Friday, January 20, 2017

It Was Pretty Cold At Practice Today

About negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit at Kincaid Park.

Taking a quick drink break mid-workout

Zacke, Andrew, Pietro

There's still no warmth in the sun at noon, but in just a few weeks we'll start to be able to feel the warmth of the sun again!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I know you think Freshman Natalie is some kind of superskier because she was raised on the muddy banks of the Yukon River and because she qualified last week to represent Canadia (again) at the World Junior Championships. And of course you're right. She is. 

But it hasn't always been this way. There was a time when Natalie used to fall down just like you and me. A time when she didn't use ski poles because she didn't know how. 

For example, in this picture, which one do you think is Natalie? The one standing up?  You might think so, but Natalie is actually the one crashed out in the tracks. Her friend would have passed her and kept going, but she's also Canadian. Thus, she's too polite to pass. She'll just wait patiently until Natalie gets up and then they'll apologize to each other before continuing on.

(In case you were wondering, this is another in the "Name the Seawolf" contest series, but naming the Seawolves was obviously too difficult because thus far nobody has been able to name a single Seawolf (as evidenced by the complete lack of any guesses in the comment section). So now I'm just naming the Seawolves myself.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Relay Recon

Skippy, Tommy and The Von probably won't believe this (because they've only experienced one winter in Alaska and it was a no-snow disaster) but we're having a normal winter weather-wise. After the past couple of miserable winters, the past week has felt like being transported back in time to the good old days when it used to snow around here. It's been wonderful!

The UAA Ski Team returned from Montana this evening, and I bet they were psyched to see the snow when they landed at Anchorage International. I spent the afternoon in Girdwood, doing reconnaissance of next month's Seawolf RMISA race course. 

Kincaid Park


The Anchorage Hillside

Girdwood - site of next month's Seawolf college relay
The snow stake said there is 3.5 feet of snow.

I didn't know what was about to hit me...

I think some snow went down my collar.

Upper Moose Meadows in Girdwood

The meadows.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

World War Three

The UAA Ski Team has spent the past week racing in the Utah Invitational college ski races, which also happened to be the US National Championships. Thus, the races served as the qualifying races for big international ski races like the World Ski Championships, the World Junior Championships, the World Under-23 Championships and a high-level racing opportunity in Norway for juniors in the Under-18 age class.

When the dust settled, we found out that half our UAA women's team will be heading back to Soldier Hollow in a few weeks for some championship racing. They may be teammates here on the UAA Ski Team, but they'll be at each other's throats at the World Championships because they're all racing for different countries.

Hailey Swirbul qualified to race for the USA in the World Junior Championships. This won't be her first time. She raced in the World Juniors two years ago in Kazakhstan.

Natalie Hynes will be representing Canadia at World Juniors. This won't be her first time either. She raced at World Juniors last year in Romania. You can hear an interview she did this week with someone from Canadia (I could tell by the way the interviewer said "been" and "again") here at this link.

Casey Wright will be racing for Australia in the Under-23 World Championships. This will be her first time at U-23s, but definitely not her first big championships. Long before she first laid eyes on Alaska, she'd been traveling around the world racing at multiple World Juniors in Italy and the Czech Republic, World University Games in Italy and even the adult World Championships in Sweden. So this will be nothing new for Casey. Here she is with her brother Abe, who was also in Utah last week. Did Abe race?  Did he qualify for something?  I haven't the slightest idea and it's not my job to find out. This is the UAA Ski Team Blog, not the Wright Family Blog.
Additionally, Andrew has been selected as one of the coaches for the US Under-18 team that'll be doing some racing at the Knyken racing trails near Orkanger, Norway. You can read all about the event here and here.
Here's coach Andrew Kastning with some of the Alaskans whom he'll be guiding around Norway later this month. (That's Molly Gellert, Gus Schumacher, Canyon Tobin and Luke Jager.) By all accounts, this is a great group of kids, which should give Andrew a nice break from the shenanigans he has to put up with around here on this team.

Natalie, Skippy and Hailey. Championship-bound.

Note: Former UAA Seawolf Lasse Moelgaard-Nielsen will also be in Utah, coaching the Danish team at World Juniors. He claims that the Danish team will not have any women there, which will allow him to cheer for our UAA skiers on the final big hill in Soldier Hollow. My advice to our Seawolves is do what Lasse says! He skied the last two kilometers of the 2011 RMISA Championships as well as anyone's ever skied two kilometers of any ski race and wound up second behind his teammate Lukas. If you do it the way Lasse did on that day, you'll be doing it right!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

From Wisconsin With Class

If you're familiar with the 2007-2008 UAA Ski Team, you'll be glad you checked the blog today.

