Member Bios

Member Biographies

Current Members

Dave Christopherson, St. Anthony, MN

Number of years skiing: More than you.
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Helping coach Vakava skiers to too-many-to-count overall and age-group victories, while getting a good number of National Masters Championship wins myself.
Occupation and other interests: Environmental Researcher at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Biking, hiking, lots of kinds of music.

Kevin Ivens, Champlin, MN

Number of years skiing: 46
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Skinnyski Series Skier of the Year ‘08-‘09.
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Assistant Ski Coach at Champlin Park High School; runs Ivenski Summer Training Program for juniors.
Occupation and other interests: Industrial Maintenance. Beer-making, running, mountain biking.

Paul Olson, Andover, MN

Number of years skiing: 25
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Back in the day… 4th at mesabi, 5th at state, quite a few top 3 at joq’s, 3rd, 4th 5th finishes in 35 km vasaloppet and many bonking experiences.
Occupation and other interests: Mechanical/packaging engineer. Enjoy downhill skiing, waterskiing, road and mtn biking, scuba diving, Frisbee, running.

Nate Porath, Northfield, MN

Number of years skiing: Since 1998
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 8th at MN State Meet in 2000, 28th at 2009 Birkie 50k skate, 6x winner of the Vasaloppet 35k skate (Dala).
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Currently an assistant coach at Northfield High School
Occupation and other interests: Dentist at Midwest Dental in Faribault. I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife Nichole and kids Greta and Anna.

Mary Beth Tuttle, Pine Springs, MN

Occupation and other interests: Physical Therapist. Swimming, biking, running.

Bonnie Weiskopf, Grant, MN

Number of years skiing: 28
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: National Collegiate Cross-Country Skiing Champion (NCSA) 7 times from 1987-1990 (includes freestyle, classic, and relay titles). World University Games team 1991. Olympic Trials 1992 & 1994 (multiple top 10 finishes). Great American Ski Chase 1st overall female 1993, 2nd overall female 1994.
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Minnesota Youth Ski League (MYSL) coach 2002-present. MYSL Battle Creek Youth Ski Club leader 2007-present. Minneapolis Ski Club coach spring 2010. Founder/organizer/coach MYSL East Metro Dryland Training Club.
Occupation and other interests: Engineer (3M August 1997-June 2009), currently working on startup ideas for my own engineering business. Mother of five, ages 2-11. Photography. Running, biking, soccer. Camping, outdoor adventures, family activities/travel. Church

Craig Cardinal, Northfield, MN

Number of years skiing: 22
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 7th at the 2019 Birkie Classic, 33rd at the 2015 & 2016 Birkie Skate
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Assistant Cross Country and Nordic Ski coach at Northfield.
Occupation and other interests: Process Engineer at Sheldahl. Running and racing marathons and ultramarathons, Canoeing, Bicycling on paved and gravel roads, Camping.

Andy Schakel, St. Paul, MN
 
Number of years skiing: 27
Occupation and other interests: Physician. I enjoy spending time with my lovely wife and family and especially trying to keep up with our new son!

Claire Trujillo

Number of years skiing: Since 2009
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Annual sunrise to sunset solstice skis
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Co-founder and running and skiing coach for All Things Project AK
Occupation and other interests: Physical therapy student and co-founder and coach for All Things Project AK.  Running, hiking, drawing, reading, writing, eating peas, playing piano and cello

Erik Pieh, St. Paul, MN

Number of years skiing: Since 8th grade
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Winning Wave 3 at the Birkie, a Horse at the Mora Vasaloppet, and an Axe at the Minnesota Finlandia!
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Volunteer groomer of Columbia Golf Course, University of Minnesota Nordic Ski Club Alumni
Occupation and other interests: Mechanical Engineer; bicycling and bicycles, running, canoeing, backpacking, backcountry camping and my wife, Elspeth Ronnander.

Elspeth Ronnander, St. Paul, MN

Number of years skiing: all my life; racing since age 16
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 2016 11th place American Birkebeiner 55 km classic and making the Minnesota Finlandia Promo Video
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: University of Minnesota Nordic Ski Club Alumni
Occupation and other interests: Nurse Practitioner; planning hiking, paddling, and adventuring trips (especially in the mountains), writing, reading, cooking, and spending time with my husband, Erik Pieh.

