Thursday, June 21, 2007
A wonderful day with the Anikins
I had a life changing experience yesterday. I was lucky and blessed enough to have a chance to interview Nikolai Anikan Sr. Nikolai is a gold medalist in the 4x10km nordic relay at the Cortina 1956 games. He was also a Bronze medalist at the 1960 Squaw Valley games in the 30km. After his life as a gifted athlete he then became the coach for the USSR in Nordic skiing from 1960 to 1989, the longest run as a head coach in nordic skiing and subsequently the most rewarded. This man coached such notables as Vladimir Smirnoff. Through an amazing story he ended up here in Duluth and has been here for some 15 years. His wife Antonina and son Nikolai jr live here as well. Unfortunately Nikolai sr was diagnosed with Colon cancer last week so the ski community is in shock and mourning over his illness. Before my interview I decided to look in one of my old thrift ski books to see if there were any info on Nikolai and low and behold here was a shot of him on his Gold Medal day. He had never seen this photo and it made him smile. 75 or so he could still tell you the snow conditions, air temp, all the people and the full play by play of the race.