Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Today, Casey maintained her status as the only two-award athlete at these NCAA Championships. In addition to the Nerd Award she got last night for her academics, today she became an NCAA All-American with her 10th place finish in the 5km skate race. Skippy's on a roll these days.

The snow and weather here were perfect for racing today. More nordic racing will happen on Friday with the classic mass start event. Tomorrow it's giant slalom at Mt Mansfield. 

Andrew and Marine. Ski testing.

Toom Kollo.  Racing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Seawolves Early Leader at NCAA's!

It's Day 0 at the NCAA's here in Vermont, and UAA has already won the only award given out so far at this year's championships.  Thanks to Casey Wright, we're the early leaders in the medal count!

I know the photo is kind of shaky, but things were a bit frantic at this moment. Casey had just given her acceptance speech, and thanked her volunteer assistant coaches, and shaken the hands of the assembled dignitaries, and the press was rushing the stage to get the shot. The Blog's photojournalist got stuck behind some traffic and had to take this behind-the-back shot while running sideways. But you get the general feel of the moment.
Casey won the Elite 90 Award. It's pretty much the best award you can get. It's given out to the best scholar-athlete at each NCAA championship event. (There are 90 championships.) This award goes to the skier with the best GPA in the country who's at the national championships. Casey's got a 4.0 GPA, which is pretty tough to beat. It's not easy to get a 4.0 GPA in college. It's not easy to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Combining the two feats is even less easy.

Here's a better look at Casey's new hardware.  And her teammates Georgia and Li. And Sky.

Skippy, Quail and Anna. They'll be skating 5km tomorrow morning. They're ready.
Congratulations, Casey!

Ski racing begins tomorrow.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Seawolf NCAA Spectator Guide

It's the week we've all been preparing for - NCAA Week! This go-round will take place in Stowe, Vermont. And just like every year the journalists, staff, employees, interns and Board of Directors of the UAA Ski Team Blog have prepared for you a preview of this year's Seawolf NCAA team.  Here's our entire crew, in no particular order:

Morten Kjerland, Volunteer Assistant Coach Alpine

Casey Wright - Cross Country

Liam Wallace - Alpine

Adam Verrier - Volunteer Assistant Coach Cross Country

Sigurd Rönning - Cross Country

Andrew Kastning - Coach Cross Country

Anna Darnell - Cross Country
Anna Berecz - Assistant Coach Alpine

JC Schoonmaker - Cross Country

Sparky Anderson - Head Coach / Alpine Coach

Georgia Burgess - Alpine

Michaela Keller-Miller - Cross Country

Marine Dusser - Assistant Coach Cross Country

Toomas Kollo - Cross Country

Sky Kelsey - Alpine

Li Djurestål - Alpine

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


The bad news is that Assistant Coach Marine slipped and fell on some ice in a parking lot in Anchorage, hurt her back, and was unable to go on the team’s trip to Red River for the University of New Mexico invitational.  The good news is that her back is feeling better every day, she’s able to ski with the athletes who didn’t go to New Mexico, and it looks like she’s well on her way to a fast and full recovery. 

Andrew, at his desk job.
I got the phone call from Andrew as I was making arrangements for a week’s worth of travel for my day job, asking if I could be available to show up at the airport the following morning to fill in for Marine, who wouldn’t be able to make it.  I had unbreakable work travel obligations on the day the team flew to New Mexico, but I flew down the following day, hitching a ride from Albuquerque to Red River with the University of Alaska Fairbanks team and arriving at the UAA team house in the middle of the night.  Thank you, Nanooks, for the sweet ride – and the burrito!

