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Movement to #savealaskaskiing Heats Up; Public Testimony Taken Monday

Last week, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen announced his intention to target skiing for elimination at both the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks in a pending waiver request submitted to the NCAA. This week, the Alaskan ski community is mobilizing to protest the proposal.

In an email widely circulated to “friends and members of our ski community,” supporters of the state’s ski programs advocated three ways to “take action now”:

  1. Write a concise email to the Board of Regents: ua-bor@alaska.edu.

  2. Sign the online petition “savealaskaskiing” here.

  3. Provide public testimony by calling 1-866-726-0757 on Monday October 31 4pm – 6pm (AK time). More info here.

The petition was begun by Fairbanks resident Brandy Harty last week. As of Monday morning Alaska time, it had over 2,100 signatures.

Regarding public testimony, the chair of the University of Alaska Board of Regents wrote in an editorial in Sunday’s Alaska Dispatch News that “The expansion of public testimony and community engagement through audio testimony brings more Alaskans into these important conversations. You help us shape and guide education in Alaska and improve the University of Alaska’s service to our state. … I look forward to hearing from you.”

The public testimony window runs from 4-6 p.m. Alaska time this afternoon. Alaska is four hours behind the East Coast. Written comments may be submitted by email at any time to ua-bor@alaska.edu.

In a separate email to FasterSkier, UAF Head Nordic Coach Nick Crawford provided contact information for the NCAA Division II Membership Committee that will be considering Johnsen’s waiver request, and encouraged supporters to write to the committee directly.

The committee chair is Kevin Schriver, Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Miss. Schriver’s email is kschriver [at] SBUniv.edu.

In a phone interview with FasterSkier Monday morning, Schriver was asked about the merits of Johnsen’s waiver proposal. “I’m not at liberty to [comment on] that just yet,” Schriver said. “I know the committee is meeting next week.”

Schriver appeared to suggest that the committee’s consideration of this proposal was less than a done deal, stating that the committee “will see if that will be a part of our agenda.” He said that the next scheduled committee meeting is Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, Nov. 8-9.

Emails for other members of the membership committee are: csnyder [at] setonhill.edu, stavaj [at] spu.edu, jeisen [at] umo.edu, gmac.commissioner [at] gmail.com, commissionerhogue [at] thepacwest.com, rthomas [at] umary.edu, margaret.poitevint [at] ung.edu, bhannum [at] hpu.edu, leslie.schuemann [at] heartlandsports.org, and ncullen [at] pittstate.edu.

Bates College Coach Flynn’s Words Live On After Passing at Age 83

Four years ago, the Bates nordic ski team filed into room 106 of the Bethel Inn Resort in Bethel, Maine. Most are clad in the grey and maroon Bates sweat-suitos, wanting to be as comfy as possible for the team meeting about to happen. A few sprawl on the double beds, some lounge in the floral patterned chairs. The Bates nordic ski program’s head coach, Becky Woods, starts the meeting off with a few words about race goals and course logistics for that weekend’s college ski carnival. Next the team captains share a few thoughts, offering advice about where to make up time and where it is potentially lost. Finally, there’s a pause in conversation, usually an indicator of the meeting’s conclusion, but no one gets up to leave. All heads turn to one corner of the room and anticipation fills the air. Before anyone can call out the question:…

Salmela Switches Sports to Coach Running at St. Scholastica

After leading the men’s and women’s cross-country ski teams for a decade, Chad Salmela, head coach of The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., announced Monday that he was leaving the nordic team to coach the college’s running programs. “Salmela is the only Nordic coach the university has ever known, coaching the men and women for the past 10 season,” the Duluth News Tribune reported. “Competing against scholarship schools, the Saints won the 2015 Central Collegiate Ski Association men’s and women’s championships and finished 15th as a team at the NCAA championships.” He will become head coach of the cross-country running team as well as an assistant track and field coach. In an email to FasterSkier and another U.S.-based nordic website, Salmela provided the following statement: “The past ten years are the most personally rewarding of my professional career.  The athletes, coaching staff, alumni, and supporters of the St. Scholastica ski program…

Osgood New Head Men’s Coach at Dartmouth

(Press release) HANOVER, N.H. – Director of Athletics and Recreation Harry Sheehy announced on Wednesday that Dartmouth graduate and former assistant Brayton Osgood has been named head coach of the men’s Nordic ski team. Osgood graduated cum laude from Dartmouth in 2003 with a degree in mathematics. While in Hanover, he was a four-year member of the ski team (1999-03), was captain of the cross country ski team as a senior and was twice named an NCAA All-American. “I’m so excited to return to Dartmouth and to continue the ski team’s long history of excellence,” Osgood said. “It’s a great privilege to be the next head coach of men’s Nordic, and for me, it’s a dream come true. I’m looking forward to working with the other ski team coaches to keep developing outstanding student-athletes, and achieving success on the trails.” After graduation, Osgood became a professional cross country ski racer (2003-11), competing in…

