A father, a daughter, a Kromer: it’s a little bit more than a Father’s Day gift.

When other kids had to go to Disney World, a young Amanda Dinkel got to go to the U.P.

She grew up in Gladwin, Michigan, smack in the middle of the lower peninsula, with two older brothers and parents who loved the outdoors. Her father, Larry, who spent his days as an engineer, spent his life as a hunter and fisherman, and he often brought his kids out onto Superior or Huron for hours on end.

“We loved the outdoors, too, but he’d drag us on that boat, and we thought it was torture,” said Amanda, a middle-school reading teacher in Caro, Michigan, just an hour or so from her hometown. “We’d tell him ‘No, don’t take us. We’re gonna die!’”

Long days on a boat can be tough for any kid, but after her college graduation, Amanda set a goal for herself: to learn something her dad really loves and to have him teach her.

“I’m a girly-girl, but I wanted to connect with my dad. Fishing and hunting was a way to do that.”

It was on one of those trips—a venture to Larry’s favorite bear-hunting hideaway near the Keweenaw—when Amanda and her dad really found something to bond them.

“We stopped in Brevort for some smoked fish, and they had a whole selection of Kromer caps,” added Amanda. “I squealed! I’d been following Stormy Kromer on Facebook for a couple years, but this was the first I’d seen them. I was so excited. I got myself a Petal Pusher, hopped back in the car, and my dad said ‘Well, what did you get?’

“Naturally, being from Michigan, being an outdoorsman, he knew everything about Stormy Kromer—the caps, the gear, the history. There isn’t always a lot to talk about on that eight-hour stretch of road, but we now had Stormy Kromer in common. He just kept saying they were so cool.”

It wasn’t too long after that when Amanda ordered her father an Original in charcoal wool.

“My father is pretty simple in his wants and needs, so he isn’t always easy to shop for. But now there’s no question what to get him,” added Amanda. “I want to thank the people at Stormy Kromer for giving me an opportunity to bond with my dad. Kromer is our connection, and it’s authentic, through and through.”

Authentic. Just like Amanda and her dad.

Do you have a great Kromer Dad story to share??

Ski Flyers to Soar Again at Copper Peak in 2014

By Pete Graves,
Published on 06/07/13

PARK CITY, UT–June 7, 2013-—It’s been twenty years since the last ski flying tournament at Upper Michigan’s famed Copper Peak took place—for many a season since there have been no cheering crowds, no daring flyers, no network television—but that’s about to change for this upcoming winter in a joint announcement made today by USA Ski Jumping (USASJ) and Copper Peak Ski Flying’s Bryan Sanders.

In a simultaneous announcement, Copper Peak’s Bryan Sanders and USASJ’s Athletic Director Alan Johnson said that dates have been set for an exhibition ski flying event at the mammoth ski flying hill in Ironwood, Michigan, with competitions to be held from February 28-March 2, 2014.

USASJ’s Alan Johnson noted that resurrecting the largest ski jump in North America was cause for my optimism and excitement saying…”to bring the thrill of ski flying to athletes and spectators back to the States will play a vital role in show casing the efforts that both USASJ and Copper Peak aspire to in creating greater visibility for the sport. This will also allow us to look at more creative, non-traditional ways to format and showcase “big hill” jumping.” Johnson also praised Copper Peak officials for their brilliant efforts saying…”the changes and development of the sport since Copper Peak closed are significant. The sport is much safer and controlled than 20 years ago, enabling skiers to jump much further and control their flight. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the old hill record will fall this winter. The question should be how many times, this is just a win/win concept for all involved.”

Copper Peak’s Bryan Sanders, who was a US Olympian in ski jumping at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France said that Copper Peak’s Board of Directors are thrilled about rolling out the welcome mat for this series of events. “It’s been a long time coming, we’ve had massive debt to retire since the last event in 1994, and the venue has seen huge improvements that are bringing this historic ski jump back to FIS standards. We’ve now got a positive revenue stream and have improved the chairlifts, the elevator, the drainage on the hill, and have recountoured the landing hill with over 2,000 tons of dirt. This summer we are installing our new snowmaking facilities and the take off has been lowered. It’s now a 175 meter hill size (HS) and I think it will be a very safe and really exciting hill, that’s coming back to life.”

