Category: Skiing

May 4, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

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Tracen Knopp signs his national letter of intent for Nordic skiing at UAA. In his senior year, Knopp inished fifth in the final Besh Cup standings and was sixth in ASAA Skimeister standings. Photo credit: UAA Athletics

Volleyball 2017-18

With the loss of all-stars Morgan Hooe and Erin Braun, UAA volleyball head coach Chris Green made up the difference with the addition of five new players, two of which have been already practicing with the Seawolves this spring.

The previous two signees for the team included Casey Davenport and Jalisa Ingram. Davenport will be a freshman coming from Auburn, WA and Ingram also a true freshman coming from Flagstaff, AZ.

The first addition is a local from Anchorage who graduated from Dimond High School. Anjoilyn Vreeland was a four year letter awardee on Dimond’s volleyball team, along with current UAA Seawolf and former Dimond Lynx player Leah Swiss. In high school, Vreeland was able to help her team to all four 4-A State Title matches in her career, as well as the championships in 2012 and 2015.

After graduating from Dimond and before coming to play at UAA, Vreeland spent a year in Pendleton, Oregon. She played at Blue Mountain Community College where she average 3.08 digs per set.

Vreeland is currently joined by another newcomer who has already been practicing with the Seawolves. Tara Melton also started her collegiate volleyball career away from UAA before transferring. In Arizona at Glendale Community College, Melton spent two years playing for the team as a middle blocker and right-side hitter.

Green is exceptionally optimistic about the future of the team with Melton. She was able to already play at a competitive level and show her future potential.

The 6-foot-1-inch Melton was also named to the 2016 National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association First Team All-American. She boasted 3.05 kills per set and 0.78 blocks per set in 2016, a switch from her averages in 2015 at 2.03 and 0.83, respectively.

With those, Melton was ranked third nationally in attack percentages, which helped her team to a national third-place in 2015 as well at a 54-8 record during her career there.

“[She] played at the highest level in junior college and proved she can be an elite offensive performer,” Green said.

The final addition to the team is a true freshman from thousands of miles away. Vera Pluharova is traveling to UAA all the way from Nechanice, Czech Republic.

Pluharova was familiar with the Seawolves long before she signed to the team. Due to being a member of the TJ Slavia Hradec Kralove club team, she was able to play against the Seawolves during their 2015 European summer tour and get a glimpse of what a future at UAA looked like.

In addition, it gave Green an insight into her playing ability.

“[She] has been very impressive in the back row this spring and comes from elite high school and club programs, so we are confident she will add great depth,” Green said.

With the official announcements of these five new volleyball players, they are the first additions to the UAA athletic community, with skiing coming second after the official signing of two skiers.

Skiing 2017-18

The alpine ski team lost all four of the total graduating seniors, despite that, head Nordic coach Andrew Kastning was the first to announce his additions on the Nordic side.

Kastning was grateful for the new additions; both being current Alaskan residents. One from Colony High School and the other from West Valley High, they both have excelled in the sport they just signed the national letter of intent for.

“Both [recruits] represent the very best of their respective ski clubs and it is always a big recruiting goal to have the best Alaskans join our team,” Kastning said.

Tracen Knopp is one of the two, and has competed in numerous ski races that ranked him as one of the best, as well as competing in cross country running in the fall.

During his senior year, Knopp took 27th at Junior Nationals in the 15K classic, as well as ranking sixth at the ASAA Skimeister standings. In addition, he placed fifth in the final Besh Cup standings.

To add to the female Nordic team, Jenna DiFolco signed her national letter of intent. As far as Besh Cup standings, DiFolco came out ranked No. 1 for women under 18.

In the ASAA Skimeister standings, she placed third, and at Junior Nationals she competed in two events, placing in the top 25 for both.

Both have shown obvious potential and ability to transition into a collegiate career of skiing, and according to Kastning, they will have years to continue to improve and grow.

As far as other sports, incoming recruits will be announced throughout the next several months. National letters of intent are generally signed during April, but coaches and teams can accumulate other athletes and walk-ons into late summer months.

April 12, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

Lauren Cuddihy is a member of the UAA Seawolves Track and Field team.

With the loss of numerous prominent athletes from every team, the official National Collegiate Athletic Association signing period isn’t until mid to late April, depending on the sport, but coaches have been recruiting for quite a while and many already have very promising prospective athletes.

UAA guard Kiki Robertson takes a shot over Point Loma Guard Amy Ogren during the first round of the NCAA Division II Western Regional Championships on March 13, 2015 at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo credit: Adam Eberhardt


Volleyball will be the first season to kick off the 2017-18 school year in August, two very prominent athletes used their remaining eligibility and won’t be returning. Morgan Hooe, the standout setter and team captain finished off her senior season.

Hooe was a very significant contributor to team for the past four years, racking up numerous awards and All-Americans, she will be followed by freshman Madison Fisher to take the place of setter on the team.

Erin Braun is the second loss the team will suffer, who had been a duo with Hooe for the past four years. Braun was a middle blocker for the team, successfully ending her career with numerous awards such as First Team All-GNAC, West Regional Championships All-Tournament and maintaining GNAC All-Academic for her entire collegiate career.

Head coach Chris Green confirmed that they had prospective athletes signing during the signing period in mid-April, but as of now no comment is allowed to be made until they sign.

Women’s Basketball:

Women’s basketball is another fortunate team, similar to volleyball, the team only loses three players, however, they happen to be three of the most successful.

The first to go is Alysha Devine, the Wasilla local and 6’0” forward has been a key component to the team for the past four years — even playing in all but one game her freshman season. The GNAC All-Academic and conference honorable mention leaves the team as being the fifth-leading scorer.

In addition, forward Autummn Williams and guard Kiki Robertson both depart their collegiate basketball career for UAA.

