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Northern Michigan Sweep Men’s and Women’s Podiums in Rhinelander

(Press release)

Rhinelander, WI – Teams of CCSA took part in 5 and 10 kilometer classic races held on COVAC ski trails. Originally, this weekend was supposed to be dedicated to relays but due to previous changes, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay had to accommodate changes as host of this race.

Adam Martin, representing Northern Michigan, clocked in at 26:33.28 and set the fastest time for the men’s 10 k. Martin’s teammate Fredrik Schwencke, who similarly to Martin, decided to only double pole, took second and Lars Sonsterud rounded up the podium occupied by the Wildcats. Tom Bye and Tomi Mikkonen were the top men of Michigan Tech, taking fifth and sixth respectively. Breaking into the top 10 were also Kyle Marshall (8th) from UWGB and Ryan St. Clair skiing for Scholastica (9th).

Northern Michigan also managed to sweep the podium of the women’s 5 k. Coming in first was Vivian Hett with a time of 15:36.21 followed by Kristen Bourne (2nd) and Nicole Schneider (3rd). By the difference of a split second put Tech’s Lisa Koenig (6th) outside of the top five. The top woman for St. Scholastica was Kelsey Dickinson (8th) and Green Bay’s women were led by Bree Mucha finishing 11th.

Joe Haggenmiller commented on his team performance: “I thought the Huskies competed hard and skied well. Kudos to Lisa Koenig and Anna Kubek for their top 10s. Same goes out to Tom Bye and Tomi Mikkonen.”

Northern won the team competition with a combined 138 points. Michigan Tech took second with 115 points followed by Scholastica with 100 points, Green Bay with 91 and Saint Cloud with 33.

“I just want to say thank you to all the CCSA teams who competed today at this new venue. Green Bay and the Northwoods Nordic Ski Club is excited to debut this new venue and work to perfect the course and accommodations in anticipation of future NCAA events. The course and venue was well received and provided a variety of challenges to the athletes,” said Steven Teclaw, head coach of University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Results: Men | Women

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FasterSkier is seeking contributions (written, photography or videography) from college and regional race circuits in North America. Please email info@fasterskier.com if interested.

CCSA Distance Championships Recap

(Press release)

Bourne captures both days, Schwencke wins day 1 Ketterson takes Day 2

Houghton, MI – The first weekend of February brought Central Collegiate teams to Houghton, Mich., in order to find the CCSA distance champions. The hosting university, Michigan Tech and its grooming crew prepared outstanding trail conditions. Temperatures stayed around 20 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and small snow showers on both days. Men took on an individual start 10 k classic on Saturday and mass start 20 k skate Sunday while the distances for women were 5 and 15 kilometers respectively.

Saturday’s racing kicked off with the men’s 10 k classic. Northern Michigan University (NMU) swept the podium placing Fredrik Schwencke in first with a time of 28:22.0 a 40 second lead on second place Zak Ketterson and third place Sam Elfstrom. Finishing just outside the podium was Tech’s Tom Bye with Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert following in fifth, trailing only 1.1 second behind Bye. The top finishers from University of Wisconsin Green Bay and College of St. Olaf were Kyle Marshall (12th) and Mitchel Miller (24th) respectively.

The fastest time for the women’s 5 k classic, 17:03.0, was set by Kristen Bourne from NMU, outskiing her teammate Nicole Schneider (2nd) by only 0.5 seconds and Vivian Hett (3rd) by 14.7.

“It was great to see Kristen making the jump back to the top of the podium,” NMU Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “Kristen came down with mono the very first week of the semester this fall so she had to take many weeks off and then we laid out a plan to come back slowly, this took some discipline and patients on her part and the road back from mono isn’t easy to do but she stuck with our plan and it worked.”

Also to squeeze into top 10 was MTU’s Carolyn Lucca (8th) and Sonja Hedblom (9th) as well as Bree Mucha (10th) skiing for Green Bay. Scholastica’s top woman was Alison Ternes (13th), Maria Hauer from St. Cloud finished 16th and leading woman for St. Olaf was Bri Paulsen placing 19th.

“Our women skated well with a couple of top 20 performances from Bri Paulsen and Shelby Arendt.  The men continue to improve,” said St. Olaf Head Coach Kevin Brochman.

Sunday began with the women’s 15 k mass start with Bourne outsprinting Schneider in another tight finish with the time of 47:06.2 for first and 47:06.4 for second. Both of Tech’s athletes Lucca (8th) and Hedblom (9th) placed the same as the previous day and Kelsey Dickinson representing CSS rounded off the top ten in 10th place.  Sadie Peterson (12th) took the top spot for Green Bay’s women, Bri Paulsen (18th) for St. Olaf and Anna Lindell (27th) for St. Cloud.

“Sadie Peterson continues to ski strong and improve week to week during her first year in the CCSA,” noted Green Bay head coach Steven Teclaw.

Ketterson representing the Wildcats took the first collegiate spot for the men’s 20k skate. Ketterson was closely followed by Tech’s Gaspard Cuenot (2nd) and Ketterson’s NMU teammate Schwencke (3rd). Bye, skiing for the Huskies, was just 4.2 seconds short of the podium finish. Marshall (6th) from Green Bay recorded another top 10 performance as well as Hodgert (7th) representing Scholastica. The St. Olaf men were led by Tyler Radtke crossing the finish line in 24th.

“We had a great time racing in Houghton, trail conditions were outstanding and the race crew is the best,” Maria Stuber, head coach of Saint Scholastica, said. “The CSS team had some performances that we are really proud of and we are feeling better each week and looking forward to a new course in Rhinelander next weekend.”

In the women’s team point standings, Northern Michigan captured 138 points, Michigan Tech 114, Saint Scholastica 97, Green Bay 91, St. Olaf 64 and St. Cloud 54.

On the men’s side, NMU finished with 135 points, MTU scored 119, CSS 100, UWGB 90 and St. Olaf captured 66 points.

Joe Haggenmiller commented on Michigan Tech’s performance: “Tom Bye was pretty strong this weekend. Overall, I thought we competed pretty well.  NMU beat us pretty handily, you have to give them credit. We will take another shot at things next weekend.”

Results

FasterSkier is seeking contributions (written, photography or videography) from college and regional race circuits in North America. Please email info@fasterskier.com if interested.

CCSA Duluth Hilltop Invite Recap

Nicole Schneider (NMU) racing to the win in the women's 5 k freestyle on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Duluth Hilltop Invite in Duluth, Minn. (Photo: Jackie Schneider)

Nicole Schneider (NMU) racing to the win in the women’s 5 k freestyle on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Duluth Hilltop Invite in Duluth, Minn. (Photo: Jackie Schneider)

(Press release)

The weekend of Jan. 28-29 brought the teams of the CCSA to Duluth, Minn., for the Duluth Hilltop Invite hosted by the College of Saint Scholastica. Saturday’s race, 5 k and 10 k individual freestyle for women and men respectively, went as planned but the Sunday classic distance was changed to freestyle, due to the insufficient amount of snow. This change left only the first day as a CCSA/NCAA qualifier point race causing some teams to leave after the first race.

Starting the day off with the women’s 5 k, Nicole Schneider from Northern Michigan captured another freestyle victory with a time of 13:19 followed by her teammates Vivian Hett (2nd) and Sophie Schimpl (3rd). “I thought it was a good day of racing for our team. All of our athletes were out there giving it all they had on a fast icy course.” added NMU assistant coach Shane MacDowell.

Michigan Tech women were led by Carolyn Lucca finishing 11th, a few seconds ahead of her teammate Sonja Hedblom (14th). The fastest woman from the College of Saint Scholastica was Kelsey Dickinson (12th) followed by Green Bay’s Bree Mucha (13th) only three seconds behind. The top finisher from St. Olaf College was Bri Olsen (32nd).

Gaspard Cuenot (Michigan Tech) racing to the 10 k freestyle victory on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Duluth Hilltop Invite in Duluth, Minn. (Photo: Jackie Schneider)

Gaspard Cuenot (Michigan Tech) racing to the 10 k freestyle victory on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Duluth Hilltop Invite in Duluth, Minn. (Photo: Jackie Schneider)

Michigan Tech’s Gaspard Cuenot clocked in at 24:24 during the men’s 10 k freestyle which secured him a first spot on the podium. His performance, along with his teammates Tom Bye (4th) and Tomi Mikkonen (9th), helped MTU to score the most points among the men’s teams.

Second place went to Reitler Hodgert representing Saint Scholastica and coming in third was Lars Sonsterud from NMU. University of Wisconsin Green Bay was represented by Kyle Marshal coming in 12th and Tyler Radke from St. Olaf finished 38th.

Even with the Northern and Tech men’s teams leaving the night before, there was not a lack of competition on Sunday. Kyle Marshal from UWGB placed 2nd with a time of 24:54 in the men’s race, and he was the top CCSA skier that day. Chasing down Marshal were Jack Christianson (4th), Samuel Boardman (10th) and Gerrit Garberich (14th), all skiing for the College of St. Scholastica.  Tyler Radke from St. Olaf moved up to 21st from the previous day.

On the women’s side, the fastest CSSA skier was MTU’s Carolyn Lucca who took 3rd place with her time of 28 minutes flat. The closest collegiate skier to Luca was Sadie Paterson (7th) skiing for UWGB. In the field of St. Scholastica’s women, Nicole Gilman was their top finisher coming in 17th.

Results: Saturday | Sunday

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FasterSkier is seeking contributions (written, photography or videography) from college and regional race circuits in North America. Please email info@fasterskier.com if interested.

CCSA Distance Weekend at Birkie Trailhead

(CCSA press release)

This weekend of racing at the Birkie Trailhead near Cable, Wis., brought yet another challenging competition upon the skiers as well as coaches from CCSA and Midwest high schools.

Day 1 started with the men’s classic 10 k individual start. With temperatures around 36 degrees and raining, the course quickly deteriorated despite the best efforts of the organizers.

Adam Martin, representing Northern Michigan University, dominated the field with a winning time of 30:24.5 and a comfortable margin of 28 seconds on his teammate, Fredrik Schwencke, placing second. Another Wildcat placing within the top five was freshman, Zak Katterson (4th). The Saint Scholastica and Michigan Tech men were led by Ryan St. Clair (9th) and Gaspard Cuenot, rounding out the top ten respectively.

