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 for the second season in a row.
UAF ended the tournament with a 79-47 win over UAA.
“We always lose to Fairbanks pre-season, but then we come back in March and win. I think it has something to do with how we train,” Head Coach Trond Flagstad said. “We just use the Nordic cup as training.”
Freshman male Nordic skier, Erik Bjornsen of Winthrop Washington, lead the ‘Wolves throughout the tournament. On day one of the Alaska Nordic Cup, Bjornsen came in fourth with a time of 7:19.3.
Before UAA, Bjornsen was a three-time junior national champion and came in 21st place in worlds. He was ranked first for North America.
“Erik Bjornsen looks like one of our strongest. He did very well in Fairbanks,” Flagstad said.
On day one of the Nordic Cup, Bjornsen was followed by freshman Martin Kapso, of Kremnica Slovakia, who ended the 3k race at 7:32.2. In sixth was UAA athlete from Frutwangen, Germany, Lukas Ebner who posted a time of 7:33.3.
By day two of the series, UAA trailed the Nanooks 55-29 despite Bjornsen’s first place victory in the 8k race.
Bjornsen finished day three, a 10k race, in first place but it wasn’t quite enough to take the tournament for the ‘Wolves.
Kapso came in fifth (30:48.5) and Ebner finished in ninth (31:06.3).
“We have a lot of newcomers on our team, its hard to say who the leader will be,” Flagstad said. “They will definitely have a huge impact on our team.”
On the women’s side, day one junior Steffi Hiermer of Kruen, Germany came in fourth with a time of 7:56.6. Teammates junior Laura Rombach and freshman Marit Ulsund took respective fifth and sixth place finishes.
All-American junior and East High graduate Jaime Bronga, sat out on day one due to acute stomach pain, but was back by day two and had a respectable third place finish in the 6k race.
Hiemer finished fourth in day two, and in sixth was teammate junior Laura Rombach.
On the women’s final day of racing in the 5k race, Hiemer finished in second with a time of 16:52.4. In fourth was Seawolf Marit Ulsund with a time of 16:59.6. Rombach finished in sixth at 17:10.6.
“Marit looks like she will be on top for our women,” Flagstad said.
The team trained hard over the summer, according to Flagstad.
“The summer training really does impact the season, they need to train hard on their own,” Flagstad said.
The most important part of training is the environment according to Flagstad. “Happy skiers are fast skiers,” Flagstad said.
The UAA ski team has had a rough beginning this fall, due to four people breaking bones in their wrists and hands. Flagstad was quick to reassure, “It won’t affect our season, we are still training.”
The ski team will be competing in local races this December as a part of training according to Flagstad. The Nordic team will be competing on the 18th and 19th and the Alpine team will be competing at Alyeska on the 11th and 12th.
“The pre-Christmas races are just tune ups,” Flagstad said.