Thursday, February 28, 2013

UAA's NCAA team is named

Getting straight to the point, UAA's NCAA team members include:
Patricia Sprecher
Karina Smith
Marine Dusser
Lasse Moelgaard-Nielsen
Lukas Ebner
Viktor Braennmark
Vanessa Berther
Kayla Hoog-Fry
Anna Berecz
Niko Harmanen
Cedric Gagnon-Ratelle
Andreas Adde

Coaches are:
Sparky Anderson
Danielle Shannon
Andrew Kastning
Tor Christopherson
Adam Verrier

More salacious details later...
UAA team training:  2/27/2013; Russian Jack Springs Park

On Kodiak Island, people don't usually try to land on this runway from the other direction.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meanwhile in Tesero...

Lasse is the best-dressed skier in Italy this week.  See for yourself:

If it's video you prefer, go to minute 9:00 of this YouTube selection to see Lasse wearing bib 85 and Martin Kapso wearing bib 87:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This isn't Radio Clash

Are you like me?  Do you love listening to the radio?  Do you feel like something is missing whenever there is not a radio blaring in your general vicinity?  Do you wish speakers were installed in the trees at your local ski trail just so you could listen to radio talk shows while getting a workout, and keep up with everything going on in the world, all the time, and not miss anything - ever?  Well, here's the next best thing:  You can click on the link below and listen to me and a few other people jabber on and on for an hour on the radio about our ski trails here in southcentral Alaska.  And you won't even have to listen too hard to hear references to the UAA Ski Team, because I mentioned the team, like, three times or something:

World Championships Start Tomorrow

Lasse is in Val di Fiemme, and ready for the World Championships, which start tomorrow.  You can follow his progress at  And don't forget to watch for other former UAA athletes at the World Champs: Sadie Bjornsen (2009), Erik Bjornsen (2011), and Martin Kapšo(2011).  The start list for tomorrow's sprint race is here:

Lasse - dressed impeccably as usual

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Big Sky Country

In about five hours, the team leaves Anchorage on a jet bound for Bozeman Montana, to compete in the RMISA western region championships. This will be the last Western college race of the season; after this weekend, the only college race remaining is the NCAA national championships.

In the meantime, Lasse is in Italy getting ready for the World Championships. The only thing we ask is that Lasse stay away from Nevio until AFTER the races are over.

In the meantime, I flew out to some villages along the Bering Sea coastline yesterday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Le Tricheur

We race a lot at high altitude, where even when you're going really hard, you're often not going very fast.  So we try to practice skiing fast when we get the chance. Today, we did a few sprints:
Davis, Viktor, Etienne

Marine, Karina, Tor

Here's what Etienne's thinking:  "Tabernacle!! Je me fais niker par le coach la, c'est vraiment de la merde!!! the way, if this wasn't supposed to be a "classic" workout, a little V2 skate action would be pretty sweet right about now.... and the coach can't see me since he's busy up there kicking my ass, so......"

"......why not?"

Busted!!! What Etienne failed to recognize is this is exactly the reason the Head Coach keeps a volunteer assistant coach around - to whistle-blow this kind of thing.

Downhill Racer

Cross-country skiers spend most of their time going uphill. I once heard someone say that 80% of a racer's time on course is spent on the uphills. Who knows if he had any basis for saying that, but we were in Norway at the time so I probably just assumed he knew what he was talking about. And besides, I've got better things to do with my time than to spend it fact-checking stuff like that. Anyway, that still leaves 20%. And that time has to be spent getting back downhill to where you started. The faster you can get downhill, the more you can slack off on the uphills and still keep up with your friends. So on Wednesday, we practiced our downhilling and corning skills, and we had our annual downhill time trial. To get to the downhill, we had to go uphill, so we did a lot of climbing on Wednesday. And just to spice it up, we threw in some team sprints during the climb.
Pati coming past the group on an uphill sprint.

Marine leading the group.

Coach Andrew leading through the slalom course.

Etienne arcing one out. This is what alpine coach Sparky calls "SENDING IT!"
(FRANCE OUT) Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany competes during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's SuperG on February 26, 2012 in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Etienne Richard? Is that you? Put this picture next to the one above it and see if you can find any difference.  I can't.

"Shin to win, Galen!" You think the coaches' job is to pick up your shinned-off pin flags?! Back when I was in high school, we called this "getting transfer".  Ask me what it means and I'll explain.

Chuck the Ski Club Groomer offered to groom the trail in front of  us for each lap we did.  We were much obliged.

Brandon leaves the starting gate on the signal from Tor.

Do you think Viktor wanted to win the downhill time trial?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

He's not really superstitious

I love reading! I'm bonkers for books and nutty about novels!  Wherever you find me, you'll find a book nearby. I get a little panicky if I'm not surrounded by reading materials.  I can turn pretty much any item smaller than a ham sandwich into a bookmark. If it wasn't for cross-country skiing, I'd probably never leave the library. And there's nothing I love to read more than a good college newspaper. That's why when I woke up this morning on Kodiak Island, the first thing I did was walk down to the local 7-Eleven to buy a copy of this week's Northern Light, UAA's student newspaper of record. Mostly, I only buy the Northern Light for its photo spreads, but this week there was also a fascinating interview with Lucky, so I read that as well. You can read it, too - here:

Majoring in finance?  No.  Majoring in cool.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Skier o' th' Week...

