Wednesday, November 15, 2023

On the Lift

Just like in XC skiing, rudimentary drills are necessary at the start of the season.

Everyone knows that alpine skiers like to do their sport on a tilted sheet of boilerplate ice. Powder days?  No thank you. If it does snow, they plow the new snow off to the side so they can get back down to the ice again, and they ski on that. In alpine ski racing, they call that sheet of ice a "good surface". 

Ski lessons are in session.

It started snowing heavily in Anchorage last week, and now we're in the midst of setting a new all-time November record for snowfall in Anchorage. Several feet of snow now clog Anchorage's roads and provide dreamy ski conditions on our nordic ski trails. But we UAA alpiners knew immediately what to do last week when we saw all that snow coming. We loaded up the trucks and drove to a place without any snow on the ground. And so here we are in our secret fall training spot, without any of the school closures and piles of snow that are causing all the trouble in Anchorage, as they struggle to get the snow plowed and reopen schools and businesses.

Caeden Carruthers

It doesn't matter that our secret training location doesn't have more than around an inch or two of snow on the ground. There is snowmaking here, and our team is raving about the "good surface" at the ski hill. As every year, we continue to say that this is the best place for us to spend the second half of November. Several of our athletes are reporting significant improvements in their skiing so far this week, and they're attributing it, in part, to the quality of the skiing here. 

Ella Bromee

As for me, I'm having a great time, and thankful that the alpine skiers and coaches agreed to let me come along with them again to our secret fall training spot in the Klondike.

Sparky Anderson and Carmen Nielssen.

Sunday, November 12, 2023


Last March, about a half-hour after the award ceremony at the NCAA Championships in Lake Placid, as Toomas and I were cleaning and packing up the wax cabin after a long week, Trond burst in with a giddy smile on his face and said, "Hey Adam! Your hero, Fred Fayette, is right outside the door! You should go out and say hello." And of course I did, but it was a little hard to get a private audience with him at that particular moment, because others had also noticed that Fred was in the parking lot, and lots of folks wanted to come over and chat with him, since he hadn't been seen around the venue all week. Nevertheless, we got a chance to catch up on the latest, and to agree about how privileged we both were to be able to hang around the college ski circuit for so many years. I left our conversation feeling a little bit refreshed after a disappointing race week, and I was already looking forward to the next time our paths would cross. But Fred died the following month, on April 26.

Fred Fayette was the volunteer assistant coach at the University of Vermont for what seemed like forever. He graduated from UVM in 1969, and as far as I can tell, he started working as a volunteer assistant right after graduation. By the time I was a high school skier in New Hampshire in the 1980’s, he’d been a volunteer assistant coach at UVM for quite a few years. By the time I was a college ski racer, at the University of Wyoming, I was getting pretty well accustomed to seeing him beside the trail or in the parking lot at the race venue whenever UVM was in attendance. And during my races, I could always count on hearing something nice from Fred as I passed by his spot beside the trail, whether it was a reliable, accurate split, or just an encouraging word.

Over the years, I grew more and more fond of seeing Fred at ski races. It started to become a highlight of my college skiing experience, first as a racer but then, more so, as a volunteer assistant coach myself. Because it was then that I started to see Fred as a role model that I could learn from and try to emulate to some small degree in my own involvement with the sport.

There was no question that Fred’s approach to his role with UVM was the ideal that I was aiming for, whenever possible, as my role with UAA has gradually expanded and deepened. His skill set and mine are not particularly similar, but it was his approach to his role – his sincerity – that really inspired me. I guess my appreciation for Fred’s involvement with UVM hasn’t gone unnoticed by the UAA coaches; many is the time former UAA coach Andrew Kastning or current (and past) UAA coach Trond Flagstad have made comments to the effect that maybe someday, if I play my cards right, I could be a volunteer assistant coach in the mold of Fred Fayette. And I’ve always found those offhand comments from Andrew and Trond to be inspiring.

The University of Vermont Ski Team in particular will feel his absence. I recommend you take a moment to read a little more about Fred’s role with UVM here and here. Or you can hear from Fred himself here: Fred Fayette Video. This is a man who made his part of the world a better place. And a lot of people bettered themselves by crossing paths with Fred Fayette.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Dryland Training Has Ended

After this week's snowstorm, it's pretty safe to say that dryland training has ended for the year. We're glad to be on snow now. But just in case you want a little more rollerski action, here are a few shots from a month ago.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Seawolf Wedding of the Century

 First week of August, 2023. The place to be was Wiedenfelsen, bei Buhlertal, in Schwarzwald, Deutchland. The event was the wedding of Theresia Schnurr (UAF 2013) and Lasse Mølgaard-Nielsen (UAA 2013). 

Former Skiwolves, Jaime Bronga (2012), Steffi Schauer (Hiemer) (2012), Tim Samuelson (longtime friend of the Skiwolves, but not actually a Skiwolf), Lukas Ebner (2014) and Viktor Brännmark (2013).

After finishing up skiing and school at UAF, Theresia worked in genetics at the University of Copenhagen, while Lasse worked as a lawyer at the biggest law firm in Denmark. But after several years in Copenhagen, they moved to California and have spent the past couple of years in the San Francisco Bay area with their two young children, where Theresia's doing research at Stanford and Lasse's working for the Danish Consulate. 

We all had so much fun at Wiedenfelsen!  And despite the rainy weather all week, the sun came out just in time for the wedding. 

If you look close, you might be able to make out what they're spelling.

