Cross-country skiing championships bring economic boost to Keweenaw

HOUGHTON — When there’s an influx of people in town, it usually means great things for local businesses, and this week, Houghton was the center of the ski racing universe as professional racers packed the Michigan Tech trails.

So what does it mean for the businesses in the Copper Country? Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Fahrner says local store owners are extra staffed and ready for more sales.

“Many of them are getting great customers out of the whole race and the whole area, right up the whole Keweenaw Peninsula, are really benefiting from this whole competition,” Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce executive director Cheryl Fahrner said.

That includes Down Wind Sports in downtown Houghton, which has been arguably the most popular destination for skiers this week, and they know the economic impact doesn’t end with just the local shops.

“Any time we have lots of folks in town, it helps everybody, everything from our little store here to restaurants and the hotels,” Down Wind Sports co-owner Arnie Ronis said. “It’s a big snowball and it works.”

The Alaskan Ski Team have enjoyed their stay in Houghton, preferring it over the high-scale cities they usually stay in.

“Houghton’s more of like a down-to-earth, cozy downtown type of place and it’s a lot more comfortable place for me to be in downtown,” Alexander Treinen of Alaskan Pacific University said. “We can walk around all day and just check out the local shops around town and it’s really cool. There’s a whole bunch of mom-and-pop shops versus something that we don’t get always when we go the venues, especially on the West Coast.”

The races wouldn’t be complete without our very own Michigan Tech Ski Team participating, and they understand the importance of hosting an event like this and how it impacts the local economy.

“It’s not only Houghton that’s getting a lot of business,” MTU skier Deedra Irwin said. “I know a couple of my friends from other teams went up to Calumet to go ski at the Swedetown Trails and they’re hanging out in the cafes up there.”

“It’s a wonderful time to showcase what we have,” MTU skier Alice Flanders said. “So having so many potential skiers seeing the U.P. and experiencing what we have to offer here, so many of us are so proud of what Houghton has to offer.”

The races will be wrapping up this weekend, and hopefully, those from out of town will be back soon.