Ever wonder who’s on the other end of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country Twitter feed? This season, that would be Jeff Ellis.
Just over two weeks ago, the husband of American superstar Kikkan Randall stepped into the roll of FIS Cross-Country Marketing Support and assumed responsibility of the federation’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. From here on out, or at least until his contract runs out at the end of March, Ellis will be the one behind all the social media and multimedia coming out of cross-country skiing’s governing body.
Sounds like a good gig. In an email, Ellis wrote he heard about the opportunity “through the grapevine” in the middle of last season. FIS was looking to hire someone who spoke English so he applied in February and learned he was hired in June.
While he didn’t know exactly what he’d be doing until the World Cup season nearly began, Ellis officially jumped in Nov. 19 with some behind-the-scenes work. By the second weekend of racing, he was on camera.
“It is a position that will evolve every week,” Ellis wrote after debuting his ‘Inside the Fence’ series with a GoPro video following his wife around the Kuusamo sprint course.
He hopes the series will become a weekly staple on FIScrosscountry.com and give an exclusive view of the lives of athletes, coaches, wax techs and course preparation.
“With no official TV coverage in North America there is little opportunity for [North American] followers of the sport to see anything but highlights,” Ellis wrote. “Although we cannot provide the race footage, hopefully it is possible to give people a taste of the World Cup experience.”
In his second video, Ellis interviewed Randall after she placed a career-best second in the Kuusamo 5 k freestyle last Saturday.
“You head to Canada after these races … I hear you have a very good-looking Canadian husband,” said Ellis, a native of Orangeville, Ontario.
Randall paused and then smirked.
“Yes, you know, I guess I have that special Canadian connection,” she said.
That kind of moment was what prompted Ellis to apply in the first place. Now, he gets see Randall all winter as opposed to communicating with her from their home in Anchorage, Alaska.
“The 5 months apart last winter was a long stretch and for the foreseeable future while Kikkan is racing that would become the norm,” he wrote. “With this job I will see her all winter, and at the same time for my own future be able to add to my resume great work experience.”
Ellis most recently worked for Alaska Medical Solutions, which he started this past summer for its flexibility. Before that, he produced online content and multimedia for SkiTrax for nearly a year and has worked in the marketing department for Brooks Running Shoes in Canada since 2004.
“I ran the athlete sponsorship program [there] until the end of 2010,” Ellis explained. “That is where my marketing background comes from. Also, I worked with the Australian ski team for the 2009, 10, 11 seasons on the World Cup. So I have a familiarity with the circuit and the life of those not racing.”
For more about Ellis, check out his blog: jeffreyellis.blogspot.com.
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.