Ski team finishes 12th at Nationals

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The NMU ski team returned home from the NCAA National race this week, and head coach Sten Fjeldheim said in spite of the effort of the athletes, the results were not what he wished for.

“These kids skied really hard, and you have to keep it in perspective because this is the nationals,” he said. “You can’t expect to do well when you have all the best skiers and teams in the nation and you’re just a little bit off, and that is all it takes.”

Fjeldheim said, despite the finishes, his team maintained the right mindset.

“To be a true competitor, you have to maintain your professionalism and your composure when it is not going so great, and that is what these guys did. And I was really proud of them. If anything, I was the one that wanted to throw a temper tantrum and break my skies up against a tree or something,” he said. “But they were very professional and gave me some great feedback and that is how you learn.”

And the results were close. In the classic for the men and women, junior Martin Banerud earned 15th, and redshirt freshman Marie Soderman ended in 15th for the women. Also finishing for the ‘Cats was senior Phil Violett in 25th, senior Justin Singleton 35th, junior Laura DeWitt 17th and sophomore Ingrid Fjeldheim 28th.

In the freestyle race, two men and two women finished in the top twenty. Banerud ended in 11th, just one spot shy of being an All-American, Violett in 15th, DeWitt 17th and Soderman in 20th. Ingrid Fjeldheim finished 32nd and Singelton was 35th. NMU finished for a combined ranking of 12th overall in the Nordic racing.

“They were all just so, so close, and that is just the way it is at the national championships. If you’re just a little off it looks way off,” Fjeldheim said.

Fjeldheim added that in the classic race Banerud was just four-tenth of a second away from being in the top ten but luck wasn’t just in NMU’s favor.

“Martin (Banerud) is a legitimate National championship contender and so is Phil (Violett), and so I know they were frustrated but they didn’t express it much,'” he said. “And that is why we call it racing and competing, if there were any guarantees it wouldn’t be interesting at all.”

This was the last race for Violett, who hopes to keep competing after this year at the national level, so Fjeldheim said the team left with aspirations to be at this level again.

“This sport is incredibly tough physically and mentally it is hard,” he said.

“So you can’t give up anywhere. We are going to get together as a team and we will back on the national level,” he added.