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DULUTH—There was no singular moment of revelation, Duluth native Rick Rickert said, no parting of the clouds and a giant beam of light shining down from the heavens enlightening him, but just the natural progression of years spent on the basketball court, a magical journey he knew wouldn't last forever. "It was about time," he said.
MINNEAPOLIS—Duluth native Jamie Trachsel got a call from University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle last July. Trachsel, then softball coach at Iowa State, was recruiting at the Iowa state tournament. It was loud, so the call went to voicemail, but she called him back first chance she got. "And it just went from there," Trachsel said. Two days later she was on campus, and a couple days after that she was offered the Gophers head coaching job. It didn't take her long to accept.
MINNEAPOLIS—Nashwauk-Keewatin graduate John Anderson arrived on the University of Minnesota campus as a baseball walk-on in the fall of 1974. That was a glorious era for Gophers baseball, with future Major League Baseball hall-of-famers Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor playing around that time. Anderson knew his playing days were numbered. He thought about finding a small college where he could play hockey, but legendary Gophers baseball coach Dick Siebert convinced him otherwise.
DULUTH—Ben Popp was reached by NFL representatives last July inquiring if the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon had any interest in partnering up for the "Super Bowl Live" festival taking place Jan. 26-Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. Popp, executive director for the Birkie, was like, "Where do you sign us up?" "They wanted to showcase what happens in the Upper Midwest in the winter," he said. "We're not out surfing. We're not on the beach. We ski and snow tube and fat bike. So we started working on that concept."
BIWABIK, Minn. — Grand Rapids junior Garrett Beckrich confided in fellow ski racer Peter Moore that he wasn't very good as a classical skier, and he wasn't sure if he could hold off the mass of challengers starting behind him on Thursday at the Nordic state championships at Giants Ridge. Moore, a St. Paul Academy junior, told him, "Well, good luck." When you're as talented as Beckrich, you don't need luck.
BIWABIK, Minn. — Austin Danelski made history Wednesday afternoon at Giants Ridge, but his ski story began 75 miles to the south on the slopes of Spirit Mountain in Duluth. That's where Danelski grew up, strapping on the ski boots when he was only 3 or 4 years old. By seventh grade, he was on Hermantown's varsity, dreaming of one day becoming a state champion. On Wednesday, that dream became a reality. Danelski, a senior, captured the Minnesota Alpine skiing championship with a dominating second run on the Helsinki course, charging across the finish line.
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota native Nick Bauman purchased Super Bowl LII tickets shortly before the Jan. 14 "Minnesota Miracle" touchdown reception lifted the Vikings past the New Orleans Saints and into the NFC championship game. The euphoria was short lived, however, as the Philadelphia Eagles' convincing victory over the Vikings two weeks ago hit Bauman like a gut punch. Only one thought crossed his mind. "Sell 'em," Bauman said.
MINNEAPOLIS—The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the cursed NFL franchise they call Minnesota. The legend it's said came from 1969, when the Vikings won the NFL championship, only to lose the NFL Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy that went to the victor. The spirit of Ed Thorp, a former NFL referee, continues to haunt the Vikings, the most tortured franchise in the history of sport. Baloney. "There is no curse," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has said.
MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota Vikings coach Jerry Burns was at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 17, to watch his team. "Burnsie, you're looking good," a reporter said. "You should get your eyes examined," Burns said, cracking his Burgess Meredith-like grin. At 90 years old, there isn't too much Burns hasn't seen, especially from a Vikings' perspective, with hopes pumped up, only to be quickly deflated. He offered his sage take on the Vikings' 34-7 bludgeoning of the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. "I think the other team made it easier for them," Burns said.
MINNEAPOLIS Six years ago almost to the day, the Minnesota Duluth football team closed the regular season with a 31-19 victory over Minnesota-State Mankato. A crowd of 3,458 gathered at Malosky Stadium on a sunny and mild afternoon to watch as the defending national champion Bulldogs secured a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs for the fourth straight year.