The Wildcat women’s Nordic ski team intended to kick off its season last weekend at the Michigan Tech Open on Saturday, Dec. 3, however, the lack of snow in Houghton caused the skiers to postpone the meet.
Last year, the ’Cats ended their season as conference champions and runners up in the region.
Head coach Sten Fjeldheim said he was more than impressed with the team’s performance.
“We skied really well all through the regionals and at the championships, we qualified a whole team,” Fjeldheim said. “We had a mixed bag of results but Marie Helen Soderman who was seconds from being an all American is back and looking good.”
In the NCAA championships, Soderman finished 16th in the women’s 5K freestyle with a time of 15:16.0 and 13th in the women’s 15K classic with a time of 55:20.7.
Fjeldheim said he thinks the upcoming season will go very well due to the number of talented athletes on the team.
He spoke very highly of juniors Marie Helen Soderman and Monica Markvardsen.
“We will have two of our best skiers returning from last year which should make a huge difference in our ability to compete,” Fjeldheim said. “Marie Helen and Monica both put in a lot of time over the summer working on their technique and are looking very good for this season.”
Fjeldheim also commented on the depth of the team due to the contributions of juniors Rosie Frankowski and Libby Ellis.
Ellis finished 17th in the freestyle event at the NCAA championships with a time of 0:15:39.5.
Frankowski was redshirted last season, but the season prior, she placed 38th in the 5K classic at the CCSA championships.
Fjeldheim said the team’s greatest competition this year will be University of Alaska Fairbanks due to their high intensity and winning record.
“I respect Alaska Fairbanks,” said Fjeldheim. “They won the women’s regional last year and are going to be our best competition this year for sure. Our team looks ready to challenge Alaska and give them a run for their money.”
Sophomore Jordyn Ross has a positive attitude about the upcoming season and said she is eager to experience the outcome of their training.
“I’m very excited about how training has been going this fall, and this winter should be fun,” Ross said. “We have been training since May and have been training throughout fall semester.”
Freshman Felicia Gesior said she has high expectations for the team’s ability to compete and come home with a few wins.
She said the team is can’t wait to get on the snow and start the season.
“I think the season is going to go very well since everyone is anticipating starting and is really excited about it,” Gesior said. “I think we have a really good opportunity this year to do well as a team in general. There are a lot of strong skiers here that are very ready to race.”
Although the ’Cats have not been able to train on snow until recently, they have been training since the beginning of the school year.
Gesior said the team does a lot of cross training and roller skiing.
“We have just started to get on snow recently but we have been doing a lot of roller skiing,” Gesior said. “We have also been doing a lot of cross training; we often go to Marquette Mountain and run up the hills.”
Ross said the team competes in distance and sprinting events. The distance events include races from 5-20 kilometers and the sprinting events are around 1.2 kilometers.
The ski team competes in the Central Collegiate Ski Association.
“The disciplines we ski are classic racing and freestyle racing,” Ross said.
Gesior said she has high hopes for the Wildcat’s performance in the CCSA despite the high competition in the league.
“I think we can count on doing really well and being very competitive just as a team in general,” Gesior said. “I think we will be able to qualify a few people to go to NCAA’s which is the main goal.”
Ross said the leadership on the team is very strong and the two captains do great things for the Wildcats.
“Monica and Marie Helen are the two female captains and both of them are awesome skiers and bring some amazing aspects to the team,” Ross said.
The ’Cats will be competing in the Central USSA Opener Dec. 10-11 in Ironwood, Mich.
Ross said the competition at that meet will be very difficult.
“It’ll be pretty fierce because there will a lot of good skiers from around the Midwest,” Ross said.
Fjeldheim said he is hoping that Mother Nature cooperates and blesses the wildcats with snow for their meet this weekend.
“We are hoping to beat a bunch of teams,” Fjeldheim said. “Things look good and if it is snowing, the races will be on. I think we are going to go into it with the mindset that we are going to ski as hard as we can.”