Three of the largest cross country ski organizations in the Central Region combine forces to start a professional racing team Minneapolis (July 2, 2021) — Central Cross Country Skiing (CXC), the Loppet Foundation, and the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) are teaming up to create a high performance racing team – so that the next Jessie Diggins can stay home to train, inspire future generations, and win Olympic medals. Team Birkie is based out of the Trailhead at Wirth Park, The Loppet Foundation’s headquarters in Minneapolis. The Team will conduct training camps in the Hayward/Cable Area and around the Central Region, as well as training and competition trips around North America. The name “Team Birkie” is an homage to one of the first clubs to promote high level training for juniors, seniors and masters in the 1990’s in the Twin Cities and Hayward area. Led by former US Ski Team Coach, Steve Gaskill, Team Birkie helped several athletes achieve World Cup and Olympic starts. Steve Gaskill’s most lasting legacy with Team Birkie was educating and mentoring a whole cadre of Midwest coaches who continue to coach and organize xc ski programs around the country.
Three organizations have been working closely together for the past year to launch this team, and this effort and sentiment is summed up by Ben Popp of the Birkie Foundation, “Affording these athletes an opportunity to strive to be the best in the world takes a village, and we are excited to be a part of it.”
The theme of having the entire Central Region supporting Team Birkie athletes is the key to long term success of this program. Claire Wilson of the Loppet Foundation, “We are thrilled to be part of this regional collaboration – not only by our three organizations, but looking to all Central ski clubs, citizen ski races, and ski shops.”
“High-performance team is a much-needed athlete development program for the region that will provide a platform for the regional best athletes to excel and play mentorship roles to clubs and coaches around the region.” – Yuriy Gusev, CXC Executive Director
The Coaching Staff
- Caitlin Gregg – Head Coach
- Leo Hipp – Assistant Coach
- Jeremy Hecker – Assistant Coach
The coaching staff will be led by the 2015 World Championships bronze medalist Caitlin Gregg. Caitlin will be supported by Leo Hipp and Jeremy Hecker. In addition to a great coaching staff, Team Birkie has two Midwestern legends of xc skiing who are mentors and training partners to our team athletes: Brian Gregg and Matt Liebsch regularly join the team for training sessions, and are able to share their years of race and training experience with the younger athletes.
Head Coach – Caitlin Compton Gregg
Caitlin Compton Gregg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a 2015 World Championship Bronze Medalist from Falun, Sweden and was a member of the 2010 Winter Olympic Team in Vancouver, Canada. She has also competed at 5 World Championships – four times for Cross Country Skiing and once for Biathlon. Caitlin has also won the American Birkebeiner more times than any other athlete, and has many City of Lakes Loppet wins under her belt as well. A US Ski Team Alum and an 8-time National Champion, Caitlin has been living and training in the Minneapolis area for over 15 years and knows how to maximize every inch of terrain in our urban playground. She has used her creativity to compete and succeed at the highest level in the sport of cross-country skiing. She and her husband Brian Gregg, also a 2014 Olympian, started Team Gregg in 2013 and have enjoyed pushing their limits to succeed in results and marketing on the World Stage. When not coaching or taking care of young daughter Heidi, Caitlin enjoys sharing her passion for health and the outdoors with the youth in her North Minneapolis community.