While this was only Williams first season and only season at UAA, Roberston has played and been a significant player for the past four years. Robertson also ended her career with 15 different awards and notable accomplishments during her career.

Again, head Coach Ryan McCarthy noted that although they have prospective athletes, due to NCAA regulations no specific information can be released.

“At this point we are unable to comment on anyone we have signed until the NCAA signing period for women’s basketball which is in mid-April. Once we do get everyone signed, which should be around May, we can comment publicly but due to NCAA rules, at this point in time we are unable to do so,” McCarthy said.

Men’s Basketball:

Of all the sports at UAA, men’s basketball is taking the second biggest hit, losing seven of their 16 current players. Included in these loses are guards Suki Wiggs, Diante Mitchell and Spencer Svejcar.

Wiggs produced top performances for UAA and earned numerous awards including First Team All-West region and USBWA National player of the week. He ended his career with an impressive 24.4 points per game average, good for fifth in all of NCAA Div. II.

Mitchell also ended the season with an honorable mention All-GNAC status as well as being All-Academic in the conference.

In addition, the team is losing forwards Travis Parrish, Corey Hammell, Tayler Thompson and Connor Devine.

Devine just started and finished his only season at UAA, after transferring from South Dakota State, but he proved to be a vital asset to the team. He was the fourth leading scorer, third leading rebounder and top shot blocker for the Seawolves.


Hockey also takes a very minimal loss, only four players of their current 27-player roster.

Defensemen and assistant captain Chase Van Allen finished off his fourth year of eligibility with the Seawolves, competing in the majority of games all four years. Van Allen played in all 34 games of his junior season, 31 of his sophomore season and 30 of his freshman season.

In addition, the team loses forward Dylan Hubbs, forward Brad Duwe and goalie Rasmus Reijola.

Hubbs and Duwe, similar to Van Allen, played in the majority of the games all four seasons.


The skiing teams, split into Nordic and alpine, look at a loss of only four players, but all of them belonging to the alpine side.

On the men’s side, Curtis McKillop and Hughston Norton depart after the 2017 season. McKillop made several NCAA Championship appearances in his career and was also named to the All-Academic ski team every year. Norton also managed to make NCAA championship appearances every year of his career.

On the women’s side, Katherine Lamoureux and Miranda Sheely both concluded their final collegiate season.


Although the gymnastics team is losing only three athletes, their roster is only topped off at 14 athletes total.

The first to depart is Nicole Larkin, who has made appearances in nearly every single meet since her freshman year and helping to contribute to several school records in team totals. Larkin made a significant contribution to the team, being co-captain for three years straight as well as being named to MPSF All-Academic team every year.

In addition, Brice Mizell and Kallie Randolph will not be returning after expiring their four-year eligibility. Both have also contributed to school records in overall team scores. Randolph produced some of the best floor scores in her time at UAA and earned several All-MPSF honors.

Head coach Paul Stoklos also confirmed that no athletes have officially signed until late April, but their team is expected to increase in size.

“It is out hope to sign three athletes and to add four walk-ons to bring our team size closer to 18 athletes,” Stoklos said.

Cross Country/Track and Field:

The last season of the year and the final team to compete contains members of the cross country and track and field team, who are still in competition until late May. Being one of the largest teams in the UAA program, it is also the team that loses the largest amount of athletes, at 14 after the commencement of their outdoor season.

On the men’s sprint team, only one athlete is being lost. Adam Commandeur, a prominent member of the men’s 4×400 sprint team and a successful 400m runner. For the men’s distance and cross country team, the Seawolves will lose six runners, including Joe Day (800m), Michael Mendenhall (mile, 3k, 5k), Philip Messina (mile, 3k, 5k), Jesse Miller (800, 5k), Michel Ramirez (5k, 10k) and Victor Samoei (3k, 5k, 10k).

In addition, the men’s team is losing a prominent jumper, Tevin Gladden. He holds the UAA record in high jump and holds several top jumps in the UAA record book for long jump and triple jump.

On the women’s sprint side, very prominent loses will be seen. Karolin Anders (heptathlon), Jamie Ashcroft (100m, 200m), Hayley Bezanson (200m, 400m), Alexia Blalock (jumps/hurdles) and Mary-Kathleen Cross (100m, 200m, 400m) will not be returning.

Three of them, Ashcroft, Cross and Bezanson, are a part of the 4x400m UAA record team. In addition, Ashcroft holds the UAA indoor and outdoor record in both the 100m and 200m and is a part of the 4x100m outdoor UAA record. Anders is currently finishing off her final outdoor season; she holds the UAA record in the indoor high, triple and long jump, as well as shot put and the pentathlon.

Dakayla Walters is another member of the track team not set to return. Walters competes in the shot put and discus, making appearances at numerous GNAC Championships.

With the departure of many talented athletes, teams will be adding many new faces to Seawolf athletics, finalized recruits added to teams will be announced by the end of April.

April 3, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy

As the 2016-17 school year nears the end, it also marks the end of many athletes’ last ever college season with a sport that they have dedicated countless hours to. It is a bittersweet end for many; after four years at a collegiate level of competition, it’s a large change to not compete in that way anymore. Many of these UAA athletes are now graduating with a degree to start their future in, but some still have to stay and finish their degrees with no more eligibility left.

To get a glimpse into the lives of these soon-to-graduate college athletes, alpine skier Miranda Sheely, men’s basketball guard Spencer Svejcar and volleyball’s setter Morgan Hooe shared their experiences.

Women’s Skiing – Miranda Sheely

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Miranda Sheely skiing slalom at the NCAA West Regionals. Although out of eligibility years, Sheely plans to stay in Alaska to finish her degree. Photo credit: Sam Wasson/UAA Athletics

Originally from Frisco, Colorado, Miranda Sheely has always been in a skiing location, which is shown by the fact that she’s been skiing a large majority of her life. She originally learned to ski when she was only two years old and began competing in the sport at the young age of five.

