Wildcats catch victory, look for snow

Karly Ratzenberger

The Nordic ski team followed the snow to Houghton, Mich. for their first race of the season.

The ’Cats took top finishes in a classic race and on Saturday Dec 1, and a freestyle race on Sunday, Dec 2.

On Saturday for the men’s division, junior Erik Soderman (12:15:00), sophomore Kyle Bratrud (12:09:30), senior Chris Bowler (12:11:00) and junior George Cartwright (12:13:00) took second, third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

The women’s team also finished top tier with first, second and third places. Freshman Mary Kate Cirelli started off the Wildcat win with a first place finish and a time of 0:18:55.0. Following close behind was junior Jordyn Ross with a time of 0:19:11.5. Junior Rosie Frankowski rounded off the top three with a time of 0:19:17.0.

Head coach Sten Fjeldheim said he thought the first race went really well despite the fact that the team has not spent much time on snow.

“The team has done a good job of dryland training, but still it is quite a bit difficult to get on the real thing,” Fjeldheim said. “The snow is a bit different. Considering that we haven’t had a whole lot of time on snow, I was really pleased with the results.”

On Sunday, the men took home the win by placing in the top four spots of the freestyle race. In first place was Cartwright with a time of 12:13:00. Soderman slid in second with a time of 12:15:0, followed by junior Ben Hugus (12:09:00). Bratrud finished off the pack with a fourth place finish and a time of 12:10:00.

For the women on Sunday, the ’Cats took first, second and third place with Frankowski (0:27:33.3) heading off the pack. Frankowski was followed closely by Cirelli (0:27:52.2) with a second place finish. Ross finished off the top three with a time of 0:28:06.4.

Fjeldheim said he was very pleased with the results of the weekend and it was fun to see the freshmen make adjustments to the new level of skiing.

“Mary Kate and Megan have adjusted well and are skiing well,” Fjeldheim said. “Our upperclassmen George and Erik just crushed the field on Sunday so they are really happy to see those results.”

Senior Monica Markvardsen said she thought the races went very well for the team as a whole.

“Although there were some tricky conditions,” she said. “The team performed very well in the opening races.”

Markvardsen said the team did not have any specific goals going into the meet in Houghton, rather, they were simply getting back into the swing of things.

“Besides just skiing, I think our goal was to just do the best that everyone could and getting into the rhythm of the season again,” she said.

Despite the move north, weather conditions were still not ideal for skiing, and Markvardsen said in general, the weather was a bit tricky to work with.

“Saturday it was very warm and the snow was quite wet, so for the classic race, it was really tough to get wax to work and most of the team ended up skiing on skis that are specially made for warmer weather,” she said. “After the race on Saturday, it rained quite a bit and was very warm so it was very slow and slushy on Sunday, making it a very tough race course.”

Due to weather conditions and lack of snow, the race which was originally scheduled to take place in Al Quall, Ishpeming was moved up north to Houghton.

Fjeldheim said the team is not at a huge disadvantage due to the lack of on snow training but when it comes to techniques, it is hard for the team to work on the technical aspects of their races.

“We have dealt with the lack of snow before,” Fjeldheim said. “Psychologically, it is a bit of a bummer when you can’t be skiing but the kids are keeping a great attitude and it doesn’t make a huge difference.”

Next weekend, the snow ’Cats will be traveling to Ironwood, Michigan to compete in the Central United States Ski Association Opener. The meet will take place on Saturday Dec 8 and Sunday Dec 9.

Fjeldheim said it is a tradition for the USSA to put on a race to open the season, and the team will be working hard to put up a good showing at the tournament. As student athletes, however, the team will be backing off a bit in preparation for exams.

“We will be working on continuing what we have been doing with an emphasis on backing off on our volume of training,” Fjeldheim said. “Our intensity and interval training will be the same it has been for the past few weeks. With finals coming up, our schedule gets a lot more flexible to accommodate the student athletes needs for studying and things. We will back off a bit but not too much.”

Markvardsen said the team will continue to train to prepare for the upcoming race.

“Hopefully we will find some snow to ski on,” she said. “I think also a lot of the team will be trying to improve technique for the upcoming races.”