Nordic skiing takes podiums

Nordic skiing takes podiums

Noah Hausmann

On the road in Minnesota, the Northern Michigan Women’s Nordic skiing team dominated in the 5K freestyle at the Duluth Central Qualifier, held Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Marshall School ski trails, capturing the top three spots. All the lady Wildcats placed within the top 10 of the 120-athlete field.

Sophomore Nicole Schneider won the title, completing the course with a time of 13:18.5, while junior Vivian Hett took second (13:41.7) and senior Sophie Schimpl came in third (13:49.0).

re-SkiJunior Caroline Brisbois placed fourth (14:05.3), senior Kristen Bourne sixth (14:14.4), sophomore Sophie McDonald eighth (14:20.3) and sophomore Sarah Bezdicek crossed the finish line ninth (14:21.5). Men’s and women’s head skiing coach Sten Fjeldheim said the season has been going well for the younger skiers on the teams and for Schneider in particular.

“Schneider has been on fire the last couple of weekends,” said Fjeldheim. “She just destroyed the field last week in Wisconsin—she won by 30 seconds. She’s skiing really well, and she’s only a sophomore, so that’s been impressive. She’s won the last two weekends by a pretty good margin.”

Hett described the feeling of being on the successful women’s team and also her concerns about qualifying for the NCAA championships.

“It’s exciting, but at the same time it’s challenging because only three of us can go to NCAAs, so it’s fun but it’s also hard racing against only your teammates. It can be a very interesting dynamic,” she said. “Last year I qualified for the NCAA team, and I’m hoping to do so again. The girls’ team is strong, and all of us are really strong enough to make it. I would be happy to make it there and represent our team again.”  Because of rising and falling temperatures, the trails were icy this weekend. Due to the poor conditions, Sunday’s planned events were cancelled. But now with new snowfall, the trails are looking better.

“It hasn’t been ideal, but we’re fortunate that we live where we live,” Fjeldheim continued. “The snow came a little late this year, but it didn’t throw us off too much. Global warming, it’s not good—but it sure doesn’t feel like that today. It’s perfect now.”

On the men’s side, freshman Lars Sonsterud earned a spot on the podium in the 10K freestyle, taking third with a time of 24:48.4. Senior Sam Elfstrom placed 10th (25:20.1) and freshman Zak Ketterson 11th (25:39.3) were also among the first 15 skiers to cross the line.

“I’ve been impressed with our guys this season,” Ketterson said. “We really rise to the occasion. We have seniors doing well, but when you also have freshmen doing well it looks good for the future. It’s exciting, especially knowing those guys will be your teammates for the next couple years.”

Meanwhile on Saturday, senior Fredrik Schwencke competed in the 50K classic at the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette. He placed third in the race, which was shortened to a 31K due to conditions, after crossing the line with a time of 1:31:46.3.

NMU alumni Kyle Bratrud won the race at 1:31:35.3 and Felicia Gesior finished 20th, second among female competitors, after clocking in at 1:45:09.2.

In Soldier Hollow, Utah, senior Adam Martin of the men’s ski team is competing in the Under 23 Cross Country World Championships Jan. 30 to Feb. 5.

The Wildcats’ next race is this weekend at the Central Collegiate Ski Association Distance Championships in Houghton, Feb. 4 and 5.

“Michigan Tech has some good guys, and there’s good guys from every school,” Ketterson added. “But for the most part it’s just racing your teammates, since some of the top guys on our team are some of the best guys in the region, which is cool because the practices are like the races—it’s the same guys you’re racing against.”

Feb. 18 and 19 the NCAA Central Region Skiing Championships will be on the Al Quaal trails in Ishpeming.

“These next two weekends will be critical in qualifying for [the national championships],” Fjeldheim explained. “I’m sure we’ll have a full Nordic team qualify—three men and three women.”