“I have to give credit to Gaspard for battling hard after making a poor choice to double pole.” said Michigan Tech’s coach Joe Haggenmiller.

The women’s 5 k was taken over by NMU placing eight skiers into the top ten. The fastest collegiate skier was NMU’s Vivian Hett (2nd) with the time 17:58.0 ahead of her teammates Nicole Schneider (3rd) and Sophie Schimpl (4th). The top MTU woman was Sonja Hedblom taking 12th place.

With all the NMU women and majority of men placing in the top 10, Sten Fjeldheim said: “I am very happy with the performance of our team. We took our focus away from making the teams for Junior and U23 World Championships which certainly reflected on our results.”

Day 2 kicked off with the men’s 20k freestyle mass start. MTU’s Gaspard Cuenot topped the field in an exciting final sprint against NMU’s Martin (2nd) and Schwencke (3rd). His winning time was 58:39.4. Ketterson (4th) and Leo Hipp (7th) were two other Wildcats finishing in the top along with Kyle Marshall (8th) from University of Wisconsin Green Bay and David Jaszczak (9th) from Michigan Tech.

The Wildcats were led by Nicole Schneider who completed the course in 49:26.1 followed by Schimpl (3rd) and Caroline Brisbois (4th). Just outside the top 10 was Elizabeth Evans (11th) from Saint Scholastica, Bree Mucha (13th) representing UWGB, and Carolyn Lucca (14th) from Michigan Tech.

“There were some highs and some lows and are hungry for improvement across the board.  I was impressed by our teams tenacity in the physical & technical challenges of skiing in warm rainy weather. We are really excited to bring the CCSA to Duluth next weekend!” said Scholastica’s head coach Maria Stuber.

Results: 

Day 1: Men’s 10 k classic | Women’s 5 k classic

Day 2: Men’s 20 k freestyle mass start | Women’s 15 k freestyle mass start

Salmela Switches Sports to Coach Running at St. Scholastica

Chad Salmela with a College of St. Scholastica athlete. The Saints' head nordic coach for the last 10 seasons of the program's existence, Salmela announced Monday he was stepping down to coach the cross-country running and track and field teams instead.

Chad Salmela with a College of St. Scholastica athlete. The Saints’ head nordic coach for the last 10 seasons of the program’s existence, Salmela announced Monday he was stepping down to coach the cross-country running and track and field teams instead.

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 are extended family to me.  The program feels like an appendage.  It is as much a part of me as it is perhaps synonymous.  It requires reflection and deliberate intention that one can step away from something they so love, care about, and are identified with.

For ten seasons I poured myself into all aspects of the job, from developing an effective training system, to coaching the athletes with great care, to race-day details, to recruiting for and marketing the team.  Ten years is a significant stretch of time, yet a relatively brief tenure as a collegiate ski coach if you look around the country for context.  The past ten years was an intense journey for me personally, to put and keep the Saints ski program on the competitive map in collegiate skiing.  I am proud of what this program has achieved.  

A decade, however, feels like it’s time for a change.  With the team on solid footing within the St. Scholastica community as well as that of NCAA and Nordic skiing in the United States, I feel the program needs an injection of fresh enthusiasm, excitement, and perspective in the head coaching position.  While my love for and interest in the program is still strong, I believe that a change in leadership will prove good in numerous ways.  

I simultaneously feel the need for a new challenge in coaching.  Few may know that I have worked as a high school running coach in the past, was the assistant cross country and track coach for my first few years at St. Scholastica, and more recently have consulted with success, several elite and master’s-elite marathon and distance runners.  Healthy, effective, progressive, injury-free distance running continues to interest me to great effect, as my recent side projects have caused me excitement to coaching runners.

The recent retirement of our successful, long time cross country running coach, Steve Pfingsten, opened an avenue right at St. Scholastica, to make a directional coaching career tack with which I have experience, success, and great inquiry, as well as an immense amount of motivation.  Coach Pfingsten has placed the cross country program in a great position in the NCAA Division III cross country realm, coaching our college’s only NCAA DIII national champion, and one conference championship after another for years on end.  He has left big shoes to fill.

After strategic discussions with our administration, I have been offered the head coaching job for cross country and assistant distant coaching job for track and field, and I have accepted.  I am inspired to continue and grow upon the great tradition of Coach Pfingsten, as well as work with head track and field coach, Kirk Nauman, to steer our distance running system towards a cohesive unit across competitive seasons and sports, opening even greater opportunities for our student athletes.

In my new position, I want to collaborate and work closely with the new head skiing coach to transition smoothly to continued long term success.  Our intention is to continue progress on the training system we’ve developed in conjunction with our exercise physiology department.  We see this as a unique strength as an institution offering endurance sports, and believe in the system’s success.  Our department aspires to develop a great amount of synergy in systematic development across the endurance sports we offer in intercollegiate athletics.  This will usher in some new and exciting initiatives across the endurance sports for our student athletes.  This coaching personnel shift feels to us to be an optimal development to that end.  

With this synergistic concept as a goal, our administration will work diligently in the coming weeks and months to find the right successor for the next head coach of the Saints ski team.  We are confident that the final choice will take the Saints ski team into a successful second decade.  

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Saints skiing under my tenure; who have helped build a ski culture that by all accounts is robust and deep.  I am excited about my own course as well as seeing the bright future for Saints skiing unfold under new leadership.”

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 Saints women at a Regional Championship, according to Saints coach Chad Salmela.

“This is the most memorable ski race I’ve ever had,” said Dickinson of her performance.  “Including biathlon.”

Dickinson raced two seasons internationally as a member of the junior and senior U.S. Biathlon Teams before returning to St. Scholastica this year.

Coming in a strong third place, another ten seconds down to Dickinson was Michigan Tech’s Andrea Lee. Right behind Lee by less than a second was Northern Michigan freshman Sophie McDonald in fourth.

The women of the University of Alaska Fairbanks were operating like a well-oiled machine today placing fifth, sixth and seventh with Nichole Bathe, Anne-Tine Markset and Sarissa Lammers all coming in with less than five seconds separating all three racers. This performance was good enough to place UAF in second on the day with 57 points behind Northern Michigan University’s 62 points.

Northern Michigan’s third scorer, Caroline Brisbois, wasn’t far off the women of UAF in eighth. Saint Scholastica’s Elizabeth Evans followed in ninth and Northern Michigan’s Vera Gruber rounded out the top ten.

The team podium is still up for grabs as all of the team scores are very close heading into tomorrow’s 15k classic mass start. Northern Michigan leads with 62 points, they are followed by UAF, 57 points and Saint Scholastica in third with 52 points and they are followed very closely by the women of Michigan Tech with 51 points.

On the men’s side of things, the temperatures remained well above freezing causing the conditions to soften as more and more racers lapped the course for the 2 lap, 10 k race.

Northern Michigan’s Jake Brown stomped his authority all over the men’s race to take his first ever regional title finishing with a time of 24:36.6, a full minute and four seconds ahead of Michigan Tech’s Kyle Hanson who took second on the day. In third was Reitler Hodgert of the College of Saint Scholastica, just 0.2 seconds behind Hanson.

“I’m super happy for both Jake and Sophie today,” said Northern Michigan Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “For both of them to take not only the individual regional title, but have it be their first time doing it is just amazing!”

The men of Northern Michigan followed in the footsteps of their women’s team by placing in the same exact places with fourth, Sam Elfstrom and eighth, Krystof Kopal, to give them the team lead with 62 points after day one.

Michigan Tech solidified their second place team score of 58 points with strong performance behind Hanson with Gaspard Cuenot in sixth and Didrik Fjeld Elset in ninth.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks took fifth (Max Donaldson), tenth (Alexander Eckert) and eleventh (Michael Fehrenbach) for the team to take third overall; skiing into seventh place was Matthew Nichols of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Day two of the CCSA/NCAA Regionals was host to another day of hard fast racing. After the warm temperatures of Saturday, the weather took a turn and produced colder temperatures overnight. This caused the courses to freeze solid, making it difficult to set a solid track at Al Quaal. The grooming crew did a great job with what they were given and the races went off without a hitch.

The men and women of the University of Alaska Fairbanks were out to make a statement, and did just that by winning the team events for the day. The men led it off with the 20k classic mass start. University of Alaska Fairbanks Fehrenbach took the win after just over an hour of racing, by out sprinting Northern Michigan’s Brown.

“It was great for Michael Fehrenbach grab his first win of the year in the last CCSA race,” said UAF coach Nick Crawford. “We knew he could do it all year and I’m glad it finally came together today.”

Racing was extremely close with the top six being separated by only 26 seconds. Michigan Tech’s Cuenot crossed the finish line in third, less than 4 seconds behind Brown. From there, UAF and Northern Michigan traded blows as UAF took fourth with Jan Cech, Northern countered in fifth with Elfstrom. Reitler Hodgert snuck into sixth, for Saint Scholastica’s solo men’s top ten. Applying the finishing blow to Northern Michigans run for today’s win was UAF’s Donaldson in seventh, beating out Northern’s Fredrik Schwenke by four seconds to register their third scorer and take the team win for the day with 63 points to Northerns 60.

Michigan Tech’s Kyle Hanson and Didrik Elset finished ninth and tenth to give their team 53 points and third in the team scores.

On the women’s side, Northern Michigan and UAF continued to trade haymakers for the top spot in the day’s team scores. The day was ruled by Michigan Tech’s Lee as she attacked on the last lap of the three-lap 15 k race to win by over 15 seconds. Once Lee was across the line the battle ensued with UAF’s Bathe and Markset delivering a one-two punch, finishing second and third. Northern Michigan responded with three big shots and put their three top girls in fourth, fifth and sixth with Brisbois, Schimpl and Lea Buenter. The assault of UAF proved to be too much today as their third scorer, Lammers crossed in seventh, giving her team 63 points and the win over Northern by 3.

“Our women had an outstanding day with 4 in the top 10 and two on the podium!” said coach Crawford. “It was really fun for Nichole and Anne-Tine to go 2-3 today and we’re excited to see how they do at NCAA’s.”

Dickinson of the College of Saint Scholastica led her team in 8th place. She was followed by another UAF skier, Ann-Cathrin Uhl in ninth and Saints teammate Evans in tenth.