Patterson Resigns After 27 Seasons at Dartmouth

(Press release) HANOVER, N.H. — After 27 seasons as Dartmouth’s head coach of the men’s Nordic ski team, Ruff Patterson has stepped down from his post. A vaunted member of the skiing community, Patterson enjoyed a plethora of accomplishments and awards during his tenure in Hanover. Four times Patterson was chosen as the Eastern Intercollegiate Men’s Nordic Coach of the Year, plus was selected as the Ski New Hampshire Al Merrill Award winner for his outstanding contributions to cross country skiing in New Hampshire. He was hired at Dartmouth in 1989 to serve as the coach of the men’s Nordic team as well as the Director of Skiing, replacing the legendary John Morton. After 16 years, he turned over the director duties to a colleague and continued coaching for 11 more seasons. During his tenure, Patterson coached 14 skiers who earned All-America honors a total of 31 times (21 of those awards coming…

Big Weekend for Hegman, UVM at Final EISA Carnival in Middlebury

By Silke Hynes The EISA Carnival season came to a close this weekend with the Middlebury College Carnival in Ripton, Vt. Despite heavy rain late in the week, the Rikert Nordic Center managed to pull together a full 5-kilometer loop. Races were delayed from Friday to Saturday to give organizers time to repair rain damage to the race loop. A perennial challenge, the course winds its way up and down, containing two A-level climbs and challenging technical downhills. Conditions for the weekend created additional difficulty. As temperatures dropped, standing water froze creating a course dotted with ice patches. Despite the best efforts of organizers, some parts of the course remained icy. Saturday dawned clear and cold leading to hard, fast tracks for the first day of racing. The men’s 10 k skate was underway first, and the day belonged to the men of the University of Vermont (UVM). Jørgen Grav led…

CCSA Wraps Up with NCAA Regionals; Schimpl, Brown, Lee, & Fehrenbach Win

The CCSA/NCAA regional championships kicked off Friday at Al Quaal recreation park in Ishpeming, Michigan. The 5 and 10 kilometer individual start skate races saw abnormally warm temperatures, causing the snow to soften and deteriorate as the day went on. With three Northern Michigan University men (Ian Torchia,  Adam Martin, and Leo Hipp) and five women (Kristen Bourne, Felicia Gesior, Vivan Hett, Sarah Bezdicek, and Nicole Schnieder) away for World U23 and World Junior Championships in Romania, there was also new opportunity for podium spots over two exciting days of racing. The day began with the women’s 5 k skate race. As temperatures held steady well above freezing, Northern Michigan’s Sophie Schimpl stormed her way to first place and her first Regional title with a time of 13:50.7. Ten seconds back from Schimpl was Saint Scholastica’s Kelsey Dickinson in second place. Dickinson’s second place finish is also the best placing by a…

UVM Dominates as EISA Tries a New, Winner-Takes-All Two-Day Pursuit Format

EISA nordic racing resumed this past weekend with the Williams College Carnival in Lake Placid, NY. Traditionally held at Prospect Mountain, the carnival was forced to change venues due to lack of snow, a familiar situation this season. Thankfully, the Olympic Regional Development Authority welcomed the college circuit with open arms, putting together a solid 2.5-kilometer manmade race loop at their Olympic Ski Jump Complex. The course, which was used previously this season for SuperTour racing in late January, wound its way around and up the back side of the ski jump landing hill before descending quickly into the stadium below. Warm weather throughout the weekend created conditions that alternated between soft sugary snow and sheer ice, making for technical skiing all around. The race format for the weekend was somewhat unusual for a college carnival with both genders beginning the weekend with a 10 k skate, before following the next day with…

UVM Regains Upper Hand at Dartmouth Carnival; Individual Wins for Hegman, Phinney

Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association racing resumed this weekend with the 106th Dartmouth Winter Carnival at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. The SuperTour left the East after two combined SuperTour/carnival weekends, but things felt familiar anyway: the returned to Craftsbury for a second straight weekend after yet another venue change forced by poor snow conditions. So far the Eastern Collegiate season has been four carnivals contested at just two venues, with three of those carnivals being moved from their original sites. Craftsbury welcomed back the teams for the unique one-day carnival. With just one distance race per gender, the pressure was on for teams to put in good performances. The men’s 20 k and women’s 20 k classic mass starts were contested on a slightly different course than last weekend’s UVM Carnival. The hardworking Craftsbury crew were able to expand the race loop to 3.2 km, adding a challenging hill and more technical skiing. Once again…

Northern Michigan Wins CCSA Conference Title; Torchia & Markset Athletes of the Week

Beautiful morning for the Mayor’s XC Challenge! Good luck racers! #nofilter A photo posted by The Loppet Foundation (@loppetfoundation) on Feb 13, 2016 at 5:59am PST After a weekend off, the Central Collegiate Ski Association racing continued in the Twin Cities with the CCSA Conference Championships. Races were combined with the Mayors Challenge, an open and Junior National Qualifier competition. In the open races, the top college skiers shared the podium with elite seniors from the likes of CXC (Kyle Bratrud), SMS T2 (Anne Hart and Erika Flowers), and APU (Rosie Frankowski, David Norris, and Tyler Kornfield). Saturday featured men’s 15 k and women’s 10 k classic mass starts. Both men’s and women’s fields were faced with very cold conditions, causing the race start to be pushed back an hour in order to reach legal racing temperatures. The track at Theodore Wirth Park was hard and fast, creating exciting and fast paced racing all day. With…