Rhinelander today has a fairly well known cross country ski program in its schools. But it wasn’t always this way.
Rhinelander High School Nordic Coach Charil Reis loved skiing but realized there wasn’t going to be a place for her daughter to ski. So she got together with the Northwoods Nordic Ski Club and they decided that they would just start over.
Reis together with Rhinelander Middle School Nordic Coach Jim Wood have overseen and grown the program. Both strongly believe that skiing should be fun. That approach to Nordic skiing has led to an increase in the number of skiers over the last few years.
Reis attributes the success of the program to the parents.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the parents and the Board of the Northwoods Nordic Ski Club,” says Reis.
Rhinelander’s program may have been in a bit of a lull for a while but the area has a strong history of nurturing prominent skiers. Among them is Bryan Fish, the U.S. National Ski Team Development Coach. He got his start in Rhinelander.
“We just always did things together around here,” says Fish. “We’d bike together, run together, and ski together.”
Fish comes to the kickoff Nordic ski meeting every year to talk to the students. It means a lot to the kids.
“For someone from Rhinelander to have that influence in the nation, that’s pretty easy as coaches to got to the kids after a hard day skiing and here’s a good example of someone in your own community who has excelled,” says Wood.
Fish spends half of the year in Park City, Utah, and skis and trains all over the world but he still loves coming back to Rhinelander.
“This place really has community and it has my heart,” says Fish. ” I grew up here skiing and coming back here after traveling the world? You can become a world caliber skier here.”