In the overall team scores the men of Northern Michigan were able to weather the storm kept their lead from day one to take the overall Regional Championship with a total of 122 points. University of Alaska Fairbanks was second with 112 points, just narrowly beating out Michigan Tech with 111 points.

Northern Michigan’s women were able to hang on after the onslaught from the women of UAF to finish first for the weekend and taking the Regional Championship with 122 points. UAF followed closely with 120 points. Michigan Tech took third with 100 points, just beating out Saint Scholastica for the last podium spot by one point.

With both men and womens teams taking Regional Titles, Northern Michigan University was awarded the combined Regional Championship.

“I’m really proud of our team today,” said Northern Michigan coach Sten Fjeldheim. “We saw some great racing out there this weekend and everyone dug really deep to get this win. We had some awesome results from some of our athletes like Sam Elfstrom who had two of the best results of his career this weekend, and our two freshman Lea Buenter and Sophie McDonald who also posted season best results.”

As these races mark the end of the CCSA regular season, some athletes will be looking to the NCAA championships in Steamboat springs that start March 9th.

-Shane MacDowell

Results

Saturday: women / men

Sunday: women / men

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

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 FrankowskiDavid 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 the men’s racing leading off on the 3.3 k loop, there was a large group until the half way point when the lead pack was whittled down to only six racers. By the end of the race the college field had been spread out with two Northern Michigan skiers out front. Adam Martin took top honors with a time of 36:56.4. He was followed three seconds later by teammate Ian Torchia. With these two spots Northern Michigan sits in first place after day one with 85 points.

Michael Fehrenbach of the University of Alaska Fairbanks took third, only 18 seconds from the win. Fehrenbach’s efforts led his team to a second place finish on the day with 72 total points.

Of his teams efforts today, UAF Coach Nick Crawford said, “Michael again showed that he is one of the top classic skiers in the CCSA! He skied with the leaders most of the race and ended up as the third CCSA skier. Behind him we had Jan Cech and Nick Lovett who have not been in our top three most of the season but had great races today and finished in 11th and 13th and scored for the Nanooks.”

Michigan Tech’s Thomas Kendrick had a strong showing today placing fourth and accrued some crucial points for his team. Kendrick was followed by his teammates Kyle Hanson in 12th and Didrik Elset 15th.

“I thought all our guys skied really well today,” said MTU Coach Joe Haggenmiller. “We are really excited for Tom Kendrick, he’s a fifth year senior and had the best result of his collegiate career today, so we’re excited to see what he can do in his last three races on the CCSA calendar.”

On the women’s side, the racing was just as fast and exciting over the the laps that they completed. The race was taken out hard and led by three Northern Michigan University skiers, who would also end up taking the top three spots on the podium. The timers had to rely on the photo finish to declare a winner.

Once the photo was reviewed it was Vivian Hett who came out on top with teammate Nicole Schneider taking second by less than .1 of a second. Twelve seconds later, Felicia Gesior rounded out the top three giving Northern Michigan the team lead with 87 points.

“I’m really happy to see our girls really pushing each other,” said Northern Michigan Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “They’ve been working really hard all year and none of them wants to lose to the other.”

The women of the University of Alaska Fairbanks followed in the footsteps of their mens team and took second in the team scores with 78 points. Fairbanks was led by Nicole Bathe in fourth. Anne-Tine Markset was close behind in fifth and Sarissa Lammers took seventh.

“We were really impressed with all of our women,” said Fairbanks Coach Nick Crawford “Nichole Bathe did an especially good job moving up from her 22nd seed position in the mass start to finish 6th overall.”

The women of Saint Scholastica just beat out the women of Michigan Tech by one point for third in the team scores. The Saints were led by Kelsey Dickinson in 11th, Elizabeth Evans 14th and Allison Ternes 19th.

Beneath the Minneapolis skyline at Theodore Wirth Park, racing resumed on Sunday with 5 and 10 k skate competitions – and the Northern Michigan University men and women continued their winning ways.

In the women’s 5km event, UAF’s Markset stole the show; she posted a time of 14:55.7, nearly five seconds in front of the second collegiate finisher, Northern Michigan’s Gesior. The win is Markset’s first of the season as well as the first Nanook individual win of 2016.

“We’re really pleased to have Anne-Tine Markset grab the win today!” said Nanook head coach Nick Crawford of Sunday’s race. “We’ve known all season that we have a couple of athletes on both the men’s and women’s side capable of winning CCSA races if everything lines up right for them and Anne-Tine put it all together today. Anne-Tine seems to be getting better every week so we’re excited to see what she can do at the Regional Championships and the NCAA Championships.”

Junior Bathe finished fourth, just eight seconds off the winning pace. Lammers placed ninth, rounding out the scoring for the Nanook women.

Gesior again led the Northern Michigan women, as she has in each five-kilometer contest of 2016. The senior captain was followed by freshman teammate Sarah Bezdicek in third, who finished 7.5 seconds back of Markset. Fellow freshman Sophie McDonald was the third scorer for the Wildcats in fifth. Both Gesior and Bezdicek are part of a large Northern Michigan contingent heading to Romania this week to race in the World Junior and U23 Nordic Ski Championships later this month.

The Michigan Tech Huskies’ top finisher was Andrea Lee in sixth with a time of 15:15.3. Lee won the 10 km mass start at the Telemark Chase earlier this season and continues to post strong freestyle results. Lee’s teammates Lisa Koenig and Sonja Hedblom finished seventh and sixteenth, respectively.

MTU head coach Joe Haggenmiller said he was pleased with how his women’s squad bounced back from a rough day in the 10 km classic one day earlier.

“Lisa Koenig had a top result today – that was great to see from her!”

Haggenmiller was also impressed with Lee, who V2-skated the entirety of the course’s longest climb on the first lap. Said Haggenmiller of the tactic, “Most of the guys weren’t even doing that so I think it shows how strong she is.”

On the men’s side it was deja-vu all over again. In fact, the top three collegiate finishers and the margins between them were nearly identical to the last CCSA 10 km freestyle race, which took place in Houghton, MI. Northern’s Torchia again “torched” the field, winning in a time of 20:11.8. Teammate Martin was second, 28-seconds behind. NMU’s Jake Brown finished third, just 0.8 seconds after Martin. Talk about consistency: in Houghton Torchia finished exactly 28-seconds in front of Martin and Martin 0.7 ahead of Brown.

“I was pleased with our team this weekend- both men and women,” noted Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim. “Even with the cold it was a good weekend. I was glad that we got up to race-legal temperatures and were able to put on a good race, and a fair race.”

The Michigan Tech men had arguably their best CCSA performance of the year to-date. Huskies Gaspard CuenotElset, and Hanson took fourth, fifth, and seventh, respectively. Not only did each performance set or match each skier’s CCSA season-best, but Sunday marked the first time this season that Michigan Tech has placed three in the top ten.

“I was pretty happy with how the guys performed; I thought we were pretty competitive with NMU,” said Haggenmiller, “but you have to give the NMU guys credit, they’ve been racing fast. So when we’re up there with NMU it’s a good day for us. Skate races seem to be good for us. I don’t know why, but they do!”

A mere 17 seconds separated the top three Alaska Fairbanks skiers, who collectively finished third as a team on Sunday and in the overall championship race. Freshmen Seji Takagi and Max Donaldson led the Nanook men in 10th and 11th, while veteran teammate Alexander Eckert finished just behind in 12th.

Unsurprisingly given the individual results, Northern Michigan took the team win on the weekend. UAF finished as runner-up in the conference, while Michigan Tech earned the final spot on the team podium with their strong Sunday performance.

Torchia and Markset were named the CCSA Athletes of the Week.

The CCSA ski teams will begin postseason NCAA competition next weekend in Ishpeming, MI, at the NCAA Regional Championships. Women are scheduled to race 5 km freestyle interval start at 10 am on Saturday, February 20 and 15 km classical mass start at 12:30 pm on Sunday, February 21. Men will race 10 km freestyle at 12:30 pm on Saturday and 20 km classic at 10 am on Sunday.

-Shane MacDowell

Results 

Saturday: women open & college / men open & college

Sunday: women open & college / men open & college

Hett & Torchia Top Michigan Tech Mass Starts

The second day of racing at the Michigan Tech Invitational saw a lot of hard racing in both fields. Each team was faced by tricky conditions with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees. The morning started off with the women’s 15 kilometer classic mass start. With the warm conditions it seemed that each team had a different approach to making the skis kick, some using hardwax while others opted for klister or klister covered by hardwax.

Once the race was off the women of Northern Michigan University (NMU) asserted their dominance by getting to the front and controlling the pace. By doing so they were able to take the top three spots led by Vivian Hett with a time of 49:21.9. Hett skied to a commanding win after the second lap winning by almost 48 seconds over yesterday’s winner Felicia Gesior. Just under a minute back, there was a real battle for third going on between NMU’s Sophie Schimpl and Michigan Tech’s Andrea Lee. In the end Schimpl out-sprinted Lee by three tenths of a second to finish +1:48. With the top three spots the ladies of NMU solidified their win on the weekend in the team scores.

Led by the strong fourth-place performance by Lee, the women of Michigan Tech were able to fend off and extend their lead on Saint Scholastica. Lee was followed by Sonja Hedblom in ninth and Carolyn Lucca in 12th to accrue 41 points in the team scores. With taking second on the weekend coach Joe Haggenmiller was pleased with the solid effort his women put in.

“Yesterday I was happy with taking second place with both teams,” the Michigan Tech coach said. “I think that came down to the way our second and third place skiers were racing on both sides. They were skiing hard and battling it out. Today we saw more of the same for the women, I think we had an even better day today.”

Saint Scholasica’s women placed third on the day with 33 points. Kelsey Dickinson led the charge for the Saints in 11th place with teammates Elizabeth Evans in 13th and Chelsey Youngberg in 15th.

St. Olaf proved its mettle in the women’s race, with Nora Gilbertson placing 14th and Piper Bain 19th.

In the men’s 20 k mass start, the weather proved to be even trickier with the sun peeking out just before race time and changing the snow conditions. As each team was getting their racers skis ready they noticed this change and realized that most hard waxes were too slick while most klisters were still too sticky. With these conditions we saw many athletes choose their Zeros to try and get the best kick and glide combo possible.

