Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Good News!

The first time I met Nicole De Yong was some time in the mid-1990's. Nicole's older sister, Kristy, was a member of the East High School ski team, and I had been asked by East's legendary ski coach, Harry Johnson, to show up at practice from time to time that winter to help out with some technical advice and other "special projects" as needed.  Before the state high school championships, there was a team spaghetti dinner at the De Yong house. After dinner, brownies and ice cream were brought out, and they were the best brownies I'd ever had!  I was told that Kristy's younger sister, Nicole, had made the brownies. Nicole was not yet in high school at that time, so I wasn't following her racing too closely, but I'll never forget those brownies!

Eventually, Nicole ended up on the UAA Ski Team and worked her way to the top of the college circuit, finishing second to her teammate, Mandy Kaempf, at the 2005 NCAA National Championships in Stowe, Vermont. She continued racing after college on the Nor-Am, Europa Cup, and World Cup circuits. As recently as this past winter, Nicole was one of the top racers in the US, with a win at the Owl Creek Chase and a 5th place in the American Birkebeiner Worldloppet race.

As I write this, Nicole is spending some time parked in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. She's on her way north from Sun Valley, Idaho, where she's been an athlete / coach for the past several years.  She'd already be in Anchorage by now but she blew a head gasket on her Subaru engine on the Alaska Highway in Watson Lake, and had to get her car towed to Whitehorse for repairs.

Nicole is on her way to Alaska to become UAA's new assistant nordic coach, and this team is very fortunate to have her!  Nicole brings her enthusiasm for the sport, her World Cup racing experience, and perhaps most importantly, her maturity and warm, friendly personality to this organization, and the team is certainly going to benefit from her involvement. Andrew and I are very excited to have Nicole join the coaching team this year.  With any luck, she'll manage to get her car fixed, get back on the road, and we'll see her in a few days.  Welcome back to UAA, Nicole!

Here's photographic proof that this coming winter won't be Nicole's first time giving feeds in a UAA jacket.  Here she is in 2005 or 2006, giving a drink to her UAA coach, Trond Flagstad, at the national championships.

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