After bouncing back and fourth between Utah and Montana to kick off the 2016-17 season, the Alpine Seawolves were joined for competition in Girdwood, Alaska. The Alpine team being the official host for the UAA and Seawolf Invitationals from Wednesday, Jan. 25 to Saturday, Jan. 28 while the Nordic team continued the competition with the Invitationals the following Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Being a rather special occasion, the Seawolves were lucky to get the excessive snowfall that southcentral Alaska received.
“We only get to be home once every other year; it’s great and it’s stressful in that we want to put on a quality event but we have our challenges with either too much or not enough snow. But Alyeska [did] a fantastic job putting that venue together for us,” head coach Sparky Anderson said.
With over 201 inches of snow on the season but steady rain and snow setting in from Wednesday until Sunday, the skiers weren’t exactly set with the ideal conditions that they had anticipated. Joined by other Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association members, the Seawolves fell in the middle sitting at No. 6 in the regular season team standings, only after competing in two meets.
Although certain things may not have been ideal, alpine junior Conor McDonald and the team were grateful to be on familiar ground.
“We had three days on the race hill before anybody was here, so that was a big advantage,” McDonald said.
After day one, the Seawolves trailed in at fifth place with 117 points following Montana State in first at 170, Utah at 150, Denver at 148 and New Mexico at 123.
Regardless of the overall score, individual Seawolves were able to prosper with their home field advantage.
Alpine junior Charley Field produced a season-high result with a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.8 seconds, securing her in third place. In addition, alpine sophomore Alix Wells (1:50.44) placed 16th and Katherine Lamoureux (1:55.26) trailing in at 30th.
With already several impressive individual finishes, the team realized the value that Alyeska is to them.
“[It was] definitely a home field advantage, we are comfortable down at our venue, that’s where we train… they know the hill,” Anderson said.
On the men’s side, alpine sophomore Tony Naciuk proved to be the first one down the mountain on for the Seawolves, coming through in 1 minute 47.96 seconds, securing 10th place. Less than a second away, senior Curtis McKillp (1:48.72) and freshman Dominic Unterberger (1:48.95) came through at 17th and 20th.
In the unprecedented event of freezing rain in the south central region of Alaska, day two of the Seawolf Invitational and day one of the UAA Invitational were both postponed until Friday, Jan. 27.
In the overall day two, for both the slalom and giant slalom, Wells and Naciuk proved again to be the top UAA finishers in both events.
Wells took a respected 11th place (1:49.67) in the first race of the day and then continued on to place 12th (1:42.32) later in the day. Naciuk additionally took 10th (1:42.39) and 11th (1:40.84) in the two races he competed in.
Both skiers have a history of leading the UAA team with top finishes, being the fifth time now for Wells and third for Naciuk.
Day two led to the conclusion of the Seawolf Invitational, which led UAA off to a finish with 190 points, good for sixth place overall. Montana State came to be the overall winner of the invite with a final score of 333 points.
Despite the team score not being as high as they had liked, the meet was still productive and enjoyable.
“The skiing community is basically like a family, so it’s really cool to get the other teams up here,” McDonald said.
In addition, day two was just the beginning of the UAA Invitational. The Seawolves were able to secure 106 points, placing them at forth, after New Mexico, Denver and Utah.
To finish of the first parts of the double weekend meets before nordic takes their turn, the Seawolves competed in a final alpine with day two of the UAA Invitational.
The men and women concluded with a final 53 and 47 points, respectively.
The men’s side finished with three top-20 finishes, with Naciuk again leading the pack for the fourth race of the weekend. Naciuk came in at 8th with a time of 1 minute, 34.81 seconds. Following not far behind was McKillop (1:35.38) who came in at 16th and Unterberger (1:35.49) at 18th.
On the other side, the women had two top-20 finishes, secured by two of the top UAA finishers for the previous races of the meet. Field, who produced a season-high on Wednesday, came through at 14th place with 1:39.04, followed by another meet standout, Wells, at 17th with a time of 1 minute, 40.47 seconds.
At the conclusion of the UAA Invitational, the Seawolves have a combined 206 points that puts them good for sixth place. In addition, with the finish of the alpine races in the Seawolf Invitational, the team also secured sixth place in that meet.
Both meets will continue starting Tuesday, Feb. 7 with the beginning of the Nordic races in Kincaid Park.