At the start of the classic race, the NMU men followed the example of their women earlier in the day and jumped out to an early lead. Alumnus Kyle Bratrud was also in the pack, racing for CXC but not scoring in the college standings. He eventually beat out the current Wildcats at the line by 0.9 seconds in a sprint finish.

In the collegiate race, NMU ultimately took the top three positions while also placing the rest of their seven-man squad in the top 10. Then team was led by a strong effort from Ian Torchia who finished with a time of 55:54.3. Torchia was followed by teammates Adam Martin in second (+40.3) and Fredrik Schwencke (+52.3) in third.

The men of Saint Scholastica snatched the second place team spot from Michigan Tech today with 42 points, giving them second on the day as well as the weekend. The Saints were led by Reitler Hodgert in sixth, with Joe Dubay close behind in eighth and Chris Parr rounding out the top 10.

Michigan Tech ended up third after a harsh crash early on in the race that saw one of their top skiers, Gaspard Cuenot, drop form the race. In his absence Tech was led by Kyle Hanson in 12th, followed by Tomas Kendrick 13th and Seth Mares 15th.

UW Green Bay was nipping at the heels of Michigan Tech, only 3 points back with a total of 27. Their men fought hard with an 11th from Matthew Nichols, 20th Kyle Marshal and 24th Jacob Ajax.

This week’s CCSA Female Athlete of the week is Vivian Hett of Northern Michigan University. Vivian raced hard this weekend with a 2nd place finish in Saturday’s 5 kilometer Freestyle race. Hett followed up her 2nd place finish with a win by a resounding 48 seconds in the 15 kilometer classic mass start. Hett will be representing her country later this year in Romania at the World Junior Championships.

This week’s CCSA Male Athlete of the week is Ian Torchia. Torchia was in top form this weekend taking wins in both races. Torchia skied to 28 second win in Saturday’s 10 kilometer skate race, and a 40 second wins over the field in Sundays 20 kilometer classic mass start. He will also be join his teammate Vivian Hett in Romania to represent the United States at the World Junior Championships in February.

The CCSA racing continues in two weeks at Theodore Worth Park in Minneapolis, MN. As the last few races approach, each athlete and team will be in the hunt for crucial NCAA qualifying points.

Results

Women: opencollegiate only

Men: opencollegiate only

-Shane MacDowell

NMU Sweeps Both Podiums at Day 1 of Michigan Tech Invite; Torchia & Gesior Win

The Michigan Tech Invitational kicked off Saturday under clear skies and above-average temperatures. The day started off with the men’s individual start 10 k skate. Temperatures were gradually rising above freezing just before the start, causing each team to look for the best wax and structure possible to fight off the increasing moisture in the snow.

Ian Torchia of Northern Michigan University (NMU) took top honors in the men’s race, finishing in a time of 25:50. He was followed 28 seconds later by two of his teammates, Adam Martin (+28.1) and Jake Brown (+29.1). With these three places NMU took an early lead in the team scores with 51 points.

(The races also featured non-collegiate skiers, with CXC’s Kyle Bratrud finishing second after Torchia, 11.2 seconds back. Senior racers were excluded from college results, however.)

Gaspard Cuenot led his Michigan Tech team to second place in the team scores with a fourth place finish (+45.2). He was followed by teammates Kyle Hanson in eighth and Daniel Wood 16th to stay just ahead of Saint Scholastica with 37 points.

Saint Scholastica’s men are nipping at the heels of MTU with 35 points, led by a strong performance from Reitler Hodgert in ninth. Hodgert was followed closely by his teammates Ryan St. Clair in 11th and Chris Parr 13th.

Of his mens team effort, Coach Salmela was pleased with the progress from last week.

“We’re moving in the right direction in freestyle,” Salmela said. “We got pummeled in freestyle last weekend and we tightened up our team effort against Tech, but still came up a couple points shy. Regardless, it’s the right direction.”

For the women’s race the temperatures had climbed up into the low 40’s with the sun shining down causing the snow to become glazed with moisture.

The CCSA women’s field was dominated by the skiers of NMU, taking the top five positions. NMU was led by Felicia Gesior stamping her authority all over the 5 k course, and winning by 17.5 seconds. Gesior was followed by her two teammates Vivian Hett and Sophie Schimple (+26.0). With these three spots the NMU women followed in the footsteps of their male counterparts and took the lead in the team scores with 51 points.

With both teams taking the lead after the first day, coach Sten Fjeldheim was very pleased with how his athletes seemed to be pushing one another.

“Our team is in a really good place right now,” Fjeldheim said. “They are working off one another to get faster each week, and we are seeing better and better racing out of them as the season goes on.”

As with the men’s race, a CXC senior athlete skied onto the overall podium: Alice Flanders, who edged in between Hett and Schimpl to finish third, +20.3. Sharmila Ahmed, a Saint Scholastica assistant coach, also skied into the top ten (+52.5).

Back in the collegiate race, the Michigan Tech women held strong to finish second on the day being led by Andrea Lee in seventh (+43.5). Her two teammates, Sonja Hedblom and Carolyn Lucca followed in tenth and 11th to give MTU 39 points.

The women of Saint Scholastica will be looking to reel in Michigan Tech tomorrow after falling by 3 points. The Saints were led by Kelsey Dickinson in sixth place (+40.5). After an early crash, Elizabeth Evans battled back hard to a 13th place finish. She was followed just over 20 seconds later by teammate Allison Ternes to finish 15th, giving them 36 points and 3rd on the day.

Of his womens effort, coach Salmela said,“I was happy with what I saw in effort and race form today, it hurts to lose to rival Michigan Tech, but Ellie and Kelsey looked great and were skiing competitively and Allison looked the strongest in skating yet this year.”

Outside the top three teams Saint Cloud States Coach Jeremy Frost was pleased with the improvement he saw in his team compared to last weekend. Maria Hauer fought her way into the top 20, finishing 19th (+2:19.6).

“It was great to see our skiers get off the start line and through the flat first kilometer a little quicker this weekend” said Frost. “This should give us more confidence leading into the last couple race weekends of the season.”

The racing action continues Sunday with the women’s 15 k classic mass start and men’s 20k classic mass start.

Results 

Women: overallcollegiate only

Men: overallcollegiate only

-Shane MacDowell.

Martin Sweeps at Telemark Chase; Gesior, Lee Take Women’s Wins

(Note: We are looking for contributors to write short reports and/or contribute photos on this season’s action on each of the collegiate circuits. If you are interested, please contact info@fasterskier.com.)

The Central Collegiate Ski Association kicked off January racing with the Telemark Chase this weekend, a two-day series held at the Telemark Resort trails in Cable, Wisconsin. There was fast, hard racing by over 500 competitors, both collegiate and junior athletes alike.

Day 1

The weekend started off with a 5- and 10-kilometer classic individual start. With solid tracks and mild temperatures the course was primed for some great racing.

Leading off with the men’s race the Northern Michigan Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the team scoring by taking the top three slots on the result sheet. The Wildcats were led by Adam Martin who completed the 10 k course in 26:14.7. Martin was followed closely by his two teammates Ian Torchia (26:16.7) and Fredrik Schwenke (26:50.2).

With three of his skiers taking the top three spots, Northern Michigan Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim was most excited about his athletes that were just outside of the winning pace.

“I am most excited about Sam Elfstrom (5th) for having a breakthrough performance today, and Freshman Leo Hipp (11th) for being the second junior in the race,” said Fjeldheim. “It’s a really good atmosphere with our men’s team right now, it seems like they are having alot fun pushing one another to their limits.”

Just off the podium in fourth was University of Alaska Fairbanks skier Michael Fahrenbach. The Saints of Saint Scholastica placed two men in the top ten with Chris Parr (sixth) and Reitler Hodgert (eighth). Michigan Techs Gaspart Cuenot ended up splitting the Saints in seventh with Northern Michigan’s Jake Brown in ninth and UW Green Bay’s Mathew Nichols rounding out the top 10.

With a stellar performance from his top three men, Saint Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela was very happy with his mens team sitting in second place in the team scores.

“Anytime you’re in the top three in the conference as a team, that’s a good day for us,” he said. “Beating Alaska and Tech by more than a point or two is more than expected even on a good day.”

For the womens 5 k, Northern Michigan added to their team lead with Felicia Gesior taking top honors by 2.8 seconds over University of Alaska Fairbanks racer Anne-Tine Markset. Markset was followed by another NMU skier Sophie Schimpl to finish off the top three.

That lead didn’t come without a solid battle in the women’s race between Northern Michigan and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Just missing out on third place by one second, UAF’s Nicole Bathe took fourth with NMU’s Vivian Hett right behind in fifth. UAF’s third scorer Ann-Cathrin Uhl was only ten seconds down to Hett in sixth. Saint Scholastica’s Kelsey Dickinson broke up the NMU, UAF run by squeaking into seventh, 0.3 seconds ahead of another NMU skier, Nicole Schneider. Michigan Tech placed their second skier in the top ten of the day with Andrea Lee taking ninth and another UAF skier Sarissa Lammers rounding out the top ten.

With two of his skiers breaking into the top ten, MTU Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller waslooking for a little more in Sunday’s 10 and 15 k mass start skate races.

“I think as a team we were a little flat but I think everyone was battling hard today,” he said on Saturday. “We are just going to have to go out there tomorrow and build on our efforts from today.”

Day 2

The second day of the Telemark Chase saw another great day of racing. After yesterday’s classic races the men and women of the CCSA were faced with 10 and 15 k mass start skate races. With conditions continuing to be solid and temperatures hovering in the mid-twenties, it made for some very fast conditions all day.

The day started off at 10am with the start of the womens 10 k. Right out of the start the NMU Wildcats flexed their muscle by having seven of their skiers in the top 10 throughout the first lap. It was on the second lap that the race heated up the NMU redshirt skier Kristen Bourne attacking on the final big climb of the day. As she crested the hill she had a 10 second gap leading into the downhill. It was over the next 2 kilometers that Michigan Tech’s Andrea Lee hunted down Bourne over the final rolling hills. Passing Bourne in the final climbs Lee was able to hang on for first by 0.1 seconds.