Kyle in 2008
Kyle in 2016

Also 2016
Kyle today

Friday, January 6, 2017


I'll admit I don't know Hailey that well yet. She's only been in Alaska for a few months. I've missed a lot of UAA Ski Team training sessions this fall due to my rigorous vacation and leisure schedule. And we haven't gone on any road trips together yet. But from my interactions with Hailey thus far, I am getting the impression she is someone who dives fully into her chosen vocation. It seems to me she either commits fully to the thing that she's into, or she doesn't bother wasting any time with it. Maybe I'm wrong about this. But this is my impression so far. 

For one thing, Hailey's got herself a 4.0 GPA in the classroom (like many others on this team). That requires full engagement. Congratulations, Hailey!

(I don't know every ski pole on the market, but I'd recognize those poles anywhere. Those are Kermas with "corrective angle". You don't use Kerma corrective angle poles if you're not serious about your skiing. Classic ski poles for a classic ski jump: the timeless "spread eagle".)
She's way into it now, but Hailey hated cross-country skiing when she was growing up. So there are no photos of her using the misery sticks when she was a young child. But that's not surprising when you consider that Hailey's from Aspen, Colorado. Aspen is famous for its alpine skiing, and home to one of the most iconic ski hills in the USA. It's not the kind of place to look if you're looking for cross-country skiers, so Hailey's kind of an anomaly. (It should be noted here that the best distance skier in America, Noah Hoffman, is from Aspen. And America's best sprinter, Simi Hamilton, is also from Aspen. So it could be argued that the best XC skiers in the USA are from Aspen, Colorado.) 

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Skiwolves have got all four hemispheres covered today in the news, as Sadie Bjornsen ('09) finished third in today's Tour de Ski stage in Italy, and everyone in Australia is talking about all the things they didn't (but now do) know about our Skippy.

(Click the photos for the links)

Image result for sadie bjornsen

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Land of Champagne Powder

There's a gold star for any freshman skier except Hailey who can figure out where I went skiing yesterday.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rocky Mountain High

If you know this Seawolf as well as I do, then you know what he's thinking in this photo. He's thinking: "I'm not sure what the story is with the curve on the end of this baseball bat, but I think I'll be able to lay down a pretty good bunt with this thing."

Nothing warms my heart like a family spending a day together on Atomic skis. Not sure where this picture was taken?  Check the mountain in the background. There aren't many places in the world with those aspen groves and high alpine meadows.

In the intense springtime sun where this Seawolf grew up, he needed a good pair of sunglasses to avoid scorching his retinas.

Always fired up to go skiing. Nothing has changed.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Everyone who's remotely familiar with us knows that the men of the UAA Ski Team are men of leisure. We are men of style. We are ladies' men. When we drink, we drink cognac. When we smoke, we only smoke the finest Cuban cigars. And when we're not out skiing, we're usually dressed in a bathrobe.

Team strategy is planned here. Coaches Tor and Andrew.

Kjetil Dammen ('05) in his inimitable apres-ski style.

When Andrew asks me to prepare the team's skis for a classic workout when we're on the road, I prefer to do so in comfort.

We have a new freshman on our team. When we asked for a picture of him skiing, we got this. I think he's going to feel right at home here.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In Olden Tymes

This photo must have been taken a very long time ago because those skis look like something that you'd expect to see melting out of a Swiss glacier with a dead caveman. And these poles aren't bamboo. They're pre-bamboo, from an ancient time before bamboo was invented. You don't see baskets made of oak every day.

Are those Lovett skis?  You don't see those every day. Looks like red was this Skiwolf's favorite color before he discovered green and gold.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Peter Pan

This being a Name-the-Skiwolf contest and all (with the possibility of huge prizes for the winners) we don't want to make naming the Skiwolf too easy. That's why we intentionally blurred this photograph using the latest photo-blurring software being used by NASA and the CIA so that you wouldn't be able to read the names of the sponsors on the racing bib and easily figure out who this is. I can give you this hint, however: the photo definitely was not taken in March.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Skiwolf Challenge

This one's not so easy.  
You might need some help figuring out who this is.
So let's work through it together.

Let's see... ski safety straps. Those went out of circulation for good in about 1992.  Those Rossis with the opaque topsheets were an early/mid-80's ski, but they stayed in circulation in the rental fleets of  small, low-vertical local ski areas for at least another 10 years. And bindings with no heel release?  Again, you wouldn't see them at Vail, but maybe at a ski hill in dairy country...? Yellow coordinated ski outfits and parkas with hearts? I know where you could find a lot of those in years gone by. And isn't that leather on the palms of those mittens?  I'm not 100% sure, but I think so. And what do you need leather palms for on your mittens?  For rope tows. Nothing but leather will last more than one afternoon on a rope tow. OK, let's move on...

Sliding glass door to the back deck, and aluminum siding. They don't build houses that way in Sweden or Switzerland. Same mittens as in the previous picture by the look of it, so maybe they weren't leather after all. Bamboo poles. 3-pin bindings. This photo wasn't taken within the past 20 years...

Not a ton of snow on the ground. No huge mountains in sight... Who is it?