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Former Olympic skier volunteers at Skinny Ski Festival

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 05 2014 05:42:42 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

At Bohart Ranch just outside of Bozeman on Sunday, hundreds gathered for the annual Skinny Ski Festival. Bozeman native and former Olympic skier Leif Zimmermann was a guest instructor at the festival.

"It is fun to have a more beginner intro to nordic skiing for the community," said Zimmermann.

At age 22, Zimmermann's success at nordic skiing led him to the biggest competition in sports, the Olympics.

"I was one of the younger athletes, but it was definitely something I had been working towards for a very long time," said Zimmermann.

Sunday he was home in Bozeman to pass on his skill and love for the sport.

We also spoke to Theresa Leland, the director of programs at Bohart Ranch.

"The purpose of this is to introduce the community to nordic skiing," said Leland.

Leland knows it takes years of practice to reach Zimmerman's skill level. But she wants people to know nordic skiing is something you can try at any age.

"We have some 4-year-olds here and in the past we have had 75 and 80-year-olds up here," said Leland.

Sunday morning, the thermometer was reading in the negatives which may have deterred a few from showing up, but not Bozeman resident Denise Wiedenheft.

"I alpine ski, and I have tried classic skiing, but I wanted to try skate skiing, so it is the first time," said Wiedenheft.

We spoke to Wiedenheft after her one hour lesson.

"It seems like a great way to spend the winter, it seems very aerobic and it warms you up on a cold day," said Wiedenheft.

For Zimmermann it is an added bonus when people like Denise Wiedenheft are eager to learn his sport. He tells us he is looking forward volunteering again next year.

Zimmerman also tells us he officially retired from racing last spring, but is looking forward to cheering on the U.S. Nordic Ski team as they go for the gold in Sochi. You can catch all of the Winter Olympic action on NBC, opening ceremonies are just 32 days away.