Yuriy Gusev.jpg
Yuriy Gusev is director of the Madison Winter Festival and may be Madison's 'Mr. Winter.' Photo by Ken Singletary/State Journal

Yuriy Gusev is director of the Madison Winter Festival, to be held Feb. 19-21, and the Central Cross Country Ski Association, which is the regional governing body for cross country skiing. As such, he’s one of the biggest advocates for winter sports in the Madison area. Gusev, 30, moved to Madison from Russia in 2002 to study English.

What was it like to see snow fall this season?

It felt good. I mean, every time it snows it feels really good. People start talking about winter and being involved in outdoor activities.

If there’s one thing that cross country skiing requires, it’s grace. Where does grace come from?

I think it’s really all around development from a young age, and I think that’s why it’s so important to promote winter activities for families.... I think that’s where grace comes from, being all-around developed.

What’s the easiest winter outdoor activity?

Snowshoeing, because it’s very similar to walking. It’s a great introduction for kids and it can be done with families. And equipment is easy to get and you can do it in lots of places.

What kind of winter do you think we’ll have?

I think we’ll have an OK, average winter. That makes people excited. I think it puts everyone in a different mode than just brown grass.

How do you get over the winter blahs?

We need to educate people how to have fun in winter. I think they really need to try to get outside and bring their friends and try to enjoy it. ... If people don’t like winter, they’re 20 percent less happy during the year. So why would you want to be less happy?

What do you know about curling?

I don’t know much about curling. I know there’s a curling community. Probably at some point we should have curling as part of the Winter Festival.

Do we have any young Olympic hopefuls in the Madison area?

Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure there are. Black Hawk Ski Club is a great place to learn to ski jump, and we have some great young cross country skiers here too.

How often to you go skiing?

I ski about five times a week. If the season lasts 10 weeks, that’s about 700 kilometers.