Skiing has always been one of the most important aspects of Sheely’s life and coming to UAA to compete and earn her degree only added to the significance. Now that she finished her last year of eligibility, Sheely described how devastating it is knowing it’s all over.

“The worst [thing about running out of eligibility] would be leaving my team. I grew so close to each and every one of them. They are my family, and I will really miss suffering through fall training with them. All the cold and rainy days but also enjoying the sunny days and traveling together,” Sheely said.

Although it’s all over and she’s moving into a new chapter in her life, Sheely will always look back fondly on all the people she was able to meet from all over the world that skiing at UAA introduced to her.

However, if there was something Sheely wished she could tell herself four years ago it would be to cherish every day.

“I wish I would have known how fast it would fly by, and to try my hardest every day and always take that extra run because all four years flew by,” Sheely said.

As for now, Sheely is one of many athletes that run out of eligibility but still have to finish their degree. She plans to stay in Alaska for the foreseeable future to finish her degree and find a job in therapeutic recreation, and, of course, continue skiing for fun.

Men’s Basketball – Spencer Svejcar

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Spencer Svejcar at an away game at Northwest Nazarene University. Svejcar finished the 2016-17 season with a .458 3-point average and a 15.1 points per game average. Photo credit: NNU Athletics

Spencer Svejcar, another Colorado local, came to UAA to play as a guard on the men’s basketball team. In addition, Svejcar has been pursing his degree in physical education. Being a full-time student is already a large responsibility, but adding a sport on top it was something Svejcar wasn’t initially prepared for.

“I wish I would have known how hard you have to work every single day and had a better understanding of how important it is to manage your time properly so you can get athletics and schoolwork done every day when I came into it years ago. I had to get to a whole new level of work ethic once I realized what it actually takes to play college sports,” Svejcar said.

However, the hard work and time commitment never turned Svejcar away from basketball. This is the sport he had grown up with, playing since he was five and beginning to compete for YMCA ball in kindergarten.

For Svejcar, all the hard work and dedication was worth it in the end.

“The best thing was being able to travel around the country to places I had never been and experience things I had never experienced. Also, being able to try and work as hard as possible for four years to perfect a certain craft and put myself into the position I am today was really rewarding,” Svejcar said.

But even behind the glamorous travel and the lifelong friends, there was intense hours of long training. Svejcar and his teammates were only in competition from November until March of every year, which meant the rest of the time was spent in the gym and the weight room putting in work. Svejcar recalled that the worst part of college athletics was the off-season and pre-season training.

Unlike Sheely, Svejcar doesn’t want to give up his sport just yet. Although he has more credits to take to finish his degree, Svejcar plans to continue training and then pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.

When basketball is all over and done competitively in his life, Svejcar wants to finish his degree and get a job in the lower 48.

Volleyball – Morgan Hooe

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Morgan Hooe waits for the whistle at a UAA home game. Hooe, leader in assists in the 2016 season, hopes to continue to play professional volleyball in Europe. Photo credit: Adam Phillips

Similar to Svejcar, Morgan Hooe just finished up her eligibility and instead of leaving competitive volleyball behind indefinitely, she wants to head to Europe to pursue professional volleyball.

However, those plans for Europe are on a temporary wait list in Hooe’s life while she focuses on her last stretch of school. She has until spring of 2018 to graduate with her degree in physical education.

While she continues taking classes to finish up, Hooe will continue training and staying in shape to be prepared for a professional level of volleyball. Although the collegiate level is a step down from that, Hooe got an introduction to a high level of competition and other perks along the way.

“The best part about competing [at UAA] would definitely be how fast and competitive the level of play is and the opportunity it gives you to make new friends and travel all around the United States and the world,” Hooe said.

However, as many other student-athletes would agree, Hooe recalled that she missed out on many hours of sleep and a lack of a social life to be able to focus on her athletics and academics. Hooe and her team generally had two practices a day as well as five required sessions in the weight room a week, which she maintained for four years straight. Regardless, Hooe learned many valuable things from being a student-athlete.

“I wish I would have known before I got here that that you will constantly improve over your four years and that you won’t be the best overnight. You have to work on yourself and your game each and every day if you want to be the best,” Hooe said.

March 28, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
Hailey Swirbul competes in the 2017 NCAA Skiing Championships held at the University of New Hampshire. Swirbul completed the 5K classic and 15K freestyle in 16:34.8 and 41:46.9 respectively. Photo credit:

As the Seawolves’ skiing season came to an end, freshman Hailey Swirbul proved to be the highest performer of the final national meet, as well as, a standout performer throughout the duration of the season.

The El Jebel, Colorado native came to UAA for the first time in the difficult period of time where the future of the ski team remained unknown, but, despite that, the Nordic standout exceeded expectations.

Before coming to Alaska, Swirbul became a back-to-back Junior Distance National Champion, as well as, managing to qualify and compete in the World Junior Championships in 2016.

Swirbu competed in the World Junior Championships again this year during her collegiate season.

“The best part of the season for me was actually off of the collegiate circuit. I raced as part of a relay team at World Junior Championships and earned third place. This was the first time in history that the US has earned a relay medal at WJ’s,” Swirbul said.

However, skiing hasn’t always been Swirbul’s primary sport. She only added the skiing into her routine as cross training for mountain bike racing. Both she and her brother trained together for bike racing until transitioning to skiing.

Not only was skiing not her first sport, but Nordic wasn’t even the first type of skiing she incorporated into her life.

“My brother and I switched from freestyle skiing to Nordic skiing to keep our fitness high through the winter for biking,” Swirbul said.

