Cross country champion and Twin Cities coach

Passing Date: 
Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Norman Gunnar Oakvik, a pioneer of cross-country skiing in the Twin Cities, died on February 3 in Minneapolis. He was 94. 

Born in Minneapolis to Norwegian immigrant parents, Norm was given a pair of wooden jumping skis at an early age by his father. He trained with the 10th Mountain Division troops during World War II but was not deployed due to injury. He was an alternate for the U.S. during the 1952 Winter Olympics in nordic combined. The following year, he won the 1953 North American cross-country championship.

In the 1960s, when he couldn’t buy the proper cross country ski equipment locally, he and a friend started importing it, selling gear from Norm’s living room. He co-founded the successful North Star Ski Touring Club in Minneapolis and worked tirelessly with the Minneapolis Park Board to develop trails—include a nordic system in Theodore Wirth Park that’s named for him. Through the touring club, the Minneapolis Ski Club and the Minnesota Youth Ski League, he coached and taught countless youth and adults. He skied into his 90s, using the classic style he had mastered as a child. 

He is survived by a cousin, Vivian Zagelow of Spokane, Washington, and a niece, Mary Frances Skufka of Eagan, Minnesota. (Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

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