“It was really exciting to see her ski in that NMU train going up the last big climb,” a satisfied Haggenmiller said of Lee’s performance. “I could tell she was pretty relaxed and knew what she had to do. It’s very exciting to see how savvy she is as a racer and I look forward to seeing more of that in the future.”

Five seconds back was UAF’s Markset turning in another stellar effort to finish third overall and second for the CCSA conference. Taking third for the collegiate race was Gesior. Northern also took fourth through ninth in the collegiate rankings with UAF’s Bathe rounding out the top 1o. All of the racing was very close today in the womens race with 1-10 being separated by less than a minute.

UAF Head Coach Nick Crawford was very pleased with his team’s effort.

“Anne-Tine Markset proved that she is one of the top women in the CCSA again today following up on her second place finish yesterday with a third place overall,” he said. “Nichole Bathe and Sarissa Lammers also had good races doing a good job moving up through the field in the second lap and having strong finishes.”

On the men’s side, Northern Michigan once again showed their dominance and depth by taking all three steps on the podium with Martin taking his second win of the weekend followed closely by Torchia and Jake Brown. Michigan Tech came back today and capitalized on their coaches comments from yesterday by building on their efforts of the previous day and placing 2nd in the men’s team scores while being led by Gaspard Cuenot in fourth. Cuenot was followed by Schwencke. Max Donaldson led UAF’s men with a sixth-place finish. Northern’s Sam Elfstrom took seventh with MTU’s second skier Kyle Hanson right behind in eighth.

Coach Haggenmiller was excited about Hanson’s efforts.

“[He] was the one that was driving the second chase group, and I think his result was a big part the men’s team placing second today,” Haggenmiller said.

Saint Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert had a stellar finish in ninth.

“Reitler loves classic races,” Salmela said. “So coming off an eighth-place in his favorite event, the 10 k Classic, a 15 kilometer freestyle mass start is the antithesis of his skiing essence. But a gritty performance netted him nearly the same result.”

UW Green Bay’s Matthew Nichols finished off the top 10.

The CCSA skiing action continues next weekend in Houghton, Mich., with host Michigan Tech University. Each athlete will continue their hunt for crucial points that will help get them to the NCAA Championships in Steamboat, Colo., in early March.

Saturday results

Sunday results

— Shane MacDowell

NCAA Central Regionals: Michigan Tech’s Axelsson, NMU’s Schwencke Win Classic Distance Races

(CCSA press release)

Michigan Tech’s Ulrika Axelsson and Northern Michigan’s Fredrik Schwencke won the final event of the NCAA Central Regional Championships, held at Al Quaal Park in Ishpeming, Michigan.

The women’s 15-kilometer classic mass start race was led out of the gates by Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin. As Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller explained the race, “after the first climb Deedra stretched the field out and got a gap. After that she skied relaxed, and Ulrika [Axelsson] bridged the gap to Deedra near the end of the first lap along with Felicia [Gesior].”

By the end of the first lap at 5 kilometers Irwin and Axelsson were leading the race with Gesior of NMU skiing along with them. The rest of the women’s field trailed the leading three by more than 10 seconds. Chasing the leaders was a group led by Alaska Fairbanks duo Ann-Cathrin Uhl and Nichole Bathe.

With Irwin and Axelsson in control of the race, the two Michigan Tech skiers continued to keep the pace high throughout the race. “Both were just trying to go as fast as they could to put a gap on the field,” said Haggenmiller. “They were not really battling each other. Deedra put in a hard effort to get Ulrika from the bad side of the bubble to the good side,” Haggenmiller said in reference to Axelsson’s bid for qualifying for NCAA Championships.

With Axelsson’s campaign resting on a top finish, the two Michigan Tech women increased the pace on the final lap and managed to gain some distance on Gesior.

“They were able to claw out a 5-10 second gap on Felicia on the last lap,” said Haggenmiller.

Axelsson took the victory at the finish line, with Irwin trailing just .8 seconds behind. Gesior was third for NMU, 13.5 seconds behind Axelsson.

Bathe finished fourth for UAF, a result that UAF Interim Head Coach Christina Turman praised. “She raced really strong, it was a good note to end on. She proved that she can be right in there,” said Turman. “She wanted the team to move from 4th place to 3rd, and we did that with her result.”

Kristen Bourne took 5th for NMU, while Ann-Cathrin Uhl took 6th for UAF. “Ann maybe had the race of the day—to break into the top ten in that fashion was pretty impressive.”

Jordyn Ross took 7th for NMU, and St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi finished 8th. St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela applauded Kirvesniemi’s tactical racing on a difficult day for the Saints. “Anita skied really smart,” said Salmela. “She had a hard time keeping pace with the leaders so she bided her time.” Kirveseniemi was able to work her way from 12th position up through the field in the latter stages of the race to finish in 8th.

In 9th from UAF was Ann-Tine Markset, and in 10th was NMU’s Vivian Hett. Markset’s result edged Axelsson out of a qualifying position for NCAA’s despite her victory. “It’s a bittersweat day for her,” said Haggenmiller. “She really represented us well. It was an exciting day for the women. Full credit to Anne-Tine for skiing the race she needed to.”

Northern Michigan won the women’s team title for the Central Regionals, with Michigan Tech in second, and Alaska Fairbanks third. St. Scholastica took fourth, Green Bay was 5th, and St. Olaf 6th. Gustavus and St. Cloud State tied for 7th.

The men’s 20 k mass start classic race was led initially by Isaac Lammers of Alaska Fairbanks. At the first 5 kilometer loop Lammers enjoyed a 3 second gap to the rest of the men’s field in the early stages of the race with NMU’s Adam Martin in close pursuit, followed by Ian Torchia of NMU and Jonas Loeffler of UAF.

Lammers maintained the lead of the race through the 10 kilometer mark, with Martin skiing right behind him and Torchia and Erik Soderman for NMU all within a second of each other.

Torchia, an NMU freshman, led the race at 15 kilometers, with Lammers falling back as the pace increased in the second half of the race. Behind Torchia were his teammates Soderman, Martin, and Schwencke. UAF’s Logan Hanneman and Loeffler were also among the leading six, as the front pack broke away from the rest of the men’s field.

Leading the chasing group at the 15 kilometer mark was Kenneth Brewer of UAF, but the leaders were just out of reach, some 12 seconds ahead.

In the closing stretch it was Schwencke who had the finishing power to win the day, winning with a time of 51:30. Hanneman took second, 5.3 seconds behind Schwencke.

Turman praised Hanneman’s racing strategy, saying, “Logan skied a really smart, tactical race, he never led, and he skied between 4th and 7th the whole race. As the race broke apart he moved up. Adam [Martin] had put a little gap on him near the end, but on the last climb Logan surged ahead to go on and take second.”

In third for NMU was Martin, 1.1 seconds behind Hanneman. In fourth was Erik Soderman, 2 seconds behind Martin, while Ian Torchia was 5th for NMU.

Loeffler took 6th for UAF. “Jonas was solid,” said Turman, “and he secured his spot.” His teammates Lammers and Brewer finished 7th and 8th, respectively, a result that Turman was thrilled with. “Today was just phenomenal,” said Turman. “Basically the entire team skied to their potential. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys, they raced out of their minds.”

In 9th place for Michigan Tech was Haakon Hjelstuen. Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller said that Hjelstuen was, “really running on fumes today after his effort yesterday. Freddy [Schwencke] made a move, and Haakon tried to respond, but he took a fall. He was never able to bridge back up after that. It was still a good day though.”

Alexander Eckert of UAF rounded out the top-10 men in the classic race. Eckert was the 5th man from UAF to make the top ten in Sunday’s race.

Northern Michigan took the top prize for the men’s team competition at Central Regionals. Alaska Fairbanks finished second, and Michigan Tech was third. St. Scholastica was fourth, St. Olaf 5th, and Green Bay 6th.

Full results can be found at www.superiortiming.com

— Pasha Kahn

NCAA Central Regionals: NMU’s Soderman, Michigan Tech’s Flanders win Skate Races

(CCSA press release)

Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman and Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders were the victors in Saturday’s freestyle race at the NCCA Central Regional Championships, held at Al Quaal Park in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Soderman, the NMU senior from Njurunda, Sweden, had a terrific day at Regionals, winning the men’s 10 kilometer race by over 33 seconds with a time of 23:24. “It was a great day for Erik,” said NMU Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “He really lit it up on the second loop.”

“He skied out a little conservatively,” said Fjeldheim explaining Soderman’s racing strategy. “That’s kind of how he does it. I think he was only 6 seconds back at 3 k. Then he increases the pace gradually.”

Taking second behind Soderman was Alaska Fairbanks’ Logan Hanneman, with a time 23:57.3. “It was a solid day for Logan,” said UAF Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “It was pretty surprising to see him ski so well getting right off the plane.”

Hanneman joined the UAF team in Marquette late on Thursday said Turman, opting to stay an extra couple of days in Fairbanks to catch up on missed school from his time away competing at the U23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Taking third was Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen. “Haakon was pretty fortunate to have Erik Soderman starting behind him,” said MTU Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. When Soderman caught Hjelstuen a few kilometers into the race the Norwegian exchange student stayed with his pace. “He skied with Erik for about 5 k and lost six seconds on him [towards the end of the race].”

“He really put himself in the pain cave to ski with him,” Haggenmiller said. “He couldn’t remember the last 3 k.”

Taking fourth for St. Olaf’s was Jake Brown. Tom Jorgenson, Head Coach of St. Olaf said that Brown skied “a good race, a consistent race. I think it was his best result of the season so far.” Jorgenson added, “it’s coming in at the right part of the season, the right time.”

In 5th place was Fredrik Schwencke of NMU, “a solid day for Freddy,” said Fjeldheim. Finishing in 6th was St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer. “I couldn’t really tell that Paul felt like it wasn’t going great, because I thought he looked great,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “Sometimes … late in the season, when athletes are hanging on to their fitness, they might not feel awesome but they can still perform well. I think that’s what Paul’s experience was. It was arguably one of his best, if not best performance this year compared to the field.”

Taking 7th for NMU was Ian Torchia. “He’s an ambitious freshman,” said Fjeldheim. “He just got back from Kazakhstan and he’s been under the weather this week, he hasn’t been doing much training. He was so passionate about racing today, so I let him.”