Ever since then, Swirbul has participated competitively in nordic skiing, and has gone to great lengths and made great accomplishments. However, just like an college athlete, she noticed the extensive changes that occur in collegiate competition.

“Many of the people racing in the [Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association] are from Europe, and are years older than I am, so the level of competition is higher. It is interesting to hear different languages at all the race venues, like Norwegian, Estonian, Italian, etc.” Swirbul said.

This observation is unique to not only collegiate skiing, but also at UAA. Throughout the United States, many college-level skiers come from Europe primarily due to the extensive early-training skiers receive there. For UAA, many of the ski team members, as well as athletes from other teams, come to Alaska for the ample opportunities it offers.

On the ski team alone, Swirbul is joined by 13 athletes from other countries, an impressive amount of the total 22 on the team.

Even with such a diverse and supportive team, Swirbul had to overcome several obstacles for her first season. To no surprise, she had to deal with some chronic foot injuries: an extremely common injury for freshmen to experience injuries during their first year in any collegiate sport, primarily due to the change of training.

“I had to cut holes in all my boots! That was the only solution to relieve the pressure from my heels and ankle bones,” Swirbul said.

Despite that, Swirbul managed to consistently compete and do well all season. In addition, she managed to stay on top of a full course load as a civil engineering major.

Swribul knows that eventually, competitive skiing will end and a career will begin. Fortunately, she has so far enjoyed her courses specific to her major. Not only that, but she has high goals set for the future.

“After graduating, I would like to focus more on structural and transportation engineering projects in Alaska, but I am not sure where I would like to go with it specifically,” Swirbul said.

With the positive news of the ski team not being cut for the future, Swirbul will enjoy three more seasons of eligibility to compete for UAA, but until next year’s season, she has time to focus on her course work until the end of the 2016-17 school year.

October 30, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

This academic year will likely encompass the final collegiate seasons of skiing and indoor track and field in the state of Alaska, as a result of Strategic Pathways.

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen released that the university system submitted a waiver request to the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Oct. 19 for the discontinuation of men’s and women’s Nordic and alpine skiing at UAA and UAF, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field at UAA.

Per NCAA rules, schools in Division II must be competing in a minimum of 10 sports. The request Johnsen and UA has submitted is to cut the number of sports at UAA from 13 to nine and from 10 to eight at UAF.

According to UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett, this decision will slice off 42 percent of the athletic budget cuts required, contributing around $1.95 million toward the budget reduction.

In an email message to the university system on Oct. 27, Johnsen stressed that this decision has not been an easy one.

“I love everything about the competitive nature of sports, I respect the men and women who compete as a Nanook or a Seawolf,” Johnsen said. “I can promise that we will do everything we can to ease the transition we all will face.”

Approximately 95 athletes overall, not including the coaching and support stats, will be impacted by the waver request, if it is accepted by the NCAA, who will meet in November to determine the outcome of the request. If accepted, the proposal will then move to the Board of Regents for final approval.

March 20, 2016 Nolin Ainsworth

The UAA ski team entered the 2016 NCAA Skiing championships March 9 anxious to improve on a ninth place showing last year at the same event.

Eight races and several missed opportunities later, the Seawolves will have the same challenge for next season, finishing ninth for the second consecutive year at this year’s venue of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The University of Denver returned to college skiing glory after a one year hiatus — having won the national championship in 2014. The Pioneers beat out rivals Colorado and Utah by over 80 points, finishing the meet with a cumulative score of 567.5 points.

The Seawolves 179.5 total points was well below what a top-five finish required.

Mackenzie Kanady was 32nd in the women’s 15-kilometer classic race in the final day of the four-day meet. Fellow Seawolves Casey Wright and Patricia Sprecher finished 35th and 39th respectively. Kanady hoped for a much higher showing in her race.

“Sometimes you can try everything and do everything you can to perform well and some days the cards just aren’t in your favor,” Kanady said.

The men’s 20 kilometer classic race did not go much better for UAA. Luca Winkler finished 26th, Etienne Richard 36th, and Toomas Kollo 38th.

The Seawolves had a promising first half of the meet Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday, March 11 – punctuated by senior Sean Alexander’s sixth place finish in the grand slalom.

“It’s his best ever [grand slalom] finish in a [NCAA] championship so it’s nothing to sneeze at and it was a great finish for him,” coach Sparky Anderson said. “I know he wanted to be on that podium but we’ll take an All-American.”

The UAA women’s alpine team also fared well in the grand slalom. Maria Gudmundsdottir had a two-run time of 2:02.06, good for 12th. Sophomore Charley Field and senior Isabella Andreini finished 17th and 29th respectively.

“To be in the top-15 in this field is pretty exceptional, especially as a freshman,” Anderson said of Gudmundsdottir.

The second day of the championships featured the Nordic freestyle races.

Kanady was UAA’s top finisher in the women’s 5 kilometer freestyle race at 15th — less than 30 seconds off the winning time.

“It wasn’t quite the result we thought she was capable of but as far as time off of the leader, she had a great race,” UAA Nordic coach Andrew Kastning said. “The race was the closest packed race I’ve ever seen for a [5-kilometer freestyle], if you wanted to be top-30, you needed to be within one minute of the leader – so seconds counted.”

The third day of the meet featured the slalom races on Howelsen Hill. Hughston Norton finished 15th in the men’s slalom with a time of 1:26.31 and Gudnundsdottir 18th.

NCAA Skiing Championship Team Scores (Final, 8 events)— 1. Denver 567½; 2. Colorado 491½; 3. Utah 485; 4. Montana State 406; 5. Dartmouth 335; 6. New Mexico 317½; 7. Vermont 310; 8. Northern Michigan 217; 9. Alaska Anchorage 179½; 10. New Hampshire 151; 11. Middlebury 133; 12. Colby 107; 13. Alaska-Fairbanks 97; 14. Williams 86; 15. St. Michael’s 50; 16. Plymouth State 27; 17. Michigan Tech 19; 18. St. Scholastica 6; 19. Bates 1; 20. Harvard and Wisconsin-Green Bay 0.

