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Hickory Hills Ski Area to host Great Lakes Division Junior National Qualifier

TRAVERSE CITY—Saturday and Sunday, the City of Traverse City’s Nordic ski course at Hickory Hills will host the Great Lakes Division Junior National Qualifiers.

This is a great feat for city-owned Hickory Hills, and a lot of work went on behind the scenes in order for the course to be able to host a national competition.

Traverse City’s Nordic ski course at Hickory Hills was recently awarded a homologation certification by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation.


“It means a lot. It means that we can actually hold national and potentially even international cross-country ski races here at Hickory, which is just kind of an amazing thing, especially when you consider that Hickory is only a mile and a half from downtown Traverse City,” Preserve Hickory Hills board member Eric Okerstrom said.

The journey to gaining the homologation certification for the course wasn’t easy. There are just three certified courses in Michigan, and 37 of them in the entire country. Hickory Hills is the only course in the lower peninsula with the certification by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation.

“There are certain standards that you have to hit the number of climbs, the type of climbs, the descents, some of the turns. And in addition to that is the safety, the width of the course,” Okerstrom said. “This is allowing us to build skiing here, build more skiing, a higher level of competition in northern Michigan and in the lower peninsula.”

Hickory Hills made the changes and will be hosting their first race on the new course this weekend, the Great Lakes Division Junior National Qualifiers.


Traverse City Central senior, Ella DeBruyn, is currently the first-ranked Nordic skier in Michigan’s female U18 division. She spends six days a week training and her weekends on the road, typically to Wisconsin or Minnesota for races.

“I’m excited to sleep in my own bed the night before the race,” DeBruyn laughed.

DeBruyn has been training at Hickory Hills for the past four years.

“It’s really technical. There’s a lot of climbing and also a lot of downhills that you have to do with a lot of cornering. So, it’s going to be– it’s going to be a tricky one,” she said.


50 to 100 competitors are expected to race in the TC-based Junior National Qualifier. Those behind Preserve Hickory Hills hope the work put in to grant the racecourse its homologation certification positively impacts the community and local economy.

“We’re going to bring a lot of people in from Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula and hopefully over time, even other parts of the country,” Okerstrom said.

He would like to thank the snowmakers and those at Hickory Hills that have made this coming weekend’s race possible with the slow start to the wintery weather.

For race start times click here.

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