...Marine Dusser!  You can check out all the details here:

Marine has been on the podium every weekend so far this year, and her best result yet was this past weekend in a classic race - 2.5 seconds behind the winner in an individual-start event. Coming from a biathlon background, she admitted feeling a little "lost" in her first couple of classic races earlier in the winter, but apparently someone told her that she'd find her groove right around her sixth race, and that's what she did in Utah this past weekend, with a second place in the classic race and then a third in the skate race.  Marine hasn't won a college race yet, but she's very frequently only seconds behind the winner.  The biggest races are yet to come, and Marine has proven, weekend after weekend, that she is in the hunt for the win in any college race she enters. 

Congratulations to Marine Dusser - this week's Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association "Skier of the Week"!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

World Championships in Italy - Part II

Thank you to Lasse for his correction of an obvious error in my previous blog post.  Former UAA skier Sadie Bjornsen will, of course, be racing at the World Championships, too. My omission of Sadie happened because she's been having so much success over the past few years, winning World Cup medals, etc, that I guess I now associate her more with the US Ski Team than I do with UAA. So that makes at least four former Seawolves racing in Val di Fiemme, and one partying.  Anyone else I missed?

Friday, February 8, 2013

UAA Reunion at World Championships in Italy

Is there any American college team with more skiers at this year's Nordic World Championships than the UAA Ski Team?  (This is not a rhetorical question; I'm too lazy to do the research, so tell me the answer if you know.)  The 2011 UAA team is going to be very well-represented in Val di Fiemme: Lasse will be there. He's going to skip the RMISA Championships in Bozeman and will race at the World Championships instead, before coming back to the USA again for the NCAA Championships in Vermont in March. Lasse's teammate from 2011, Erik Bjornsen, has been one of the top American skiers this year and will be racing at the World Champs. And earlier this week, Martin Kapšo (2011) won the Slovakian national championships, which means he'll also be at the World Championships. Check out the details here: (If you don't speak Slovakian, I'll translate for you:  "šprint klasickou technikou" means "sprint classic technique" ...You're welcome.)  UAA even has it's own local fanclub. It's called Nevio Zeni.  And if I hear that Nevio isn't out there at Lago di Tesero in a Seawolf outfit with a boombox and a bottle of grappa, screaming his lungs out, making a nuisance of himself and flirting with ejection from the venue, I'll be very disappointed.
But it's not all about the World Championships:  Kjetil Dammen (UAA 2005-2006) was in Val di Fiemme recently, racing as a professional in the Marcialonga race for his team, United Bakeries.  He was fifth in the Marcialonga, and last weekend he was fourth in the Kønig Ludwig Lauf. Congratulations "BraDammen"!
Most Interesting Man in the World?  You decide.

Back in the saddle

The team wanted to show themselves that last weekend's mediocre showing in New Mexico was the product of 2,500 grueling miles of overnight travel and a sudden decrease in atmospheric pressure.  They were quite confident that New Mexico was an anomaly, but of course there's always that little bit of doubt...
Typical Patricia. ...and Viktor.

Today, they put any doubts to rest.  Back down in the thick air that resides just below the FIS altitude limit, the team felt at home again, and were able to get back to the business of skiing fast.  The women won today's race with Marine 2.5 seconds out of the lead in the individual-start race in second. Pati had her best race yet, in fourth. And Karina was our third point-scorer in seventeenth.  The UAA men were third overall, with Lukas leading the team in fifth.  Viktor succeeded in having similar lap times on both trips around the 5k loop, and that earned him his best finish of the year so far, in seventh.  And Lasse was our third point-scorer in twelfth. Tomorrow, it's all about the mass-start skating action.
One of Assistant Coach Tor's grueling ski-trail rave dance-off workouts. Hour three: only Sarah and Davis can still hold their groove.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sunny Skies

I woke up here on Kodiak Island this morning and flipped on the television as I always do, to see what's going on in the world of sports in various places around the world.  I found this coverage of Denmark's Olympic preparation interesting, so I'm providing a link to it here.  I'm not sure why they didn't bother to ask me for any training video of Lasse; DR knows I've got plenty of footage.
Don't speak Danish?  Hvorfor ikke? Hvad venter du på?!!/01:35

The UAA Ski Team has put the final road miles behind them on their longest road-trip of the season, and are in Utah in advance of their second-to-last weekend of RMISA racing - at Soldier Hollow. While we've been getting some snow here in Alaska, it's been sunny and warm along the route for the team.

The view from the van.

Q: Are these boys from Alaska?  A:  Yes.  (Want to know how I can tell?)
...and Viktor thought he wouldn't see another spark again until Sweden.

