Under the umbrella of UAA Athletics are eight teams: five that are distinctly men or women’s, and three that are co-ed.
Of the three that are co-ed, two share some of the same athletes (see: distance runners), and one that is self-sufficient.
Alas, we’ve arrived at the UAA ski team: 30 young men and women all hailing from a variety of countries in the Northern Hemisphere, from Sweden to Latvia, the United States to Canada.
Junior Mackenzie Kanady is one of about a half dozen skiers on the team who are from right here in Anchorage. The junior cross-country skier finished off a strong 2014-15 season – finishing 14 overall in the 5K freestyle in the NCAA Skiing Championships in Lake Placid, NY over spring break.
The Northern Light spoke with the Anchorage-native about her upbringing, the lack of snow this winter, and her favorite professor.
TNL: When did you begin skiing?
Kanady: “I’ve been skiing my whole life. Ever since I could walk I’ve been skiing. I started competing when I was old enough to compete, so probably maybe around 12 or 13 (years old).”
Where did you first begin skiing?
“Well, I’m born and raised in Anchorage, so I joined a club called Alaska Winter Stars. And so I trained with them in the summer, and then I raced with them in the winter. I also raced for the schools I went to here in town.”
Did you ever think you would rise to the NCAA-level of skiing?
“I always kind of thought that if I was fast enough to ski in college, that I would — because then it’s kind of your window of opportunity to help you pay for school as well.”
How many hours a day are you training during the season?
“It’s not so much during the season that we train — it’s before the season. … You kind of have a plan of how many hours you want to get for the year. So for me, I was on a 550-hour plan and I started training in mid-May. Some people start earlier. … You want to get a lot of hours in the summer so you have more time, and you have those hours under your belt before you hit the fall. And then (in) the fall, you ramp up the endurance and then you are doing more intervals and less hours.”
Have you thought about how many hours next year you would like to put in?
“Yeah, so I think as you get older, and as you put more and more hours under your belt, you can kind of slowly move up. And there is obviously a point where you shouldn’t train anymore, but I think you have to keep increasing. So I think I’ll probably go for around 600 next year.”
Do you ever get sick of being on skis?
“(Laughs.) What’s hard isn’t necessarily the training or the ski racing. What’s hard is the traveling, because it’s tiring. Being in Alaska we always have to travel west, so we always have to fly — we usually fly overnight — so you get kind of sick of packing and unpacking your suitcase. And so by the end of your season you’re like, you’re happy about it, but you’re ready for it to be done because it’s been a long year.”
What do you do for fun outside of skiing?
“(Laughs.) I mean school is a big part of my life. I think being a student athlete you have to study just as much as you train. But I mean, other than that I’m (laughs), I’m a normal person. I like to hang out with friends, go to movies — just relax, not think about skiing, not think about school. You know, just hang out, have fun.”
Where do you train during the season?
“We do a lot of skiing at Hillside because it’s closer (than Kincaid Park) … by Hilltop (Ski Area), but occasionally we go out to Kincaid and this year has been tough because of the snow. So we pretty much have been skiing wherever the snow has been treating us nice.”
Was the lack of snow an agonizing aspect of this winter?
“It wasn’t as bad as you may think because — I mean, you look around and there is no snow. But the groomers have done a great job … keeping up the little amount of snow we had. There was only one time in November we had to go back to running and roller-skiing, which is kind of depressing (laughs), but we still got our (annual training) camp in over Thanksgiving. What it affected was our regional races — those were supposed to be on the Girdwood Trails and out at Kincaid, so those had to get all switched around because holding a race is different than trying to practice.”
“(Laughs.) I’m in a Thermodynamics class right now and I really enjoy it.”
“Professor [Jeff] Hoffman.”
Great, thank you!