Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ari "Employee of the Moment"

Full Name: Ari Clarke Mahonen
Age: 26 yr
GW Position: Sales/Technical Guy
Weight: 155lbs.
Height: 5’7”
Athletic Ability: Above average skier with a terrible aerobic capacity.

Where did you grow up? Hometown?

Duluth, MN

What childhood sports did you or didn’t you do?
Baseball kept me busy in the summer. Basketball was something to do with my friends but I soon realized that I was too short and wasn’t that good. I did Alpine ski racing through age 13 on the weekends. Back then Cross Country skiing was just a recreational thing that you did after downhill skiing in the morning. I did my first XC race at Snowflake in 6th grade where I placed third.

I never played soccer or hockey. I wanted to play hockey real bad but I’m glad that my parents didn’t let me. I never did the perfect hockey stop on skates.

What was your favorite place to ski in Duluth?
I spend the majority of my time at Snowflake. I worked the front desk for a few seasons and even groomed by last year in Duluth. Excellent trails. George Hovland has a great system up there.

But my favorite place to ski in Korkki a little bit out of Duluth. It is a classic only trail of old. Very narrow, only about 6 feet wide. Single Tracked. Iso Mäki. They also have a club for those who ski 50K and 100K on the trail in a single day.

Any sweet sports achievements or personal victories?
I’ve been a part of a section winning/state placing ski team, when I was on Duluth East’s team in high school. I have also coached several section and one state winning team at Hopkins.

I was happy to make it into the 1st wave of the classic Birkie for 2012. Pretty good for a new dad & ski coach.

Ari - Stage Left, WAY left

Do you have any goals for this upcoming season, either as a coach or athlete?
I would like to get a my classic Birkie time below 3:10 if I could. With coaching as always is getting a Boy’s & Girl’s team to state. Maybe even take home dual titles. You have to dream to do it.

College/Secondary Education/Degrees/Philosophies?
University of Minnesota. Still working on that one. I will return someday but right now I am enjoying Gear West & Coaching too much.

What are you studying?
I have an engineering background. Mechanical mostly. If I go back it would probably be to teach Science or math at a high school level. That way I could continue to coach if I wanted to.

Through your life experiences, how did you find your way to Gear West?
I was at a cross roads in my education when a position opened up at the store. I started in the back but moved into the front for the winter. There I stay. I grew up in a ski shop in Duluth. My dad worked at one for 25 years. I spent a lot of time around the shop just soaking it in.

How long have you been working at Gear West?
I started in April 2006. This year was my 5th winter at the store and will be my 6th summer.

What is the most interesting aspect of working at Gear West?
Helping the various levels of people that shop at the store. Some are very into skiing and others are very recreational. All seem to be equally enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm is key!

What drives you in this business?
The need to give great service and education so that the sport can continue to grow in the US. Also I’m a Gear Junkie and love to be around other Gear Junkies.

If you had to shamelessly promote 1(one) piece of gear junk, what would it be and why?
Casco Nordic Shields. They don’t fog, the protect your eyes from the cold & sun and are super lightweight. I didn’t freeze my retinas at the Birkie like many did.

Function meets fashion

What do you do at Gear West?
I manage and organize the hardgoods around the store, do some service work, and do sales of all things skiing. I do running shoes too but I don’t run nearly enough.

What products are you excited about this season?
Well seeing as summer is the next season. I really like all of the new minimal shoes. It was a niche in the market that needed to be filled. As for winter, I am excited for two of Atomics skis next season. The World Cup Hard Track Skate ski and the Skintec Classic Ski.

What do you do besides work at Gear West?
During the winter, much of my time is spent coaching at Hopkins. I just completed my 6th season as an assistant coach with them. It was very interesting seeing 7th graders become seniors.

Otherwise I spend as much time as I can with my wife Melanie. We were married two summers ago in Duluth. Then 2 days before the start of the High school season my son Juhani was born. He’s already been to his first Mora Vasaloppets, Birkie, and Junior Olympics. He seems to enjoy the experience. This makes me smile.

Home brewing is another favorite past time of mine. Caribou Slobber is currently fermenting in a mini-fridge in my living room. I am an aspiring golfer but usually I spend much of my time looking for my ball.

This is our favorite photo. Congratulations!

Question. Caribou Slobber! What is that? It sounds like an acquired taste...
It’s a play on Big Sky’s Moose drool. Just you’re standard American Brown Ale. On tap at Giant Ridge in the lodge.