Congratulations Theresia and Lasse!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Eastbound and Down


Morning at Kincaid

We're a big team this year. A lot bigger than usual. We have seven returning Seawolves. Eight new Seawolves. The freshmen outnumber the upperclassmen. I'm still trying to learn all the new names and faces. 

One of the things I really like about NCAA athletics is the turnover. No matter how much I might want these skiers to stick around, after four years they're going to have to go (with some pandemic-era athletes being the exception). The clock is always ticking. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there. The quick turnover really makes me appreciate every moment.

 Spirits are high. The vibe is good. We're excited about the year to come. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Making Tracks

Tracks don't fall from the sky. Sometimes you have to pitch in and help make them yourself. That's what we did yesterday, when both the UAA alpine and nordic skiers spent a couple hours in the evening, cutting brush at Kincaid Park.  

Former NCAA skier (Western State College) Ben Arians was getting tired of getting smacked in the face by alders, willows and elderberry branches whenever he skied along the edge of the trail, in the classic tracks, here in Anchorage over the past few winters. He didn't think skiing on our City ski trail systems should feel like bushwhacking through the Chugach Mountains. So he decided that, rather than bitching about it, he would do something about it. And the result is his campaign to rid our city's ski trails of overhanging branches that create a safety concern and take the fun out of classic skiing.

Ben has been out there with a chain saw, loppers, wood chipper, and whomever he can recruit to come out and help him beat back the brush and tame the wilderness. Yesterday, it was the UAA Ski Team's turn to do our part. 

It felt good to get out there and help out for a few hours, to make our training and racing venues a better place to go skiing. But on the other hand, I have it on good authority that when we all went back to class and to our rollerski interval session the following morning, Ben Arians and John Mahaffey went right back to Kincaid Park the next morning and picked up where we left off the evening before. 

Flexing?  You decide.

Thursday, September 21, 2023


Late last March, I could tell that the entire crew at the UAA Nordic Ski Team Blog needed a little break. The staff writers were running low on ideas, the copy editors were showing up late and missing deadlines, and even our custodial staff seemed low on morale. After a long ski season, our management team was getting tired of the relentless pressure from corporate for increased profits, and from our shareholders for increased dividends. The vibe around HQ was not good. So I made the difficult but necessary executive decision to furlough the entire staff (without pay) until fall. 

And I'm glad I did. After a half-year break, the entire UAA Nordic Ski Team Blog staff has returned to their tiny cubicles refreshed and ready for a new start. At our corporate campus, the air is abuzz with energy, new ideas are being kicked around over lunch in the cafeteria, and the brainstorming is non-stop.

And it's not only the Blog staff that's refreshed and ready for a new season. The UAA Ski Team itself is also awash in new faces, and Trond has that excited, giddy laugh that he gets when he starts thinking about ski racing, ski racers, and skis. If you know Trond, you know what I'm talking about.

So we're off on a new adventure!  As my counterpart, Volunteer Assistant Alpine Coach Morten Kjerland told the alpine skiers today: You only get four years to be an NCAA student athlete, and the clock is already ticking. So all of us here at the UAA Nordic Ski Team Blog are fired up for a new year, ready to make every moment count, and make lemons into memories!

Two weeks ago. Already snow in the mountains above Anchorage. We'll likely be skiing next month. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

In John Brown Country


Winter came late this winter to the Northeast. It arrived a just a few days before we did. But it's here now. And so are we. We've had our ups and downs here in Lake Placid.  The alpiners had a rough first day. And so did we, over here at Mt Van Hoevenberg. 

Leon & Ella

But today was the day for slalom, and we scored a bunch of points and a couple of All-American finishes, so we're making a comeback. We hope to continue the trend tomorrow in the 20km classic races. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

2023 Seawolf NCAA Championship Fan Guide


The NCAA's begin tomorrow!  Can you believe that?

And just in the nick of time, here's your 2023 NCAA Championship Fan Guide. Scroll down to find your favorite Seawolf so you can cheer for them while watching the livestream coverage. As for where you can find this livestream coverage, I don't know. I'm not able to find any links to it. But I'm sure you're a better web surfer than I and you'll track it down somewhere.

Magnus Noroy - Nordic

Anna Berecz - Alpine Assistant Coach

Astrid Stav - Nordic

Trond Flagstad - Head Nordic Coach

Ainsley Proffitt - Alpine

Adam Verrier - Nordic Volunteer

Ella Bromee - Alpine

Sparky Anderson - Head Coach

Toomas Kollo - Assistant Nordic Coach

Tuva Bygrave - Nordic

Ashleigh Alexander - Alpine

Pascale Paradis - Nordic

Leon Nikic - Alpine

Ari Endestad - Nordic

Morten Kjerland - Alpine Volunteer

Peter Hinds - Nordic

To Lake Placid!


Flying in or out of Anchorage on a sunny day can make for great views out the window. This is the Chugach Range just behind Girdwood.

As is often the case, February was very busy. We flew back to Anchorage from Colorado a few weeks ago. We had a series of four RMISA races in Alaska, including the RMISA Championships.  I spent a week in Wisconsin. Then we had a few days of training and here we are in Lake Placid, New York, for the NCAA Championships. Most of the team caught a cold after our series of Alaska RMISA races, but we're recovering and hoping for good things a couple days from now, here at the NCAA Championships. 

Arriving at the Team House here in Lake Placid.

Ski stadium reconnaissance

This is our rental car. Trond parked it in the wrong spot and they put a bubble around it! Can you believe that?

Team dinner at the house.

Tuva and Trond


Every once in a while, Toom, Trond and I can break free for a little coaches training session. Today we made a lap around the 1980 Olympic 50km course. What a fantastic race trail that was - and is!