Eighth went to Adam Martin of NMU, while 9th and 10th went to UAF’s Nick Lovett and Kenneth Brewer, respectively. “It was a huge day for those guys,” said Turman. It’s really exciting to see some other guys racing fast and stepping up.”

The women’s 5 k freestyle race was won by Flanders with a time of 15:09. It marked Flanders’ third-consecutive distance freestyle victory in the CCSA. “It’s a strong result,” said Haggenmiller. “Anytime you’re winning it’s a good day. We’re pretty proud of her.”

Taking second place was NMU’s Jordyn Ross. Ross had trailed Flanders by about 8 seconds halfway through the race before closing the time gap to just over three seconds at the finish line. “Jordyn was only 3 seconds out,” Fjeldheim said, “and she knows exactly how she lost that time so that’s okay.” Haggenmiller noted that, “Alice and Jordyn sort of have an ongoing battle on the race course.”

In third was St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, while fourth went to NMU’s Felicia Gesior. In 5th was Anita Kirvesniemi of St. Scholastica. “It was the best single day in our program at regionals ever,” said Salmela. “We’ve never put two in the top five at regionals, and that’s just awesome. The whole team skied great and while we were second last year as well, we’ve never been closer to winning than today.”

“This goes such a long way to take the pressure off both Sharmila and Anita tomorrow because they will probably qualify [for the NCAA Championships] even if they didn’t race tomorrow. They obviously will race, and race the best they can, but it’s nice to not have to feel a lot riding on the race. They can just go out there and let it happen.”

In 6th and 7th place were NMU’s Sophie Schimpl and Kristen Bourne, respectively. In 8th was UAF’s Anne-Tine Markset. “Another solid race for her,” said Turman. “She’s becoming quite consistent. She was just a few seconds off of 6th place, so another close race there.”

In 9th was Deedra Irwin of MTU. “She’s starting to recover from her transatlantic travel,” said Haggenmiller of Irwin’s recent return from the U-23 World Championships in Kazakhstan. “It’s the best she’s felt since she’s been back,” he added. “She’s getting better and better.”

Taking 10th was NMU’s Vivian Hett. “The women did great,” said Fjeldheim. “I was happy with the results for the men and women on day one of regionals.”

Full results can be found at www.superiortiming.com

— Pasha Kahn

Flanders, Soderman Win Skate Races at CCSA Champs; St. Scholastica Takes Team Titles

Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders and Northern Michigan University’s Erik Soderman won the individual start freestyle race at the CCSA Distance Championships on Saturday, February 14th at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Cold temperatures delayed the start by an hour until the air warmed to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, the minimum temperature allowed for competitions.

Flanders proved that she remains the woman to beat in freestyle at Wirth Park, winning the 10 kilometer event with a time of 13:53.2. Flanders, a senior at Michigan Tech grew up in Crystal, Minnesota skiing the trails at Wirth Park.

“No doubt about it, she feels good skating on that course when it’s compact, straight man-made snow,” said Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. “This one’s kind of in our wheelhouse.”

Taking second place, 11.1 seconds behind the pace of Flanders was Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross. In third place was St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, taking her first individual podium in the CCSA this season with a sharp performance at Wirth.

“She had a rough day in the classic – athletes have those,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “She bounced back from that great, I was really impressed with her focus.” Salmela added, “A podium is always nice, especially at a championship.”

In fourth was Marit Sonnesyn of Gustavus, enjoying another great day of racing at Wirth. “It was her fourth straight race in the top 5 at NCAA qualifiers,” said Gustavus Head Coach Jed Friedrich. “I thought she’d be a little tired from yesterday from putting in a big effort in the chase group, so to see her get this kind of a result today, and be so close to being on the podium was really good to see.”

5th was Felicia Gesior of NMU, and in 6th was St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi. Known as something of a classic specialist, the result marks Kirvesniemi’s second top ten freestyle performance in the CCSA this season.

7th place went to Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin, who recently returned to the Huskies from the U23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“I was happy with how both Deedra [Irwin] and Tom [Bye] skied given their travel schedule,” said Haggenmiller. “They both flew back from Kazakhstan on Monday. I thought they needed some racing this weekend but not necessarily both races, so we looked at Saturday’s race as being a little less taxing.”

NMU’s Sophie Schimpl took 8th, while Alaska Fairbanks Anne-Tine Markset and Nicole Bathe took 9th and 10th respectively. “It’s good to see some consistency from Anne-Tine,” said Alaska Fairbanks Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “Even when she’s not feeling great she can still hold her own.”

11th went to Allison Ternes of CSS, 12th was Vera Gruber of NMU, and in 13th was UAF’s Ann-Catherine Uhl. 14th went to Rebekka Schueder of NMU, and 15th was Elizabeth Peterson of CSS.

“I think we had a really good weekend, especially on the women’s side,” said Northern Michigan Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “I saw quite a few of our young freshmen perform better then they have, like Gruber and Rebekka Schueder. Jordyn [Ross] also had a solid weekend and Felicia [Gesior] had a win and was fourth today, so that was real solid…A really positive weekend for the ladies.”

St. Cloud State University Head Coach Jeremy Frost was happy with Maria Hauers race, as she skied to 21st in the CCSA. “It was a cold day and you could tell some of the competitors were really bothered by it,” said Frost. “I felt Maria did a good job of not letting the cold, wind, and delayed start time disrupt her game plan and she was able to put in a quality race effort in less than ideal conditions.”

Fjeldheim was impressed with the depth of the women’s field, saying, “all the athletes showed a lot of class racing in the cold temperatures. It was good solid competition for our women. I think the whole region here—with Alice [Flanders] and Sharmila [Ahmed]—I think our whole region here is becoming a lot more competitive, especially on the women’s side. So that’s a good sign. The whole CCSA looked strong today.”

Erik Soderman of NMU took his first win in the CCSA on Saturday, winning with a time of 19:27.2. His teammate Fredrik Schwencke was second, 2.3 seconds behind the pace of Soderman.

Fjeldheim said that it was a close race between the NMU teammates. “Erik and Freddy, they were getting splits back and forth. They were never more then 4-5 seconds apart the whole race.”

“I think Fredrik is getting more and more confident in his skating,” said Fjeldheim of Soderman’s improved skating technique.

Paul Schommer made the podium once again, his third of the CCSA Championships. “Paul had a rough day in [Friday’s] classic race,” said Salmela. “He’s been focusing on biathlon so he’s been up and down in classic races this year, but he bounced back on Saturday nicely, which is good for confidence. I think he can be every bit as good at NCAA Regionals.”

Fourth was Adam Martin of NMU, and 5th was St. Olaf’s Jake Brown. 6th was Thomas Bye of MTU, recently returned from the Junior World Championships, and St. Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert took 7th.

Jonas Loeffler of UAF was 8th, and in another breakout performance for the NMU sophomore from the Czech Republic, Kristof Kopal took 9th.

“Kristof Kopal has made a huge step in the right direction,” said Fjeldheim. “He’s come so far from last year. I’m really satisfied with the men’s team this weekend.”

The St. Scholastica men’s and women’s team won the CCSA Championships, a four event series held over the past two weekends at Spirit Mountain Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

“Winning both men’s and women’s CCSA Championships is a huge step forward for our ski program,” said a thrilled Salmela.  “We had a spectacular day again as a team.”

Salmela had been concerned about the losing the Saints advantage to Michigan Tech, who were bolstered by the return of Deedra Irwin from the U23 World Championships. “I didn’t know if we’d hold our own today with them at full power,” said Salmela, “but our ladies stepped up big. To finish the Championship by edging Tech by a point was kind of an icing on the cake…a sign that we earned this title.”

Salmela was equally pleased with his men’s team, saying, “I really was impressed with our men today, they haven’t raced this well as a team all year, and I think our guys just rose to the occasion on a day that they had to perform to make history. I get goose bumps thinking about it…The whole team, scorers and non-scorers, all made me so proud today. Doing what we did today just makes the title we won so much sweeter because it was a championship performance by our guys. No doubt about it.”

Results: Men | Women

— Pasha Kahn

 

Northern Michigan’s Gesior, Schwencke Win Classic Mass Starts at CCSA Distance Champs

Northern Michigan University’s Felicia Gesior and Fredrick Schwencke took the top honors in Friday’s classic mass start race at the CCSA Distance Championships held at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

The women’s 15-kilometer race was initially led by Michigan Tech’s Ulrika Axelsson who pushed the pace early on in the five lap race. Axelsson was joined in the lead on the first lap by Nicole Bathe of Alaska Fairbanks before the NMU duo of Felicia Gesior and Jordyn Ross skied to the front of the race.

From then on the trio of Axelsson, Gesior and Ross led the race, staying 10 to 15 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. “She [Axelsson] was kind of the person pushing the pace throughout the race,” said Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. “She animated the race.” Haggenmiller added, “It was fun to see her out there making everyone work hard.”

At the start of lap 4 St. Scholastica’s Allison Ternes took the lead of the chasing pack. “I think Allison just was feeling good and had no real experience beyond lap 3,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. It was Ternes first race of more than 10 kilometers, and as Salmela put it, “she got excited, but tired a bit down the stretch.”

Late in the final lap of the race Gesior made her move, pulling ahead of Axelsson and holding her off in a close race to the finish line. Gesior won with a time of 44:32.9, 1.8 seconds ahead of Axelsson.

Gesior’s victory came in part from a change in strategy for the junior Wildcat. “Felicia learned from last time we were here not to lead the whole race,” said NMU Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim referring to the Twin Cities Championship mass start classic race held at Wirth Park in late January. In that race Gesior broke away early to lead by a wide margin before tiring late in the event to take second. Gesior made no such mistake in Friday’s race.

“Both Jordyn [Ross] and Felicia skied smart races today,” said Fjeldheim. “Our whole women’s team was in the top 15.”

“It was down to Ulrika [Axelsson] and Felicia [Gesior] on the last lap, and Felicia had a little more left for the last half a lap,” said Haggenmiller. “Credit to Felicia for being able to hang on and win a fairly tight sprint.”

In third place was NMU’s Jordyn Ross, 8.4 seconds behind Gesior and in fourth was Anita Kirvesniemi of St. Scholastica. “She was super savvy today to get fourth, despite hitting a rough patch,” said Salmela. “That’s just really smart racing that gets you there under the circumstances.”

