On Oct. 16, Marine Dusser was officially introduced as the newest member of UAA’s coaching staff. Dusser, originally from Villard de Lans in France, is familiar with Alaska and the Seawolves. She competed for two consecutive seasons from 2012-2014.
Andrew Kastning, associate coach for Nordic skiing, recruited Dusser during his first year at UAA back in 2012 and was excitement to have her return as his colleague.
“Marine had a very successful career as a Seawolf skier, and I’m excited to have her join our coaching staff,” Kastning said. “She will bring fresh perspectives to our training and race preparation having recently finished her ski racing career. She is also in very good shape having won the Government Peak and Knoya Ridge runs this past summer so she should be able to push our athletes during the hard trainings.”
Before joining UAA, Dusser competed for the French National Biathlon Team for seven years. During her career, she represented France at the Junior Olympic Games, Biathlon Junior World Championships, Biathlon European Championships and several Biathlon World Cups. Biathlon combines cross-country ski racing with shooting a 0.22 Long Rifle.
In 2012, Dusser retired from the biathlon sport and decided to join UAA’s Nordic ski team. Only having competed in freestyle ski races before coming to UAA, she was skeptical of her classic skiing skills. But Dusser soon proved her athletic ability and exceptional body awareness as Adam Verrier, volunteer Nordic coach, recalls.
“During a practice at the Hillside trails, Andrew told Marine, ‘We want you to change your classic technique. It’s a little complex and difficult, so we can keep working on it throughout the winter.’ Marine gave it a try and executing exactly what Andrew had explained,” Verrier said. “After Marine skied off, having changed her technique significantly in the space of about two minutes, Andrew looked at me and said, ‘Well… I guess that was easy.’ It still makes me laugh every time I think of that moment.”
Shortly after arriving at UAA, Dusser became the women team’s most valuable Nordic skier. During her rookie campaign, she collected two All-American honors, finishing third in the classical and freestyle races at the NCAA Championship meet in Vermont. With the help of her strong finishes, Dusser led the Seawolves to a seventh-place team result and earned MVP honors.
During her second season representing the Green and Gold, Dusser earned her third All-American finishing ninth in the freestyle race at the NCAAs. Additionally, Dusser collected several podium finishes, conference honors by the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association and experiences that made her seek to return to the 49th state.
While attending UAA, Dusser earned a bachelor’s degree in management and later earned a master’s degree in management from Grenoble Business School. She returned to France after running out of collegiate eligibility. There she started working for Rossignol Apparel SAS as a marketing manager. She was in charge of the Nordic apparel and created a team costume line.
Her boyfriend, her love for the outdoors and Nordic skiing drew her back to Alaska.
“Erik [Bjornson] and I have been dating since I first came to Alaska and it was hard to spend time traveling back and forth to see him. We were ready to build our life together – in Alaska,” Dusser said. “He is on the U.S. ski team and we think Alaska is one of the best, if not the best, place for Nordic training. So, we decided to live here together and when I saw that UAA was looking for a new assistant coach, I was very excited about the opportunity to start working here.”
Dusser realized her passion for coaching a couple years ago while working for the Anchorage Biathlon Club and the NANA Development Corporation as a Nordic ski coach.
“I love coaching. I actually realized that I like it even more than being an athlete,” Dusser said. “As a coach, you have the opportunity to be a mentor, a teacher and a role model to your athletes – and I like that. I want to give my athletes the tools to get better and help them improve.”
Dusser’s passion for coaching and her incredible knowledge of the various aspects of Nordic skiing, including her strong instinct for the right grind fitting the snow conditions of the day, will enable UAA’s Nordic ski team to reach a new level of success.
“I loved being part of the UAA ski team. Those were the best years of my skiing career and now I want to share my experience to make the ski team stronger,” Dusser said.
Dusser will make her official coaching debut during the Alaska Nordic Cup at Hatcher Pass on Nov. 17-18.