UAA Nordic ski team’s associate coach Andrew Kastning kept busy during the winter break, adding new names to his roster. Included in his new recruits were two Nordic skiers: one female and one male.
Austin Huneck debuted his UAA collegiate career for the 2019 season as a spring addition, while Helen Wilson will have to wait until the 2019-20 season to get into the action.
Huneck originally started his collegiate skiing career at the University of New Mexico in 2015-16. He became successful in his short time there with a top-15 finish at NCAA Nationals, eighth place at regionals and 20th in the U.S. National Championships.
Huneck credits his top-15 finish at nationals as his most memorable finish from his skiing career so far.
Prior to coming to UAA, Huneck competed in Sweden, where he raced in the Vasaloppet, an annual long distance cross country ski event. Huneck posted the 943rd finish to beat out most of the 15,800 who competed.
“I have been skiing since I was three years old,” Huneck said. “My dad introduced me to the sport and to racing.”
His skiing has taken him all over the world, so naturally, Huneck decided that Alaska should be the next destination for his career.
“I chose UAA because it’s a great opportunity for me to race in the western circuit, and I was excited to come to Alaska,” Huneck said.
As for his time here, Huneck explained that he hopes to earn a spot competing against the top collegiate athletes in the country, as well as helping the Seawolves win competitions.
Kastning is confident that Huneck will be adding strength to the men’s team due to his previous results in long distance races.
Huneck is majoring in psychology but has no plans after that.
As for the women’s side of the team, Wilson will be joining the team from Eagle River.
Kastning is excited for the arrival of Wilson in August.
“Helen is one of the strongest in her Alaska class, and we are looking forward to working with her towards her athletic goals,” Kastning said.
Wilson is both a Nordic skier and a biathlon competitor. She competed in the Youth World Championships twice, representing the United States. She helped lead Team USA to two top-20 finishes in the relay.
Similar to Huneck, Wilson also began skiing young. She was just 7 years old when she started in Junior Nordic.
She grew up in Alaska, learned to ski in Alaska and now plans to continue her skiing career in Alaska.
“Alaska is a hub for Olympic skiers, and I don’t think that is just a coincidence. It is a great area to train and it produces amazing athletes,” Wilson said. “I want to continue pursuing my skiing career and I think the best shot at that would be here in Anchorage, at UAA.”
She explained that she believes that coming to UAA will make her a stronger skier. Wilson is excited to be able to race on many of the new venues the team travels to on the west coast of the United States.
Wilson has many substantial accomplishments under her belt. Recalling her prior successes, she hopes that the Seawolves will bring her many new accomplishments.
“My greatest skiing accomplishments include qualifying for [Junior Nordic] three years in a row, beginning when I was a freshman in high school,” Wilson said. “However, my greatest biathlon accomplishments have been competing in Junior Worlds two years in a row, as well as Junior Open European Championships and a Junior IBU Cup last year.”
Similar to Huneck, Wilson doesn’t have any set in stone plans with her academics, despite having a declared major in business.
For more information and a full skiing roster, visit www.goseawolves.com.