In 5th place was Marit Sonnesyn of Gustavus, and in 6th was Anne-Tine Markset of Alaska Fairbanks. “Anne-Tine skied a great race,” said UAF Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “It’s been exciting to watch Anne-Tine throughout the season. It’s fun to watch her race.”

Taking 7th was Allison Ternes of St. Scholastica. “To be 7th in this field as a freshman in your first 15 kilometer race is just super impressive,” said Salmela. “I think race of the day goes to Allison.”

In 8th was Nicole Bathe of UAF, and in 9th Rebekka Shueder of NMU, a freshman from Sparneck, Germany. Rounding out the top ten was NMU’s Sophie Schimpl.

The men’s 20-kilometer mass start classic race was led early on by St. Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert before Northern Michigan’s Fredrik Schwencke, Adam Martin, and Erik Soderman took over the front of the race along with UAF’s Jonas Loffler. The four leaders skied ahead of the rest of the men’s field with Hodgert and St. Olaf’s Jake Brown leading the chase.

UAF’s Loffler hung on to the three Wildcats until the final lap of the race when the NMU trio began to vie for the top honors. In the end it was Schwencke who had the closing speed to win the day, crossing the finish line with a time of 45:03.3. Martin took second, 5.2 seconds behind, and Soderman third, 1.6 seconds later.

“It was good to see the boys staying fit and fast,” said Fjeldheim. “They were challenging each other throughout the race.”

Loffler of UAF took fourth, a performance that pleased Turman. “Jonas [Loffler] was the highlight in a day where the men’s team really shined,” said Turman. “We had 5 guys in the top 15 and we’re sitting comfortably in second place as a team.”

“I’ve known all season that we can ski at this level,” said Turman, adding, “Jonas skied to his potential today, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying for a coach as seeing someone reach their potential.”

In 5th was St. Olaf’s Jake Brown. “It’s his second good classic race of the season,” said St. Olaf Head Coach Tom Jorgenson. “That puts him in a good position for making NCAA’s.” Brown, known for his skating prowess, has sharpened his classic technique this season. “It helps that the classic races are mass start and longer distances,” said Jorgenson. “The longer the distance the better Jake does.”

Taking 6th was Hodgert of St. Scholastica. “Reitler was really on today, you could tell,” said Salmela. “He was so on that it was a little much at the start. I think without realizing it, he used up a bit of energy in the first 6 kilometers that would have come in handy about the time Jake Brown made a surge. But that’s how you learn—from experience, and Reitler had a great one today.”

7th went of Alexander Eckert of UAF, and in 8th place was Kristof Kopal of NMU. A sophomore from the Czech Republic, it was Kopal’s first top ten performance.

9th and 10th went to Michigan Tech’s Kyle Hanson and Thomas Kendrick, respectively. “The guys raced really well,” said Haggenmiller, “they raced their way up.”

The CCSA coaches praised the race organization at Wirth, noting that the course was both fast and fair.

Results: Men | Women

— Pasha Kahn

MTU’s Hjelstuen, Axelsson Victors at CCSA Championships Sprints

Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen and Ulrika Axelsson skied to victory in Sunday’s CCSA Sprint Championships held at Spirit Mountain Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota.

A 1.4 kilometer freestyle sprint, held on a winding and technical trail made for exciting racing. After a qualifying sprint 18 racers advanced to the semifinal heats, with the top two from each heat advancing to the final and third and fourth place skiers moving on to the B final.

In the first men’s heat Hjelstuen, the fastest qualifier of the day with a time of 2:57.9, cruised to first while his Michigan Tech teammate Sam Holmes took second. David Joda, also of MTU finished third and St. Scholastica’s Calvin Mehrhof was fourth to move on to the B final.

In the second heat St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer and Joe Dubay dueled over the course of the race, with Schommer taking the lead up the final climb into the finish to win the heat with Dubay taking second. Gerrit Garberich of CSS and Thomas Kendrick of MTU advanced to the B final.

The last semifinal heat was led by Chris Parr, skiing in the Open division. Kyle Hanson of MTU took second to move on to the final, while Reitler Hodgert of CSS and Josh Blakenship of Gustavus moved on the B final.

In the men’s B final Garberich and Reitler led the race from the starting gun, until Michigan Tech’s Joda pulled into the lead heading into the downhill, 500 meters from the finish. Joda demonstrated his speed and strength on the final climb, leaving the rest of the field behind to win the B final comfortably. St. Scholastica’s Mehrhof took second while Gustavus’s Blankenship edged out CSS’s Hodgert who faded late in the race.

The men’s final was led from the start by Hjelstuen, who took control of the race early, with Parr and Schommer in close pursuit. On the final climb Hjelstuen attacked, leaving behind Schommer and Parr to battle for second. Heading into the finish Hjelstuen glanced back, and seeing that he was not under pressure, went for a stylish finish, skiing backwards across the line to win the day.

Parr crossed second, and Schommer third. MTU’s Hanson and Holmes went 4th and 5th respectively, while Joe Dubay of CSS finished 6th, his race hampered by a broken pole.

“Haakon pretty much led from start to finish,” said Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. Of Hjelstuen’s method of finishing the race, Haggenmiller chuckled, “that’s a Norwegian thing, he’s a heck of a sprinter so he’s able to go fast enough where he’s able to hot dog it backwards through the finish line.”

“I thought the whole team skied great this weekend,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “Paul [Schommer] looked like his form was quite good, Joe [Dubay] showed a lot of life today, and the format that we don’t get to race much let a lot of others on our team shine today, which I love to see.”

Heat 1 in the women’s sprint race was led initially by St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, the fastest qualifier of the day, and her teammate Evelyn Delong. Michigan Tech’s Ulrika Axelsson skied behind the two Saints, moving in behind Ahmed until the final climb where she attacked, winning the heat with Ahmed in second. MTU’s Carolyn Lucca and Green Bay’s Bree Mucha went 3 and 4 in the heat and advanced to the B final.

The second women’s heat was led from the starting gun by MTU’s Lisa Koenig and Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha. Koenig led the race for more than half the distance until CSS’s Ellie Evans made a late charge up the climb to win the heat with St. Olaf’s Piper Bain in second. Koenig and Allison Ternes of CSS moved on the B final.

The third and final semifinal heat was controlled from start to finish by CSS skier Anita Kirvesniemi. Late in the race Liz Peterson of CSS attacked and challenged Kirvesniemi, but a crash in the final meters put her out of contention. Gustavus Adolphus’s Marit Sonnesyn in second. Nora Gilbertson of CSS and Maria Hauer of St. Cloud State University advanced to the B final.

The B final was led out of the gates by the Michigan Tech duo of Koenig and Lucca. Koenig looked strong throughout the heat, with Ternes of CSS closing down the gap to Koenig late in the race, nearly catching the Huskie in the final meters. Lucca skied to third, while Mucha took 4th, Gilbertson 5th, and Hauer 6th.

Saint Cloud State University Head Coach Jeremy Frost said, “Maria [Hauer] has battled illness and injury on and off this season so it was great to see her qualify in 11th and stay in, or right on the pack in the semis and B final.” Frost added that it was “nice to see Kiersten [Haaversen] get so close to qualifying for the heats. That is a great result for her and should give her confidence moving forward.”

Kirvesniemi led the women’s final with an explosive start, creating space for her teammates Evans and Ahmed to follow behind her. St. Scholastica looked to be in control of the front of the race, but MTU’s Axelsson found space to ski into second place behind Kirvesniemi. Axelsson made her move at the base of the final climb, charging up the hill and ahead of Kirvesniemi. St. Scholastica’s Ahmed responded to Axelsson’s move and took the outside corner at the crest of the climb in a bid to pass Axelsson in the final straight away—but the Michigan Tech sophomore from Sweden held on for the victory.

“Ulrika [Axelsson] kind of put herself in second place where she was able to make a move on that final hill,” said Haggenmiller. “She made a really good move and was able to really take it to the rest of the field.”

“It was everything an A final should be” Salmela said about the women’s race. “The course is such that you really want the best line on the final turn even if perhaps you’re dying, because it’s a long way around the outside to take the win. Ulrika made the right decision at the right time, but Sharmila [Ahmed] almost still had enough to go around. It was really a great way to end the weekend.”

St. Scholastica’s Evans finished just ahead of Kirvesniemi to take third, while Piper Bain took 5th for St. Olaf and Sonnesyn 6th for Gustavus.

St. Olaf Head Coach Tom Jorgenson was pleased with Bain’s result. “Piper [Bain] was our top girl today, she’s a junior transfer and she didn’t ski race during her first two years in college, and she hadn’t done a sprint race since high school so I had no idea what to expect from her today. She’s a quick, scrappy skier; I’m super excited for her today.”

Results

— By Pasha Kahn 

St. Scholastica Sweeps CCSA Relay Championships

The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) swept the top of the podium Saturday at the CCSA Relay Championships, winning on home snow at Spirit Mountain Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota.

The women’s 3 x 7 kilometer freestyle relay was led out of the gates by Michigan Tech’s Ulrika Axelsson with St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi and Liz Peterson skiing in close pursuit. Axelsson held the lead for her entire leg, handing off to teammate Lisa Koenig just ahead of Kirvesniemi and Peterson. Kirvesniemi of CSS 1 tagged off to Ellie Evans, and Peterson of CSS 2 handed off to Chelsey Youngberg. The two St. Scholastica teams quickly took control of the race, with Evans and Youngberg pulling away from Michigan Tech’s Koenig. Evans handed off to CSS 1 anchor leg Sharmila Ahmed with a 31-second advantage over CSS 2’s anchor skier Allison Ternes. Michigan Tech’s Koenig tagged off to Alice Flanders 23 seconds behind CSS 2.

“I felt to ensure a win today, we needed a cushion on the final exchange,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “I wasn’t ruling out pulling it off with Sharmila [Ahmed] and Alice [Flanders] together at the exchange, but when you’re up against Alice in a 7.5km freestyle, you just do the math. It’s just going to take anyone in the CCSA a great day to beat her, and Sharmila is one of the few who could, but a cushion is nice.”

With Ahmed starting the final leg of the race with a 54 second advantage over Flanders, St. Scholastica had the cushion that Salmela desired. Ahmed skied a strong and composed race to win the relay with a total time of 49:02, while Flanders battled back for Michigan Tech, passing Ternes to take second with a time of 49:53.6.

