Seawolves ready for hard competition at NCAAs

Senior Alex Parker has led the pack during her four year tenure at UAA. This will be Parker’s fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. Photo courtesy of Curran Photography

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. UAA was one of only five schools to qualify a 12 skier team in the competitive Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association.

The Seawolf team consists of three skiers in each category who are seniors Jaime Bronga, Steffi Hiemer, Alex Parker and Laura Rombach, junior Andreas Adde, sophomores Lukas Ebner and Lasse Molgaard-Nielsen and freshmen Sean Alexander, Vanessa Berther, Niko Harmanen, Anais Urbain and Nevio Zeni.

“It’s a huge goal, and it’s a goal of ours every year to qualify a full team and it’s very difficult to do,” said Head Ski Coach Sparky Anderson. “Our division is so talented and so stacked, so competitive that you gotta feel good when you can qualify 12.”

Coach Anderson stated that he knows the team is capable of breaking 2009’s record of coming in 4th and that it is their next goal.

Parker, Berther and Urbain make the Alpine women’s team. For Parker, one of four seniors going, this will be her fourth trip to the NCAA Championships where for the last three years she has finished in the top-10 in giant slalom.

The Alpine men’s team consists of Adde, Alexander, and Harmanen. This is Adde’s third trip to the NCAA Championships, who in 2009 became the 9th Seawolf to win an individual NCAA title by winning the slalom event at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Adde says he looks forward to going back.

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“It still is exciting because it’s a new hill, new competitors and the field is getting better too,” Adde said. “It’s more competitive now than it was my freshman year.”

Sophomore Lukas Ebner has qualified for the NCAA Championships both years he has competed for UAA. Photo coutesy Rick Boots

Parker also stated she is also excited to go to Championships this year but more for the atmosphere.

“It’s definitely more of a fun and friendly environment,” Parker said. “Although there’s also still a fun rivalry between teams.”

The women’s Nordic team is comprised of all seniors, Bronga, Hiemer, and Rombach. Bronga and Rombach have been to the Championships three times before while this is only Hiemer’s third appearance.

Ebner, Molgaard-Nielsen, and Zeni make up the men’s Nordic team. For Ebner this will be his second appearance at the NCAA Championships and he will be competing with a broken wrist after a fall in training a couple weeks ago according to Coach Anderson.

The NCAA Championships will be held in Bozeman, Montana, at the same venues the RMISA Championships were held Feb. 24-25. At the RMISA Championships, UAA placed sixth as a team, collecting five top-15 finishes in the final four races. This offers a little bit of help in preparation for the NCAA’s but not much according to Adde.

“That always helps because you get used to the hill, its not the first time racing there and you can prepare for how the snow’s going to be,” Adde said. “But you never know how the course is going to be.”

Last year, the RMISA Championships were held in Park City, Utah, while the NCAA Championships were held in Stowe, Vermont.

The Alpine events will happen at Bridger Bowl, March 8 and March 10. The Nordic races will take place a Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center, March 7 and 9.