebeiner.

Luke Bodensteiner (Photo: USSA)

Seventeen at the time and coming off a Kortelopet victory in ’87, Bodensteiner had registered for the 29 k in an attempt to defend his title. Everything seemed to be going extremely well for the teenager from West Bend, Wis., as he led even the Birkebeiner frontrunners for the first half of their race. Then he missed the turn for the Korte finish.

According to Bodensteiner, the elite coaches and support staff were standing on the cutover, blocking the Kortelopet turnoff as he sped by. He kept going, not realizing that was the turn.

“About two kilometers down the track, I was all alone,” Bodensteiner said over the phone on Wednesday. “I was like, ‘Oh God, I must’ve missed the finish because no one’s around here.’ ”

As he was debating what he should do — turn around and complete the race he registered for (and could legally do at 17) or keep going — Bodensteiner said about eight men caught him. He decided to hang on and finish the 55 k race with them, reasoning he wouldn’t have been able to beat his Kortelopet rival, John Bauer, if he backtracked.

Suffering for the last 10 kilometers without much food, drink or preparation for the marathon distance, Bodensteiner couldn’t remember exactly where he ended up — maybe sixth or seventh. It didn’t matter; a race official later told his dad he was disqualified.

Bodensteiner wasn’t too hard to pick out at the finish in his bright yellow Kortelopet bib.

“It was funny there because stuff like this gets way overblown,” he said. “Literally everyone I ran into asked me about it and no one believed my explaination. I got lost on the track.”

A few years later, Bodensteiner made the 1992 and ’94 Olympics as a member of the U.S. Ski Team. He won several national titles at the University of Utah, developed the USSA’s cross country SuperTour series, and came back to race the Birkie twice — legally.

Regarding the case of Joe Dubay, the College of Saint Scholastica freshman who was disqualified after winning Saturday’s classic Birkie in his teammate’s bib, Bodensteiner said it sounded like the race organizers made the right call.

“They have policies which prevent people from switching bibs; as a race organizer, that’s what you have to do,” Bodensteiner said. “That said the guy had a great race … At the end of the day it’s about performance. It’s not about medals or what’s written down on the results sheet. … You can make worse mistakes, for sure.”

He said Dubay will probably hear about this for years.

“As happened to me, I think he will probably get more attention out of this than he would for winning the Birkie,” Bodensteiner said.

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon ( is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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  • nordic_dave

    February 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Yeeup you’re right Luke. Joe will hear about it for years and yes eventually be able to laugh about it.

  • nate

    February 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t know why he can’t laugh about it now. He made a stupid mistake, but with how hard it is to get into the Birkie as a college skier it is easy to see why this happened. Not that it makes it right, but it is not as big of a deal as some people are making it out to be.

  • Tim Kelley

    February 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I don’t think anyone is really making a big deal out of this. Us older guys all did dumb stuff when we were young. And we got grief for it. But we shrugged it off, grew thicker skin, learned and went on. No big deal. But to think that you can do something dumb in these days of the Internet and not get ridiculed for it is very, very naïve.

    By the way, a kid I know is thinking about applying to St. Scholastica. Is there anyone out there with good SAT scores that they won’t be using? Heck, if the SAT scores are “already paid for” there is no harm in this kid using someone else’s SAT scores to apply to St. Scholastica is there? You wouldn’t want good SAT scores to “go to waste” would you? 😉 Same logic as with the bib.

    Poor kid, like Bodensteiner alludes to, a Birkiemainia hell will now haunt him for life.

  • nordicguy

    February 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    No Tim, that is poor analogy. If Joe had walked around on the podium pretending to be Chris Parr then your analogy would hold water.

  • nate

    February 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Tim – I paid to take the SAT, so your friend can go take the exam in my place, sit through the gruling 3+ hour test, and get a perfect score (i.e. win the whole dang thing). But when he finishes he has to tell the testers he is not the person registered and his score will not count for his permanant record. Now your analogy works.

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