March 6, 2016 Nolin Ainsworth

A pair of seniors with podium aspirations and jump-start freshmen highlight this weekend’s National Collegiate men’s and women’s skiing championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The championships kick off Thursday, March 10 with the running of the men’s and women’s giant slalom at Mr. Werner. The women’s 5 kilometer and men’s 10 kilometer freestyle races blaze the trails Friday, March 11, on nearby Howelsen Hill. The second half of the championships follow the same pattern. On the night of Saturday, March 12, the men’s and women’s slalom events take center stage under the lights. The final day of competition features the long distance Nordic races including a women’s 15-kilometer classic race and men’s 20 kilometer classic race.

The Seawolves are one of eight teams that qualified the maximum 12 student-athletes. The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, to which UAA belongs, has the largest share of participants of any one conference in the championships with 84. In total, 144 skiers representing 21 different institutions will be competing in the four-day event.

Sean Alexander, Hughston Norton, Curtis McKillop, Isabella Andreini, Charley Field and Maria Gudmundsdottir are the alpine skiers competing from UAA.

“I think we’ve done a good job of preparing our team for a championship event,” head coach Sparky Anderson said. “Looking back on this season the kids are all improving constantly at a good pace, and to me, that’s a sign of a successful program… It’s taken us a while to get to this part of the season where they are peaking. We haven’t had great opportunities to train at home because of the warm winter.”

The alpine team is led by senior Sean Alexander, who is fresh off a first-place finish in the grand slalom event at the RMISA/NCAA West region championships. Alexander had a two-time score of 2:19.30, beating out Colorado University’s Henrik Gunnarsson and Max Luukko by less than 0.4 seconds.

“That experience was one-of-a-kind for me,” Alexander said. “Through my college career I’ve had a lot of battles with injuries and so it’s always been a battle to get to a place … I was skiing to a level that I knew I could.”

Gudmundsdottir and Field will also be contenders for a podium spot in their races. The two are consistent top-10 finishers in the slalom and giant slalom events.

Toomas Kollo, Etienne Richard, Luca Winkler, Mackenzie Kanady, Patricia Sprecher and Casey Wright will be representing UAA on the Nordic side.

Head Nordic ski coach Andrew Kastning dealt with unexpected turnover in his team this season. Incoming sophomores Marion Hundry and Kathrin Schratt left the program to pursue career opportunities in their fields in Europe.

“When you lose skiers like that in our region it’s tough to have a strong team score through the regular season,” Kastning said. “I think the mood is good on the team and were not going in there expecting to be middle to the back-of-the-pack. We’re going in there with expectations to get some All-Americans and be a top-7 school.”

Kastning is proud of how the team has come together under adversity.

Senior Mackenzie Kanady continues to improve on her second team all-RMISA status from last season. Kanady finished 25th and 14th in the 15-kilometers classic race and 5-kilometer freestyle race at the NCAA championships last season.

The races can be streamed live through starting on Wednesday, March 9.

February 12, 2013 Keon McMillan

Lukas Ebner is one of the top Nordic men skiers at UAA. I was honored to have the chance to interview him this past week about the season, Germany, and painted nails.

March 6, 2012 Ashley Smith

The UAA ski team posted a record-breaking regular season and is now headed to the NCAA Championships March 7-10. For the second time in program history the ski team qualified a whole team for the NCAA Championships.

February 14, 2012 Taylor Hall


The UAA Ski Team was able to claim a fourth place team finish at the UAA Invitational, taking place at both Kincaid Park (Nordic) and Alyeska Resort (Alpine) from Feb. 4-10.

The University of Utah was able claim the team title convincingly with 898 points, a good bulk of which came from the men and women’s Nordic events in which they placed first in three of the four events held.

Behind them in second was Colorado University (831 points), University of Denver in third (775), the Seawolves (718) and Montana State University (688) rounding out the top five teams.

In the Men’s Nordic events, MSU’s David Norris finished first in the 5K Classical and second in the 10K Freestyle, earning the Bobcats 97 points from his efforts alone. UAA sophomore Lukas Ebner led the way for the Seawolves with his eighth place and fifteenth place finishes in the Classical and Freestyle, respectively.

On the Women’s side, Utah’s Maria Graefnings and CU’s Eliska Hajkova both earned 97 points for their respective teams with first and second place finishes. Graefnings won the 10K Freestyle while Hajkova claimed the 5K Classical. UAA senior Jaime Bronga highlighted a strong team showing by the Seawolf Women. She finished fourth in both the Classical and Freestyle to earn the Seawolves 82 points on her own.

On the mountain, the Men’s Alpine saw DU’s Espen Lysdahl take first in the Slalom and second in the Giant Slalom to gain 97 points for his pair of impressive showings. UAA junior Andreas Adde finished in sixth place in the Giant Slalom and in eleventh place in the Slalom to lead the UAA Men.

Utah’s Tii-Maria Romar claimed victory in the Women’s Slalom as well as a third place finish in the Giant Slalom to highlight the women’s competition. The UAA Women saw freshman Anais Urbain claim 41 points with her fourth place finish in the Giant Slalom while senior Alex Parker claimed eighth place in the Slalom to help pace the Seawolves.

Action kicked off with all of the same teams competing in the Seawolf Invitational that took place Feb. 9-11.

Utah was again the victors after they claimed a team score of 858 points to edge out Denver (806), who made a charge on the last day of the meet with a combined 240 points from the Men and Women’s Slalom events.