In a collaborative partnership between USASJ and Copper Peak officials expect to host about a dozen ski jumpers in an exhibition event, which is expected to largely consist of athletes from the United States and Canada. Invitations will also be extended to foreign nations as well.

Copper Peak has become a year-round tourist mecca offering a host of activities including the newly designed mountain bike trail system and the “Copper Peak Adventure Ride” that includes a trip to the top of one of the world’s most majestic views—high atop the stunning ski jumping tower.

At long last, it looks like this majestic structure will see ski flying return this winter, and the Nordic world is awaiting a triumphant return engagement.

The first day of spring (theoretically)

According to my calendar, it’s the first day of spring.

According to this photo, it is not.

This photo was taken just minutes ago looking out one of the windows in our breakroom. That’s snow you see, built up and blocking most of the window.  To be fair, some of it is from drifts and some may be from the last time we shoveled the roof, but nevertheless, there is that much snow piled up on the side of our building.  On March 20.

Here’s a few more photos I snapped this afternoon:

When you live in an area called Big Snow Country and work for a company like Stormy Kromer, you end up having very mixed feelings about snow in March.

  • Positive:  People still need to buy warm winter clothing this late in the season, which is great for sales!
  • Negative:  At this point, we’re all kind of sick of wearing our warm winter clothing. Except our Kromers, of course (we’re never sick of them), but we would be okay with switching to a lighter version, such as the Waxed Cotton or Field Cap.  We’re definitely ready to put the Ranchers away for a few months.
  • Positive: We can still participate in fun, cold-weather activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
  • Negative:  We still have to participate in not-so-fun cold-weather activities such as shoveling and plowing.
  • Positive: When the sun shines and sparkles on the white snow, it’s like living in a snow globe.  It’s beautiful.
  • Negative:  When the sun does make it’s way out from behind the near-constant cloud cover, it’s shining on the March variety of snow – the dirty, muddy variety.

All kidding aside, we do love winter.  We wouldn’t be who we are without it.  And so, with the official first day of spring, at least theoretically we bid a fond farewell to our favorite season.

So, what do you think about this year’s lingering winter?

Living in Stormy Kromer Country

By Bob Jacquart, CEO

Bill and Jack Wagener with Bob Jacquart (on right)

A lot of people have trouble understanding how someone can live in a remote and cold place like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The truth is, I don’t know any other way to live.  As I have gotten older, I have found that more and more friends and colleagues tell me how lucky I am.

I remember a time when I was watching the Packer Game with some friends at the best dining spot in the area, The Bear Bar.  My 3 friends were all from Madison.  At a commercial break in the 4th quarter, one of them said to me, “And you get to stay here!” as he started thinking about his long drive back to Madison and away from the Northwoods.

Or the time when I met a new business contact – someone who seemed to have accomplished a lot more than I had.  I told him how proud he should be of what he achieved, and his response to me was, “No, Bob, you should be proud because you have figured out a way to live and work in this beautiful place.”

So I do live here with my wonderful family.  I have been married to Denise for 37 years and if you don’t already know, both of my daughters, Gina and KJ, work in the business.

After trying hard to be an Olympic marathoner and blowing out a knee, I found road biking.  Gina wasn’t too sure of the connection between my love for Stormy and road biking when I asked if I could design a Stormy Kromer bike jersey.  Created by our graphic designer Matt Schnell and built by Mt Borah, I had a few jerseys made for myself and some friends.  We now have about 16 folks biking the Northwoods in their jerseys.  (I even traded the former owner of Schwinn – a new friend – a Stormy Kromer jersey for some Schwinn gear.)

Road biking is amazing here as the roads near our cabin are flat and quiet.  I take a 20 mile ride after work and I see on average 4 cars.

Michael Wagener in Taos, New Mexico

In the winter my bike goes inside on a trainer and I am very content with riding that and also with cross-country skiing.  All of this quiet time gives me a chance to think about how I can grow as a leader and continue to make Stormy Kromer a major contribution to my family, the people who work for us, our dealers, our customers and my community.

Are there other fans out there that have combined their love of SK with another hobby?  We’d love to hear about it.