...yeah, I don't know either.
Results for this weekends races will be available here (live):


Monday, February 4, 2013

Fairbanks Besh Cup Results

So now it's official:  Sarah and Brandon have qualified themselves to compete for Team Alaska at the US junior national championships to be held in mid-March in Fairbanks.  Sarah qualified by way of her strong showing in the junior girls' competition at the US Nationals last month in Utah, while Brandon qualified through the Besh Cup qualifying series, which concluded this past weekend in Fairbanks.  Brandon finished off the series with two strong races, finishing third in the junior category both days. Whether one or both of them compete at NCAA's is a different question, but by qualifying for Junior Nationals, they both have that door open to the them now. 

Meanwhile, Etienne came back with a stronger race on Sunday in Fairbanks than he had on Saturday, where he was 11th overall.  In the 10km mass-start classic race, Etienne was third overall, about 30 seconds behind the winner.

Lots and lots of results are available here:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Improvement on most fronts

Today was a day of mixed results for the UAA Ski Team.

First of all, Brandon Brewster did what he set out to do today, qualifying himself for the US Junior National Championships at the Besh Cup #5 qualifier race in Fairbanks with a 3rd place finish in the junior category. I don't want to overstep my authority by putting ratings on all of Brandon's races this winter, but it seems pretty clear to me that this was his best race of the year so far.  I think he's been steadily improving all winter.  His season's goal is a good showing during the second week of March at Junior Nationals in Fairbanks.  That's just five weeks away. If Brandon can stay on the train he's on, he may have even more and better races in his bag of tricks. Etienne finished about ten seconds behind Brandon in today's interval-start 10k skate race, and John Glen was a little farther down the result list.  Results are here:  The boys race again tomorrow in a mass-start classic race.
Brandon Brewster likes uphills.  He likes them a LOT!
In New Mexico... improvement.  Marine got back to where she has been all season so far: in the hunt for a win, though she hasn't quite won one yet. This time it was an interval start skate race.  It was a two-woman race from the start:  Joanne Reid (University of Colorado) and Marine Dusser, a minute ahead of the rest of the field.  They got splits throughout the race that one was leading, then the other, then tied... But in the end, it was Joanne Reid with another win, about three seconds ahead of Marine at the finish line. In my mind, the only thing that matters is who wins the championship and that race is still five weeks away. If Marine doesn't manage to win one of these things until we get to Vermont, that's OK by me.
Here's Marine putting the hurt on Rose Kemp (Utah) who toughed it out and hung on to Marine all the way to the finish for third place today.
Lukas also got himself back where he belongs: within the top five.  He was fourth today, in a nice comeback from yesterday's disappointing fourteenth. The rest of the team struggled all weekend, but that's not really much of a surprise to me, after they spent last week catching up on academics and putting in a solid training week before making a long, tough trip south. As always, college results are here:
Ever wonder how Lukas got to be so fast? Here's how: hard work, and lots of it.
And as for me, I did my first real workout in quite a while: a 2.5 hour classic ski at Kincaid Park, where the conditions are finally fantastic after we got a little more fresh snow late in the week after the team left for New Mexico.

Next on the agenda:  The team piles into the van and leaves New Mexico early tomorrow morning for a 3-day mini-camp at Coach Andrew's boyhood home of Crested Butte, Colorado, where there's plenty of snow on the ground and plenty of sun in the forecast.  They'll stay there until Tuesday before continueing on to Utah for the final two races of this trip, next Friday and Saturday.

Friday, February 1, 2013

On the Road Again

Andrew made the comment to me earlier this week at Kincaid Park that the team seemed really big when we had everyone in the same place for the same workout.  But that only lasted for about eight days before the team split up again to head in several different directions again.

Etienne, John and Brandon are in Fairbanks for the weekend, where John and Brandon will attempt to qualify for the junior national championships, to be held later this winter in Fairbanks. For them, this weekend's races should give them a good preview of next month's junior national championship courses.  Etienne will not be using these races to try to qualify for anything, but just to get some good quality racing on some good race courses against (hopefully) some strong competition. 

The rest of the team flew overnight to Denver a couple days ago, where they picked up the van that they stashed at the airport a couple weeks ago with all their equipment and drove south to New Mexico. They raced today.  The team must have been a little tired from spending last week catching up on school and them traveling overnight and roadtripping it to Red River, because they didn't have their best results today.  Not surprising.  It's a tough to fly and drive 2,500 miles and 10,000 vertical feet and then try to be at your best the next day.  The team will race again tomorrow before roadtripping it to Crested Butte Colorado for a little 1-day training camp and then continuing to Utah for two more races next weekend.  Today's results are here:

New Mexico.  This weekend's races are not being held at this exact spot.

As for me, I spent the last couple days on Popof Island in the Pacific, in the rain. As usual, I enjoyed myself.
The backcountry skiing options are endless on the volcanos of the Aleutian Islands.

Sand Point, AK is a quiet place to spend a couple days.

Moments later, this eagle pecked my eyes out just for fun.