The Nanooks gave me a burrito and a ride to Red River. Anja, Hannah and Kirsys
We always like racing in Red River.  It’s almost always sunny, the ski trails are pretty, and the racing is tough but low-key with a unique New Mexican flavor. The racing trails are pretty high up in the thin air – just slightly below 10,000 feet. This makes for a tactical challenge because you simply cannot afford to go “anaerobic” until the final few minutes of the race because at this altitude it’s not possible to recover quickly. Racing here, there are always some unexpected results, both positive and negative.  Years ago, for example UAA’s Paul Schauer won this race, while sick, during a season in which he didn’t finish within the top ten otherwise. And there are always a few skiers who are typically on the RMISA podium but push a little too hard on the first lap and find themselves stumbling around the second lap, just trying to crawl their way to the finish line.

Quail in the start gate
Sigurd raced an excellent first (interval-start) classic race.  He was in around fifth place early in the race, but then moved into second, according to our splits, and eventually into the lead. Problem was, Alvar Alev from University of Colorado skied a better race. He started out slower than Siggi, but even as Siggi was moving up through the field, Alvar was moving faster. He skied ten seconds faster than Sigurd on the final lap, going from four seconds behind him to six seconds in front.  Nevertheless, Siggi, with his second place finish reclaims the position as the yellow jersey wearer in classic. He needs to shore up his skating in Anchorage, though, if he wants to be the RMISA MVP this year. His 11th place on Saturday didn’t do him any favors.





Sigurd finished second in the classic race. Alvar stole the handle off Siggi's flag and added it onto his own, making Siggi's flag too short, and Alvar's too long.

The second race was a "patrol start" skate race. Each team started together, giving them an opportunity to work together, if feasible.

Here's Austin on a downhill

The boys, talking it out afterwards

Jenna, Quail and Anna at the start

Jenna underway

Jenna, Michaela, Anna

We had enough time after our race to get up the hill to see a few of our alpiners in action.

Lobo coaches Christian Otto and Aljaz Praznik. They're both recent graduates at New Mexico and they put on a great set of races this weekend. The University of New Mexico Ski Team is slated to be cut at the end of this season. The Lobos have been battling this situation for the past couple of years. Last week, a New Mexico legislator advanced a bill allocating funding directly for the UNM Ski Team and soccer team.  There's a big hearing on the proposal on February 9.  If you're so inclined, you might want to make your voice heard; the Lobos can use all the help they can get!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Big Ski Country

The Seawolf situation continues to look positive at the conclusion of last week's MSU Invitational.  Our skiers are getting RMISA results that they've never achieved before. Anna scored a fifth and a sixth. Jenna has had a ninth and a tenth. Michaela has had a ninth and an eleventh. All of them have prior RMISA experience, but none have ever placed among the top ten before. And in my opinion, it's because they're taking the time to analyze and acknowledge the specific weaknesses in their skiing and apply conscious, significant adjustments during these recent RMISA races. These are the types of scenarios that really make coaching fun and satisfying!

Toomas was fourth in Montana, his best RMISA result ever. Siggi and JC are new to the circuit, but Siggi won a race and JC got an eleventh - a good start.  We have good momentum now.  The key will be to keep making these types of improvements as the racing season progresses.

Raw data (result lists, etc) can be abstract and confusing to the layperson. This graph clearly illustrates the trend of gradually improving Seawolf results described in the paragraphs above.  From the past until now, the results follow a linear trend of gradual improvement. Future Seawolf results may continue to improve along the present linear path, or they may improve or worsen precipitously, as described by the three hypothetical (dotted) lines shown. 

A little late, but better than never, here are a few photos from the conclusion of our recent road trip, from Steamboat Springs for the University of Colorado Invitational to Bozeman for the Montana State University Invitational.

We made a lunch stop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And we took this photo.

We didn't take Route 249, in case you're wondering.  We took Route 287.

The skiing conditions were just about right. 

A core strength session in the hotel hallway.

Race morning ski preparation.


Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck



Start of the womens' race. (That's not a cloud in the photo; that's the smoke from the starter's 12-gauge shotgun.)

Siggi wearing the RMISA leader's bib in Montana. Is he still in the leader's bib this weekend in New Mexico?  No.  Can he get it back? Yes. Will he get it back this weekend?  I don't know. I guess that's up to Siggi.