Colorado (775) wound up in third place just ahead of New Mexico (769). UAA would take the fifth spot to wrap up their second host meet.

­­­CU’s Rune Oedegaard and Norris battled for supremacy in the Men’s Nordic events. Norris claimed his third win of the week after he edged Oedegaard in the 10K Freestyle. Odeegaard exacted revenge when he claimed victory over Norris in the 20K Classical race. Both racers earned their teams 97 points apiece with their respective 1-2 finishes.

Once again, Ebner would lead the UAA contingent with his pair of ninth place finishes in both the Classical and Freestyle events.

Hajkova and Bronga went head to head in both the Women’s 5K Freestyle and 15K Classical races. Hajkova would claim first in both events and earn Colorado a max 100 points. Bronga continued her impressive senior year with a second and third place effort in the Classical and Freestyle events, respectively. She earned 91 points for UAA and finished in the top-5 of all of her events over the week.

At Alyeska, DU’s Trevor Philp took home the gold in the Men’s Slalom with a time of 1:24.49. Lysdahl would take second to help the Pioneers to a 1-2 sweep in the event. The Seawolves would be led by Harmanen who finished in tenth place with a time of 1:26.81. The Men’s Giant Slalom races would be cancelled due to poor conditions.

On the Women’s side, Denver’s Sterling Grant would take home the win in the Slalom while Utah’s Jaime DuPratt claimed the Giant Slalom victory, both earning 50 points for their teams. Urbain finished her impressive week for the Seawolves by claiming second place in the Giant Slalom, only .44 seconds behind DuPratt. In the Slalom, UAA junior Kayla Hoog-Fry was the top Seawolf with her twenty-first place finish.

February 7, 2012 Ashley Smith

For the first time since 2009, the Seawolf Ski Team hosted the first of two Nordic races Feb. 4 at Kincaid Park in the Alaska Anchorage Invitational. The day kicked off a week’s worth of events being hosted by the Ski program including the rest of the UAA Invitational and start of the Seawolf Invitational.

June 14, 2011 Megan Edge

A coach is the ultimate leader of the pack.

They are role models and teachers to their athletes. They are responsible for teaching more than just the rules of a game, but the rules of life as well. This position is one that cannot be filled by just anybody; it takes a special kind of person. After five years as the head alpine coach at UAA, Sparky Anderson will lead the UAA ski team as the ‘Wolves new head coach of the program.

May 31, 2011 Megan Edge

200 local runners lined up on May 25th to race for your UAA Seawolf ski team.

No more than 200 people were allowed to race, a rule set by the State Park.

Running veterans Matias Saari and Najeeby Quinn won the 8-mile battle for the 13th annual Turnagain Arm Trailhead race.

Former UAA skier Erik Strabel still holds the race record, beating Matias time this year by 12 seconds. Strabel did not compete this year.

The race started at the Potter Trailhead and ended at the Rainbow Valley Trailhead, where Saari, a Mount Marathon winner, hit the finish line in just 52:32.

For the women, Quinn completed the race in 1:03:01, with UAA’s own All-American skier Jaime Bronga on her heels with a time of 1:09:25.

Bronga was not the only ski team athlete racing to support her program. She was joined by Kelsey Coolidge and Davis Dunlap, as well as others who chose to volunteer rather than race.

Quinn, who has also won the Mayors Marathon, became the new women’s record holder.

This race however, is not about the prize at the other side of the tape, but rather is about supporting the UAA Ski team. The 20-dollar registration fee all 200 runners paid will go toward scholarships, new uniforms and banquets. In total the UAA ski team legacy fund will earn 4,000 dollars from this year’s proceeds.

“The biggest benefit is good health from being outside running,” Said Trond Flagstad, UAA’s former head Ski Coach, who resigned at the end of the past season.

The event was started in 1999 by Nordic coaches Bill Spencer and Gregg Cress. This trail was chosen because the snow melts than most other trails around Anchorage. Originally, the race went from Potter to Rainbow, then reversed direction in 2006 due to Rainbow to Potter, due to a request from runners.  Now, the race alternates direction every other year.

This year the race ran in its original direction.

“It’s always the first trail race and mountain race of the season, so a lot of people come out to see how they are doing in their training and to get started with the trail running season,” Flagstad said.

This is the 13th year the race was scheduled, despite it only being the 12th year that it was run. “In 2004 we had to cancel the race because there was a bear feeding on a moose carcass right next to the trail,” said Flagstad

Often the racers spot moose or bears, either in training or during the race, but it is just something race officials have to monitor, according to Flagstad.

“It is calving season for the moose so the activity is pretty high,” he said.


March 29, 2011 Megan Edge

After seven years head ski coach Trond Flagstad is throwing in the towel and resigning. He isn’t the only memorable ski coach at UAA resigning however. Assistant ski coach, Mandy Kaempf will also be leaving after five seasons with the team.

February 8, 2011 Megan Edge

Without question, the face of UAA Alpine Skiing belongs to sophomore Andreas Adde. Adde, from Osteras, Norway, made quite an impact his freshman year, and is continuing to lift the bar for alpine skiers at UAA. This ‘Wolf was the 2010 NCAA and RMISA (Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association) champion in Slalom, as well as…

January 25, 2011 Megan Edge

The Utah Invitational came to an end Jan 22 with the University of Alaska Anchorage seawolves in fifth place, and a score of 658.5 points total combined from eight events.

“The season is going better and better,” said head coach Trond Flagstad. “We are just getting started with the regular season meets and everyone is excited about racing and looking better than before the holiday break.”

Ahead of UAA, in first place finish was Colorado with 923 points, followed by Utah (898), New Mexico (824.5), and Denver who totaled 710 points. Finishing with a respected 6and 7-place finish was Montana State (640), and Westminster (254).