Vakava Alumni

Angie Robinson, Roseville, MN

Number of years skiing: since 1982
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 2 top-10 Birkies and several top-10 finishes at US Nationals in ‘90s, World Cup race at Thunder Bay ’94.
Occupation and other interests: Software Engineer. Assistant Nordic Coach for Roseville Area High School. Gardening, sewing, crochet, beading, sustainability, home brewing (throws a good party).

Derek Wallen, Apple Valley, MN

Number of years skiing: This is my 3rd year skiing with Vakava
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 51st at the 2009 American Birkie.
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Graphic design for Finn Sisu
Occupation and other interests: Graphic Designer at Curb-Crowser in Minneapolis. Road biking, trail running, swimming, disc golfing

Brent Oja, Greenville, SC

Number of years skiing: 14
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Groomer at Battle Creek
Occupation and other interests: IT manager for ScanSource Inc. located in Greenville, South Carolina.Work travel for the past year - this will be an "interesting" race season...
Other interests include hiking, guitars, and beer.

Michele Oja, River Falls, WI

Number of years skiing: 6
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: 2007 MN Skinnyski Series Skier of the Year, 2008 MN Skinnyski Series Overall Winner
Occupation and other interests: Executive Assistant to CEO at JCAHPO. Spending time with my family - Brent (teammate and #1 workout partner (currently missing in action)), Patrick (23), Katelyn (22), and Emily (14). Also enjoy swimming, hiking, biking, and gardening.

Kathleen Dewahl, St. Paul, MN

Number of years skiing: 20
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: NCAA qualifier 2008, All-American 1K sprint 2001.
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Assistant Ski Coach at St. Paul Central High School.
Occupation and other interests: Graduate student in astrophysics. Just about any kind of racing (running, triathlon, canoeing), camping, hiking, astronomy.

Cheryl Dubois, North Oaks, MN
Number of years skiing: 19 (4 seriously)
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career:
2009: 19th at Birkie (3rd in age group); 1st at Tour of Anchorage 40k; 4th at Mora Vasaloppet 42k classic; 2nd at City of Lakes Loppet 25k Classic.
2008: New Years Day - crashed while practicing kamikaze downhill’s and partially tore knee ligament, missed most of the season but managed to squeak into the Birkie elite wave. World Masters Championships in McCall Idaho.
2007: 1st overall female in Minnesota Skinny Ski Series; 4th at Fosavatn Ski Marathon in Isafjordur, Iceland
Occupation and other interests: Industrial Hygienist at 3M, coach basketball, canoe, run, hike, cook Indian food, Minnesota Orchestra season ticket holder, read good stuff when I have time. 1979-1983: played basketball for Concordia and Texas Christian Unviversity. 1982: Toured Asia with Athletes in Action basketball team.

Andrew Kromroy, St. Paul, MN

Number of years skiing: 10
Most significant skiing accomplishment(s) from entire career: Top ten at Tour of Anchorage '04.
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: Assistant Nordic ski coach at Saint Paul Academy for the past two years.
Occupation and other interests: Project manager for a Commercial Construction Company.

Katy Splan, St. Paul, MN

Number of years skiing: 18
Involvement in skiing outside of Vakava: While nothing formal, I try to be a great ambassador for the sport, and ski with non-racing family and friends regularly.
Occupation: Chemistry professor at Macalester College.

Rob Edman, St Paul, MN


Number of years skiing: 21
Rob started skiing in 8th grade as a way to stay active between the fall cross country running season and the spring track season. After limited himself to recreational skiing during college, Rob returned to competitive skiing in 2009 and joined Vakava in 2012. In addition to skiing, Rob is a competitive trail runner with multiple top-10 finishes including the Birkie trail marathon, Superior 50, and Superior 100. Rob's favorite ski memory is the 2014 City of Lakes Loppet, when he had a good finish for himself but also helped teammate Mary-Beth to victory in the Womens' race.