Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lasse's Last Day in Alaska

I remember a few summers ago when former UAA head coach Trond Flagstad told me, "I just signed a guy from COPENHAGEN(!), where it's flat and it usually rains during the winter. But he seems like he's really organized, really serious, and he'll be UAA's first ever Danish skier! This should be interesting."

And it was interesting.  During his first fall training season in Alaska, it quickly became clear that Lasse's training venues back home had been very flat.  He was a super strong roller ski double poler, but he wasn't so much in his element when it came to going up long steep hills. During his first racing season here, he won a tough head-to-head battle for second place at the Western Region championships behind Lukas (who was region champion that year), but otherwise was far enough off the pace of the best RMISA skiers that he didn't qualify for NCAA's. 

The following year, Lasse spent much of the summer in Anchorage, occasionally joining Davis or me or the APU Ski Team for workouts, trying to spend as much time as he could climbing, climbing, climbing. And he made a significant improvement from the previous year, qualifying for NCAA's, for example. 

As Lasse's college results improved, his FIS points were naturally going down, too, and although I don't know how he ranked among Danes when he came to Alaska, it became clear that his FIS points had now become better than any other Danish skiers.

Lasse spent last summer in Alaska again, continuing to work on improving his ability to climb hills and it paid off last winter when he was usually in the top ten in the RMISA college races.  At NCAA's, Lasse was 8th in the individual start race (along with his teammates - all the UAA men were in the top ten that day). But he also qualified to represent Denmark at the World Championships in Italy last winter, and it became clear that he is now the top-ranked Danish skier and has a good chance of representing Denmark at next year's Olympics in Sochi.

When Lasse came to UAA, he already had an undergraduate law degree from the University of Copenhagen.  At UAA, he completed a Master's of Business Administration.  His original plan was to go back to Copenhagen after this year, call it quits with the ski racing, get a law degree, and presumably make a career out of suing the pants off all the Denmarkians.  But he got a little too fast at skiing over the past three years, and now he can't pass up the opportunity to train for one more year, try to lock down a spot on the Danish Olympic Team, and compete in Sochi before moving on to new challenges.

As far as I can tell, Lasse has accomplished the things he's accomplished through simple hard work, persistence, and refusal to compromise.  He got As in school, and he showed up for every workout and race prepared, focused, on time, with his gear in order, and ready to put everything he had into the workout or the race. And Lasse makes few mistakes. He knows how to use his brain before and during races, and thus is able to get as much as possible out of his efforts. Because of these attributes and his self-confidence, he was a very strong leader for our team.

Lasse has spent the past few weeks in Fairbanks visiting friends, going on adventures, and training 20-30 hours per week. There was a plane waiting to take him home to Copenhagen on Thursday, and he had stored all his stuff in my Tobydome (so named after Toby Schwoerer, former UAA star skier who spent the occasional night camped out there in the storage building behind my house ten years ago).  Lasse had one last morning to kill in Anchorage before fetching his gear out of the Tobydome and heading to the airport for his flight at mid-day; he offered to take me out for one last morning of backcountry skiing adventure at one of his favorite Alaska powder stashes.  I was happy to be invited along.

One of several launch launching-off points that morning.

Lasse recommended we ski the back wall of this bowl.

There was nothing wrong with the weather.

About 20 minutes after this photo was taken, Lasse received a marriage proposal from an enamored tourist who'd been watching his snowy exploits from afar. But Lasse had to decline - he has other things he has to focus on right now...
Next year, Lasse is trying to secure a base of operations somewhere in Europe for his fall Olympic training. As he spends a few final months preparing for one more winter racing season, you can follow his adventures at  Good luck, Lasse!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words! Could not imagine any better way to end my journey! I'm uploading some pictures to my blog right now!