Ternes finished third for CSS 2 with a time of 50:23.5. As the program’s second relay team CSS 2 will not receive medals or championship points but it still marks a result for the Saints.

“Two teams in the top three is just more than you can anticipate,” said Salmela. “Really great skiing from everyone. Ellie [Evans] really made the move of the race, and as it turned out, Sharmila would have had the form today to challenge Alice if it came to that, but it was easier on me for sure that it never did. Our second team was just awesome too, making it to the podium.”

Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller said that he thought the race “started out pretty well, and our anchor leg went pretty well,” but added, “I think Lisa [Koenig] had a little bit of a rough day on her second leg and that was kind of the story for the men too. You know Scholastica really raced well so we have to give them a lot of credit, they beat us fair and square.”

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay took fourth in the women’s relay, and third in the Championship standings. Led by Kailey Mucha, Hanne Guthrie, and Bree Mucha, in that order, the Phoenix enjoyed a good day at Spirit Mountain.

“All three had respectable laps—they showed progressive effort,” said Green Bay Head Coach Steve Teclaw. “Hanne [Guthrie] had the best race of the three, she had a lot left in the tank after the first lap and was able to put time on the other girls.” Guthrie skied the second fastest middle leg for the Pheonix. “All in all it’s a fun weekend,” said Teclaw.

St. Olaf 1 took 5th in the relay with Michigan Tech 2 in 6th, and Saint Cloud State University 1 in 7th. Gustavus Adolphus finished 8th.

The men’s 3 x 10 kilometer freestyle relay was led in the opening leg by Michigan Tech’s Kyle Hanson. Chasing Hanson was Reitler Hodgert of CSS 1 and Jake Richards of CSS 2. St. Olaf’s Nels Thompson was also in close pursuit along with MTU 2’s Thomas Kendrick.

Hanson demonstrated his skating prowess, pulling ahead of the chasing pack to hand off to his teammate Sam Holmes with a 16 second advantage over CSS 1. Hodgert tagged Paul Schommer who started quickly with an eye on closing the gap to Holmes. Schommer caught Holmes and continued to put time on the rest of the field, handing off to Joe Dubay with a 1:16 advantage over Nick Power of CSS 2. Holmes tagged MTU 1’s anchor leg skier Haakon Hjelstuen in third.

Hjelstuen skied a fast first lap, catching CSS 2’s Calvin Mehrhof, but Dubay proved to be out of reach for the Norwegian exchange student. Dubay skied to victory for the Saints with a total time of 1:05:13, with Michigan Tech taking second with a time of 1:06:08.

The Saints relay victory came in part due to the strategic acumen of their skiers. “Paul [Schommer] is a great, great skier,” said Salmela, “but the guys saw me putting Paul last against Haakon [Hjelstuen], and they actually told me they knew Paul could ski with him if they were knotted together, but they all agreed Paul couldn’t outsprint Haakon if it came down to that. They asked for an order change, and I gave it to them.”

CSS 2 took third while MTU 2 skied to fourth. St. Olaf finished 5th overall, but third in the CCSA Championship standings.

“I set a goal of our team being in the top three programs, and our men’s team made that,” said St. Olaf Head Coach Tom Jorgenson. “I can tell that our team really likes skiing relays, they’re very team focused, so they do well in events like these.”

Jorgenson said he was “really impressed by Nels [Thompson’s] opening leg, he was right there with the other teams so I’m really encouraged by Nels result there. And Jake [Brown] skied a great anchor leg to put us into that third program position.”

Jorgenson added that, “It’s pretty impressive what they’ve done here on this course with how little snow we have right now, so I’m glad that we can be here.”

Gustavus Adolphus took 6th in the men’s relay, CSS 3 was 7th, and Green Bay 8th.

— By Pasha Kahn

NMU Coach Voted National Collegiate Ski Coach of the Year

University of Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim received the 2014 National Coach of the Year award from United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association as a result of the receiving the highest number of votes from his coaching colleagues.

“It was truly an honor,” Fjeldheim said in a press release. “I’ve won awards in the past but never anything quite like national coach of the year, and when the award is voted on by other coaches across the country, it’s something special that you won’t ever forget.”

NMU finished seventh overall and second place in nordic skiing at the 2014 NCAA Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah, led by senior Rosie Frankowski and junior Kyle Bratud. The result was one of the program’s top finishes at the championships.

The coaching award was celebrated by NMU skiers, who respect the knowledge that Fjeldheim has shared with them over the years.

“It wasn’t that big of a surprise to me that he won the award,” junior Felicia Gesior said in a press release. “He has a great amount of knowledge for the sport, and everyone knows about his dedication for it and his team, and his success over the years has shown that.”

Gustavus Skiing Becomes a Club Sport with the Possibility of NCAA Eligibility

Gustavus Adolphus College announced in late March that the Minnesota school would no longer fund the its varsity nordic ski team. The move by the administration, which came as a shock to both participants in the program as well as onlookers, ended a program that had produced several NCAA competitors as well as many accomplished student-athletes.

While the varsity program lost its funding, the ski team will still be able to exist as a club program and possibly continue to compete in Central Collegiate Ski Association. To compete in NCAA races, members of the team would need to fundraise for travel and race entry. Another key factor in the allowance of Gustavus Adolphus to participate at the collegiate level will be its NCAA eligibility, which the school’s administration is currently debating.

Frankowski, Schwencke named Central Region Athletes of the Year; Jorgenson and Fjeldheim take coaching honors

Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski and Fredrik Schwencke have been voted the Central Region’s Women’s and Men’s Athlete of the Year, respectively, by the CCSA coaches, the conference announced Monday. In addition, St. Olaf coach Tom Jorgenson collected the Women’s Central Region Coach of the Year recognition, while NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim earned the same honor on the men’s side.

Frankowski earned the region’s top honor after writing a magnificent final chapter to her Northern Michigan career. The one-time walk-on was the national runner-up in the 15K skate race at the NCAA Championships, earning first-team All-American status. Frankowski also took sixth in the 5K classic race at nationals (good for a second-team All-American trophy), and also landed the top spot in both the regional and CCSA Championship skate events.

Schwencke, meanwhile, exceeded all expectations with his stellar first season with the Green and Gold. Like Frankowski, the freshman also collected a pair of All-American spots at the NCAA Championships, taking 10th in the 10K classic before finishing sixth as part of a massive lead pack in the 20K freestyle race. Schwencke found his best form at the right time of the season, helping the Wildcats to both CCSA and regional team championships by landing podium places at both events at the CCSA Championships.

The region’s Women’s Coach of the Year, Jorgenson has overseen a steady growth in St. Olaf’s skiing programs over his two-year tenure at the helm, culminating in an NCAA berth (and subsequent All-American finish) for Paige Schember this season. Schember took seventh place in the 15K freestyle at the NCAA Championships, and finished the season as the region’s fourth-ranked skier on the CCSA points list.

“I’m surprised, honestly, to win this award,” Jorgenson said. “I’m very honored, and I’m grateful to the other coaches for recognizing the improvements our program has made, as well as grateful for the high standards they have set that I can follow and work towards as a coach.”

Not far removed from CCSA competition himself – he skied for the Oles before graduating in 2011 – Jorgenson believes that experience has helped shape and inform his coaching. “It helps me to connect with my skiers a little bit more, and understand what they are going through as students and athletes,” he said. “For example, I know Paige so well at this point that the NCAA Championships was almost easy; we both knew what we needed from each other.”

Fjeldheim, meanwhile, continues to add to his impressive trophy cabinet, guiding his men’s team to team titles at both the CCSA and NCAA Central Region championships this season. Fjeldheim sent a full compliment of three men to the NCAA Championships earlier this month, where he helped the team ring up a total of three All-American places.

In addition, Fjeldheim, who earned the region’s men’s and women’s Coach of the Year honors a year ago, was also named the CCSA’s Coach of the Year following the regional championships in February.

 

Source: CCSA

 

NMU’s Cartwright, St. Scholastica’s Ahmed earn Skier of the Week honors; Fjeldheim named CCSA Coach of the Year

For their contributions at the NCAA Central Region Championships last weekend, Northern Michigan’s George Cartwright and the College of St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed have taken home the season’s final CCSA Skier of the Week honors, the conference announced Saturday.
A fifth-year senior for the Wildcats, Cartwright played a vital role in helping NMU to secure the men’s and overall team titles over the weekend. The Wyoming native opened his stay in Houghton with a fifth-place finish in the men’s classic race (second-best on the team) before finishing as the top collegiate skier the mass start skate race, topping the rest of the CCSA field by more than 21 seconds. Cartwright’s efforts helped Northern Michigan to overturn a three-point deficit heading into the final day of regionals, lifting the Wildcats to a comfortable seven-point team victory.Likewise, Ahmed contributed crucial points to her squad as well, helping the St. Scholastica women claim their best-ever finish at regionals, as the Saints took second just behind perennial powerhouse Northern Michigan. Ahmed saved her best race of the season for when it mattered most, taking second place in the women’s skate race to score 23 important points for her team. The junior also scored for her team in Saturday’s classic event as well, taking 11th place overall in the event. Her points helped St. Scholastica claim its first-ever podium in the NCAA Central Region Championships combined team scores; the Saints placing third for the weekend, behind just NMU and Alaska.Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim, meanwhile, collected the CCSA Coach of the Year honors for both the men’s and women’s side. Now in his 25th year at the helm for the Wildcats, Fjeldheim guided his team to a clean sweep at both the CCSA Championships and the NCAA Central Region Championships as NMU claimed the men’s, women’s and overall team titles at both events.

“It is a real honor to receive the CCSA Coach of the year award for both the men’s and women’s team, especially since it is all of the CCSA coaches who vote on this award,” Fjeldheim said. “It’s a real be honor to be selected by a group of coaches who we compete against all season long.”

Fjeldheim, however, was quick to praise his student-athletes for the team’s success.

“Much of the credit goes to the NMU ski team athletes and the way that they have supported one another all season, not just with their racing, but also their fall dry-land training and respecting one another as individuals. The team has depth and talent and most of all a very competitive atmosphere exists within this group, they pushed one another during the intense training sessions all fall and were ready to train no matter what the weather was, rain, shine, sleet or storm”.

Source: CCSA