NNF Announces Trail to Gold Fellows for 2023/2024 World Cup Season


In a Friday press release, the National Nordic Foundation announced eight female coaches named as Trail to Gold Fellows for the upcoming World Cup season. The fellowship, funded in part by sales of the eponymous book, places women coaches on the World Cup throughout the season.

In addition to the extremely valid mentorship and professional opportunities that this fellowship provides, and I would hope that my ill-concealed feminism on this site makes clear that I personally think that providing professional opportunities for women is good on the merits, there is also a logistical advantage for teams that have more distaff coaches in tow: They qualify for a special women-only bib that provides the team with an additional course bib they would not otherwise receive. The U.S. has been a leader in the extra women’s bib initiative — see Matt Whitcomb’s quote below about the advantages accruing from not being a country that is “stuck in the past” with regard to gender roles.

[Read more: Annika Martell: From Williams to the World Cup, via the Trail to Gold Fellowship]

Here are the eight women selected in this year’s Trail to Gold program. Each coach will be on the World Cup for “up to a two week portion” of the season, per NNF.

  • Bernie Nelson (Auburn Ski Club)
  • Annika Martell (Williams College)
  • Liz Stephen (Park City Ski & Snowboard)
  • Erin Moening (Minneapolis Ski Club)
  • Julia Hayes (Bridger Ski Foundation)
  • Ruth Oppliger (Northern Michigan University)
  • Eliza Rorabaugh (APU Nordic Ski Center)
  • Callie Young (Dartmouth College)

Martell and Stephen also participated in the program last season, the fellowship’s inaugural year.

Ruth Oppliger, far left, with some of her athletes from Northern Michigan University (photo: courtesy Ruth Oppliger)

In an NNF press release, U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb said, “U.S. skiing experienced a boost last season on the World Cup resulting from the success of the inaugural Trail to Gold coaching grant. We are excited to develop this year-two class of coaches this season, and look forward to widening our advantage over the nations who are stuck in the past. It won’t be long before this initiative is replicated elsewhere, and we’re proud to have started it with the Trail to Gold.”

This year’s World Cup season starts in Ruka on November 24.

— Gavin Kentch

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