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Spotlight on the Berg Family History – Bob Robinson’s visit with Phil Berg

If you are an area skier and haven’t heard the Berg family name, you are probably new to the area or new to the sport.  

 The Berg family is very well known within the Alpine and Cross-Country Ski community for the recent 100 years and for good reasons. 

The family has offered scholarships to young community ski members for years and has been involved in ski advocacy in many leadership and support roles.

 I recently had a conversation with Phil Berg about area ski history.

Phil’s father Russell “Spike” Berg was a local ski visionary/supporter. 

His objective was for hundreds of people in the area to enjoy the sport of skiing.  

He was an active skier (from 1930’s through to his passing).  A tireless, enthusiastic promoter, he thought that getting kids on skis early and affordably would get them engaged into a lifetime sport. 

Russell’s parents (Hans and Laura) were   of Norwegian heritage.  It was actually Hans Berg (Phil’s Grandfather), that got the family started in skiing and helped fund the eventual Berg ski scholarships. 

 Just prior to World War II “Spike” joined the National Ski Patrol and then served in the elite 10th Mountain Division. In 1945, he survived a serious wound from battles with the Nazi’s in Italy. After the war Spike returned to Wausau and again, served with the National Ski Patrol (50’s) and was the Ski School Director at Rib Mountain (60’s). 

Phil tells stories about how his father encouraged many Spring breaking families to meet for lunch   in Aspen   and share the camaraderie of skiers.

The Bergs are synonymous with the following traits or quotes.

  • Any winter day is a good day to ski.

  • Watching a laughing child successfully complete a ski maneuver is the best reward, one can receive.

  • Skiing is one of the very few sports that can be enjoyed by all generations in a family and the more the merrier

  • Wausau is a great community for outdoor activities and skiing is a way to get outside and enjoy nature.

Phil loves to share Wausau ski stories (many of them are true).

    Phil ended our conversation with the question left in his mind from his grandfather and Fathers commitment to skiing. “How much investment and commitment is enough? If you can enrich people’s lives through skiing …  …..It couldn’t be better”. 

In fact, I plan to visit with him again in the near future to dive deeper into the commitment the Berg family has had within the Nordic community. 

Today, Spike is not with us, but his love of the sport is going strong by the scholarships and the people he transformed into skiers.  

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