The UAA alpine skiers already had the luxury of a home meet this season, but now it was the Nordic team’s chance.
The Seawolves only get to experience a home meet every two years, and this just so happens to be the fortunate year. UAA already hosted the first portion of the meet between Jan. 25 and 28 in Girdwood, where alpine skiers from various Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association schools gathered and raced at Alyeska, but now, Nordic gets to enjoy the meets in either Kincaid Park or again at Girdwood.
The Nordic RMISA team’s now continued in the UAA and Seawolf Invitationals. The Alpine team finished those meets overall at sixth place in both.
The UAA Nordic team has a huge difference compared to the alpine team being that the Nordic team increased in numbers by the addition of new freshman, but after getting the hang of things, the freshmen are a huge advantage.
Teammate junior Martins Onskulis on alpine didn’t have the addition of many freshmen to his side but knows how beneficial it is.
“Nordic side has a lot of new faces this year… in [the] long run they have potential with such a young skiers. They are inexperienced and they still have to get stronger to compete with other top schools, but I believe if not this season, then next year for sure they will be in top shape to bring some good results back home,” Onskulls said.
As the season is progressing, the Nordic freshmen are getting the experience they need to excel.
Seawolf Invitational, February 7 and 8
The third day of the Seawolf Invite picked back up on Tuesday, Feb. 7 with the freestyle sprints at Kincaid. Starting off with 190 points in sixth place, the Seawolves were considerably behind Utah in first with 311.
The women’s team did impressively well, with a standout performance from junior Casey Wright who was the only one to place in the top-5 for the day and a season-high score of 73 points total in the freestyle sprint.
Wright secured a fourth place finish after making it past the quarterfinal and semifinal heats and into the finals. In addition, freshman Hannah Rudd and sophomore Sadia Fox placed in the top-15, at eighth and 13th, respectively.
On the men’s side, there was only one top-15 finish in contrast to the women’s three. Freshman Zackarias Toresson just got by at 15th, while sophomore Toomas Kollo followed at 17th and freshman Pietro Mosconi trailed in at 30th.
After the first day for the Nordic teams, the Seawolves position still didn’t budge, keeping them at 6th in the Seawolf Invite, with now 308 trailing after first place’s 510. Day two, on Wednesday, Feb. 9, didn’t lead the Seawolves any closer to first place Utah but extended their score to miss fifth place by just 29 points.
Moving the races from Kincaid to Girdwood, the teams competed in mixed-gender relays to conclude the Seawolf Invite. The relays consisted of two men and two women, each completing five kilometers. Overall the Seawolves finished fourth with 127 points.
However, the Seawolves did have a relay team in the top-5. Consisting of Kollo, Toresson, Hailey Swirbul and Wright, who finished in 1 hour and 12 seconds.
In addition, UAA also competed with a second team containing sophomore Marcus Deuling, Mosconi, Rudd and freshman Natalie Hynes. Only two and a half minutes behind the first team, they finished in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 46 seconds, placing 9th.
The Seawolf Nordic team yielded many individual personal records and overall top finishes throughout the course of this meet.
The team, as well as the coaching staff, are so far pleased.
“We’re real happy, we got a bunch of top ten results and some surprises [as well],” head coach Sparky Anderson said.
UAA Nordic finished off the Seawolf Invite, but they weren’t done quite yet. The following weekend gave them the opportunity to finish off the second meet both days at Kincaid.
UAA Invitational, February 11 and 12
After several days rest, the Seawolves picked back up and got back into action for two back-to-back days of the UAA Invitational.
Both the UAA men’s and women’s team excelled significantly in the first of the two days. With a tie for their previous high team score, the women finished the day off with 73 points that secured them in at second place overall in the 5K classical.
With three women in the top-15, the Seawolves even had a top-5 finish. Wright, similar to her freestyle sprint in the Seawolf Invite, placed fourth overall, being UAA’s top women scorer. Behind her came Hynes at seventh (16:27.2) and Swirbul at 12th (16:49.6).
On the men’s side, in the 10K, they finished fifth with 54 points. Similar to the women, they had two scorers in the top-15 with an additional in the top-20. Toresson came in at the top for UAA at 11th (28:51.2), followed by Kollo at 14th and Deuling at 17th.
After day one, the Seawolves sat at sixth overall with 333 points, only 15 points behind No. 5 Montana State.
UAA competed in the second day of the Seawolf Invite on Sunday, with the 15K and 20K classic.
With the end to the luxury of competing in Alaska, both the alpine and Nordic teams had several challenges to get passed but overall had numerous impressive personal performances, all after the above-average snowfall seen in January.
“We’ve got a little bit more time on the snow than the last years, winter had returned to Alaska,” Anderson said.
The skiers will be back in action at the RMISA/NCAA West Regional Championships in Colorado on Feb. 24 and 25.