Skiiers finish first half of SuperTour

Brad Gicopoulos

NMU Nordic skiing is in the midst of the Central SuperTour and just finished up the first half of a two-weekend meet. The team is working hard to prepare for the last stretch of races this year.

Head coach Sten Fjeldheim is busy making sure his athletes are finely tuned for the rest of the season.

“The athletes need to continue to focus on perfecting technique and work on individual tasks regarding both ski intensities and technique,” Fjeldheim said.

Senior Martin Stuge Banerud, who finished eighth in the 15k race with a time of 24:55.6, said he is ready to finish the year strong.

“We are stronger as a team than we are individually; we need to keep practicing hard and competing to finish at our absolute best,” Banerud said.

The men had four finishers in the top 25 for the 10k race, and the women had five top 25 finishers in their 10k race.

Banerud said this has become the expectation at NMU more than the goal for the entire squad of athletes.

“We have great chemistry, and when we travel together it keeps it fun. We’re all there for each other and all very competitive within the team as well,” Banerud said.

NMU freshman Erik Soderman who finished 13th in the 15k race (40:36.7) and 15th in the 10k race (25:20.0) of the Central SuperTour in Minnesota is enjoying his chance to compete as a freshman.

“It’s a lot of fun with the amount of people racing, plus trying to get the technique down and getting the body in tune during the race is great,” Soderman said.

Driving back and forth to races, waxing skis, giving athletes feedback, scouting and assisting athletes are just some of the things the coaching staff does to make sure NMU Nordic skiing is excelling at a high level. These things have not gone unnoticed by the athletes.

“Our coaches are great, they work so hard throughout the season, they give us feedback, and it is really appreciated from our entire team,” Banerud said.

This time of year, it can be a struggle for athletes to find a way to stay properly hydrated, eat healthy and train properly. All of those components, Banerud said, are keys for the athletes to stay healthy while striving to reach their maximum potential at the same time.

“We do so much training and are so active that it is just important to keep getting food and water into our systems so we don’t get fatigued,” Banerud said.

The coaching staff knows that on top of a healthy diet, the athletes need to stay focused on classes as well.

“Balancing school work is also a key. School comes first and foremost, and if an athlete has to miss a training session at this point in the season, it is not a big deal,” Fjeldheim said.

With the NCAA Championships in March approaching fast, the team will have to continue to get better and better each week and push themselves to be stronger and faster. Last year, NMU placed 14th out of the 22 schools that attended.

“I need to keep getting better results and be in the top shape I can be to help our team win at the NCAA championships this year,” Soderman said.