The Seawolves were lead by junior Steffi Hiemer, of Kruen, Germany. Hiemer finished in fifth place in the 15k race (57:25.9), and a season high time of 15:3.2 in the 5k race on Friday.

Also contributing to the wolves’ was junior Laura Rombach finishing in 11 place (58:38.7), and freshman Marit Ulsand finishing 13 (59:14.0).

Hiemer and Rombach are leading the team to a successful season according to Flagstad.

Lukas Ebner crossed the finish with a season high fifteenth place finish. Ebner completed the 20k race in 1:08:23.4.

The UAA ski team was finished the MSU meet in fifth place, as well on Jan. 15 and 16. The Wolves’ were able to end the meet with four athletes with top-ten posts.

With a third place finish at MSU, was sophomore alpine skier Andreas Adde, of Osteras Norway. In 2010, Adde became the NCAA National Champion in Slalom and received All-American and All-Conference honors (1st team).

“Andreas Adde has had a solid start he is ahead of where he was last year at the same time so that is very encouraging.” Flagstad said.

Adde posted a 1:28.08 two run time at the meet, which became his second top three-finish time of his career.

In 24th place was junior Cameron Brewington with a time of 1:30.27. Not far behind in a respective 26th place finish was fellow junior Halfdan Falkum-Hansen (1:31.50).

“Cam Brewington is stepping it up on the men’s team and is ranked second on the UAA team after two meets.” Flagstad said.

Finishing in 19th place for the Nordic men’s team was freshman Lukas Ebner. The Furtwagen, Germany native finished with a time of 1:05:00.3 in the 20k race.

Ebner is expected to be the UAA Nordic ski teams strongest skier, but of course, there is always room for improvement for himself and his teammates according to Flagstad.

On the women’s Nordic side, the team ended with a team high 105 points in the 15k race. Junior Laura Rombach finished in fourth with a time of 51:06.6 followed in eighth place by junior Steffi Hiemer (51:28.3).

Junior All-American skier Alex Parker led the women’s alpine team in the Slalom, finishing in 19th place.

“(Parker) has had a good start despite the injury in her hand.” Flagstad said.

Parker, however, is not the only athlete recovering from an injury.

Already in the young ski season, sophomore women’s alpine skier Petra Gantnerova, will have to take time off until mid February due to a torn Achilles tendon.

Also forced into putting his skies up for the season will be freshman alpine skier Niko Harmanen, who is recovering from an injured tibia plateau.

“Both were expected to be among our top skiers this year.” Flagstad said.

The UAA ski team came back from their winter holiday break, and started the city in Park City, Utah.

“Christmas break was very good and productive. Most of our athletes went home for the holidays and had a good four to five week of quality training,” Flagstad said, “everyone had a chance to recharge their batteries and are ready to race hard for the Seawolves.

We have focused a lot on high quality training over the holiday break and are looking for pay off later in the season specifically at the NCAA in March.”

The UAA Nordic and Alpine team will both be competing next in Red River New Mexico, at the New Mexico Invite.

December 8, 2010 Megan Edge

Our UAA ski team will kick off their official season in Park City Utah on January 8, 2011 to start off the new year. On Nov. 19 through Nov. 21 the UAA men and women skiers competed in Fairbanks in the Alaska Nordic Cup. History however, repeated itself after the ‘Wolves lost to the Nanooks…

October 26, 2010 Taylor Hall

Need to get rid of your old skis or snowboards and make some money? Are you looking for a good deal on the latest ski equipment? Do you like helping support local groups and the community?

Get it all done by attending the 2010 West High Ski Swap Oct. 30-31 and start off your ski or snowboard season right. The free event takes place at West High School and is put on by the Alyeska Ski Club (ASC) and the UAA Ski Team.

The highly popular seasonal get-together has been going on at West High for quite some time, perhaps so much time that people can’t really seem to remember the exact year it started up.

Russell Sell of ASC and organizer of the Ski Swap, was able to paint a pretty good picture of just how long the event has been going on.

“We know of at least a couple people who grew up going to the swap, went to West High, went off to college, came back, got married, raised their kids and now those kids are attending the event,” Sell said with a laugh.

“It’s a generational event that we have 2,500 to 5,000 of our closest friends come out every year.”

ASC, a non-profit organization serving Alaska since 1970, works with nearly 500 kids in the winter time up at Alyeska Ski Resort and about 200 kids during the summer as part of their newest program “Mighty Bikes,” which is all about Mountain bike safety and fun for kids.

Sell himself has been in charge of putting on the event for nearly a decade now and has worked closely with the UAA Ski Team ever since coming aboard.

The event also acts as the Seawolf Ski Team’s biggest fundraiser. According to Head Coach Trond Flagstad, the swap raised around $10,000 for his program last year and went into buying new equipment for the team.

Flagstad also points out the Ski Swap is so much more than just what the name may lead one to think.

“It’s more than just alpine and nordic ski gear; it’s hockey skates, sleds, bikes, helmets, boots and snowboards too,” Flagstad said. “Basically any winter activity is there.”

On top of offering some of the best deals possible for selling or buying new or used winter gear, the Swap will feature plenty of vendors ranging from local to national clubs and groups.

“The last five years or so we’ve tried to make more of an expo out of it,” Flagstad said. “We invite groups to have booths and sell products and services to get the whole ski community out there.”

According to Sell, vendors will include local ski clubs, both alpine and nordic, and will have big name ski companies, such as Swix for example, providing demos and the latest products. Local ski/snowboard groups will have sign up sheets for upcoming programs and events as well.

Perhaps the most important service the Ski Swap offers the community also acting as food collection site for those who need help with the upcoming winter and holiday months.

“(West Ski Swap) is also an intake point for the Food Bank of Alaska,” Sell said. “Anyone who comes to the swap should bring something with them such as canned foods or non-perishable items.

