With one final stride to the finish line of the season, the NMU Nordic Skiing team just finished the NCAA Central Regionals. Both races were held Saturday due to high winds -cancelling Friday’s race.
Head coach Sten Fjeldheim knows this is no time to relax, with only a few weeks remaining in the season.
“We’re going to taper a little bit, but not too much. We’re going to continue working on technique, strength training and interval training,” he said.
With both races being held on Saturday, the athletes had to adjust and be ready to race as fast as they could twice in the same day, which is not normal. Fjeldheim said some of the athletes experienced abrasive wax, which is like having no edge on a hockey skate.
“The team did very well and adjusted to bad ski conditions, and we have some good underclassmen coming on strong for us, which is exciting for next season,” Fjeldheim said.
NMU women’s Nordic skiing finished second behind the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. Sophomore Monica Markvardsen led the women in the 10k classic race as she finished third in 33:43.1. Junior Marie Helen Soderman was two back in fifth place, and Libby Ellis was ninth.
“It was a really good race, and I was not expecting to do that well but was really happy with my performance and the team as well,” Markvardsen said.
The men’s team won both events, beating the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Martin Banerud and Andy Liebner finished first and second in both races.
The team has one big test left in the final races of the season during the NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vt., in just over two weeks.
“Christina Turman looks ready to light it up and has the potential to be an all American along with all the other athletes as well,” Fjeldheim said.
Six athletes qualified for the races: Monica Markvardsen, Christina Turman and Marie Soderman for the women, Martin Banerud, Erik Soderman and Andy Liebner for the Men’s team.
“Coming into the season, I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I have, so I’m happy to make it and need to race as fast as I can,” Markvardsen said.
For senior Ingrid Fjeldheim, her skiing career at NMU is likely over, as she will be a substitute at the NCAA championships. She said it is unlikely she will get the chance to ski.
“Our team has great potential to have All-Americans this year, and I’m looking forward to watching them race at their best,” Ingrid said.
Fjeldheim said the team won’t be going anywhere warm this spring break because they will be staying in Marquette to continue training for the last races.
As the season has come nearer to the end, some of the team has come to realize that their teammates are going to be moving on and are just trying to cherish the time they have left.
“It’s hard saying good-bye to the seniors and will be sad to see them go because they are such a big part of our team so it makes it that much more difficult,” Markvardsen said.