“It’s so easy to do and it goes so far. It’s up to us to help out.”

All the food donated by the attendee’s of the swap will go to the Thanksgiving Blessing Project, a November community-wide food distribution event.

“Our guys will come to the swap, we’re not worried about that,” Sell said. “We want to make sure this event has something more to it for the entire community.”

So where else can you sell off your old gear, get a great deal on new equipment, demo the latest and greatest gear, help support the UAA Ski Team and help feed the less fortunate all in one or two hours?

You can accomplish all of it in one easy and fun motion by making sure you get yourself and the family and friends down to West High this week.

Editors Note: Doors open for buyers and sellers 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Oct 30. and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Oct. 31. For more information on the West High Ski Swap or on ASC and the UAA Ski Team, go to or

February 16, 2010 Josh Edge

The UAA ski team has gotten off to a fairly rough start this year, but the outlook is still bright in qualifying a number of athletes for the NCAA Championships.

“We have definitely been struggling and had a pretty rough start to the season,” Head Coach Trond Flagstad said. “We are not where we think we should be.”

Injuries and sickness has plagued the Seawolf roster up to this point – two skiers from the women’s alpine team, former All-American Kristina Repcinova and team captain Lacy Saugstad, have suffered season-ending knee injuries.

Also, a number of skiers have encountered low iron levels; endurance athletes typically have a higher-than-normal iron level.

These low iron levels forced Flagstad to leave some skiers behind during the New Mexico Invite on Feb. 5 and 6, in which UAA placed seventh. But, this problem is being remedied by having the iron deficient skiers take iron supplements. It is expected that these supplements will take approximately three weeks to take affect.

The Seawolves have two meets left before the NCAA Championships in March and UAA needs to take full advantage of that in order to qualify a full team for the national meet.

The Nordic team is coming around, but the alpine team needs to step up in the last couple of meets to maintain any hope of qualifying a full team, though, at this point they can probably qualify four skiers, according to Flagstad.

“We have two meets, four races, left,” Flagstad said. “We are pretty confident that we will qualify a full Nordic team. If we do not qualify a full team, it will definitely be disappointing.”

Qualifying a full team would give the Seawolves a good shot at finishing in the top five at the NCAA Championships.

Despite the crippling affect of these problems, and the team apparently having a little trouble getting their skis back under them, hopes remain high for the remainder of the season.

“We definitely believe in what we are doing and we are charging ahead,” Flagstad said. “We are all going to work in the next two meets to ski better than we have in the last few.”

UAA will take part in the Nevada Invite at Sugar Bowl in Truckee, Calif. on Feb. 19-21, and then in the Colorado Invite in Steamboat Springs, Colo. on Feb. 26 and 27.

February 2, 2010 Drew Neuerburg

With a season-best second place and numerous fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-place finishes, the Seawolves are still on the prowl for a top-three finish outside of their home state.

In the Montana Invite, UAA posted a total of 329 points between the Nordic and alpine teams. Their total was enough to earn sixth place, but was no match for New Mexico who claimed first, registering 467 points, beating defending NCAA Champion, Denver.

The reason for UAA’s sub-par results can probably be attributed to mental blocks they have yet to break, according to sophomore Alex Parker

“I think we all get a little too upset when we have a bad day,” Parker said. “Even though skiing is largely an individual sport, our performances all contribute to a team score and this tends to add pressure and sometimes we all get a little too caught up in the results.”

“This makes it hard to go out there the next race with confidence.”

While they have not performed at their highest level, they have been improving in each event.

The women’s alpine team’s performance is steadily improving as planned and should peak in March. The men are not only competing against themselves mentally, but also some of the best competition UAA has known, according to alpine coach Sparky Anderson.

“We came home from a very tough two week road trip. We lost Lacy Saugstad, our team captain and slalom anchor, which was a big blow emotionally,” said Alpine Coach Anderson. “Guys were skiing the first run and finishing first or second, then going out in the second run. Things didn’t go our way.”

“Some of it was dumb luck, some of it was mental. We have made adjustments in our training since we came home.”

If this was an inspirational movie, now would be the part where they just gone through a tough time, and now, under the pressure of necessity, begin to excel in everything they do.

“We all are really close and are always there supporting and cheering for each other,” said Parker. “I think this helps us a lot as a team because the support from each other pushes us individually allowing us to each contribute something to the team.”

“We seem to perform best when we are having fun.”

To turn the season around, the Seawolves must think positively and fight through the mental ups and downs of the sport.

The Seawolves will travel to Red River, N.M. on Feb. 5 and 6 to take part in the New Mexico Invite.

December 1, 2009 Drew Neuerburg

It is the beginning and they have a clean slate. On December 5 and 6, the UAA Ski Team has their first meet, a home meet, against the in-state rival UAF Nanooks.

“The meet is important because we race our state rivals UAF and you never want to loose against your neighbor,” said Head Coach Trond Flagstad.

Last year, the team showed major sign of life as the UAA ski team made it to the NCAA Nationals.

“Seeing that we were so close to winning the NCAA last year they all had some extra motivation and an extra excuse to train more and better this summer and fall,” Flagstad said.

Though it is a small squad this year, five men and five women, throughout their preseason, they have trained vigorously, pushing themselves to their limits. Four of the six skiers that went to the NCAA tournament are back again this year.

“We expect every skier that returns to ski better than the year before. As a team they have raised the level and the quality of the workouts,” Flagstad said.

This first meet will be a placement meet, to see where the team stands.

The main goal for the Seawolves is to compete hard at the meet and come away from it improving their form, technique and strategies. After this meet against UAF, UAA will have over a month-long break to work on the things they have problems with at this first meet.

It is not the point of their season that they need to be at their best. That time will come in March. But the team will give it their all, even in December, according to Flagstad.