A new ski season is on the horizon and teams around the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) Region have been preparing for the opening races in December. The CCSA consists of six women’s programs and five men’s programs- a combination of DI, DII, and DIII teams.
One big highlight this racing season includes the U.S. National Championships hosted in Houghton, Michigan. This is a huge advantage for Midwest athletes for qualifying for trips such as the Junior World Championships and U23 World Championships (and possibly the World Cup being hosted in Minneapolis this spring?) as last time U.S. Nationals were in Houghton, ten Midwest athletes qualified for international trips.
Last season, Northern Michigan University led the CCSA Region, with the College of Saint Scholastica’s men’s and women’s teams leading the fight for the Division III programs. Out of the twelve athletes who represented the Central Region last year at NCAAs, only five return, and with lots of new athletes throughout the season, expect results to be shaken up this season. Another noticeable difference this year is that the Central Region will compete for eight men’s spots and seven women’s spots (a jump up from six spots per gender last year) for the NCAA Championships, capped at three athletes per team. Each team around the conference has been working hard to show up prepared for the season opener, December 14th in Duluth.
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB)Jeremy Hecker is coming off of a successful first year as the UWGB Head Coach, after sending Sadie Peterson to the NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vermont last spring. Hecker has an impressive resume, spending time at both Williams College and Stratton Mountain School as an assistant coach, along with being a head coach with the Endurance United Club in Saint Paul. UWGB has two new members on the team this season: Jackson Alder, a successful junior skier from Green Bay, WI, and Lara Ketterer from Titisee-Neustadt, Germany. As they gear up for the season, UWGB is ready to build on their success this year. “We had a great ‘duathlon’ time trial this fall” Hecker said, “It was roughly 4x5km switching between skate and classic roller skiing. Athletes were also required to switch boots in addition to poles/skis so it made it a lot more interesting. Ryan Mead had our fastest times, but Shad Kraftson ended up winning because of his efficiency during the exchanges!” Expect Kraftson to lead the UWGB charge, along with Peterson and Tom Woolhouse, and do not be surprised if the UWGB ups the number of athletes they send to NCCAs this year.
St. Cloud State University (SCSU)Mike Schroden is in his second year as the head coach at SCSU and is working on rebuilding the program. Schroden has had over ten years of coaching experience with nearby high school programs such as St. Cloud Cathedral High School and Sartell High School. He also worked in the Nordic Ski Industry for over two decades and is a professor at St. Cloud State. Despite having a small team, SCSU is looking to grow as a unit of skiers, and they hope to grow and better their program. Returning skiers to look out for are Jamie Herridge and Anna Stockinger, who Schroden says, have been continuing their growth as skiers and working on their all-around ski skills. Usually having to train on a small man-made section, SCSU got caught up in one of the early winter storms that hit Minnesota this year. “We were blessed with the snow gods this year and have been on natural snow at our full training loop. So happy!” Schroden
Saint Olaf CollegeKevin Brochman returns for his eighth year as the head coach at Saint Olaf. Brochman is originally from Stillwater, Minnesota, and before he became a coach, he was an accomplished skier, competing at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Brochman was on the US ski team for three years and had twenty-five top ten finishes at US National Championship events.
Based out of Northfield, Minnesota, Saint Olaf comes off of a year of strong finishes at the US Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships, and they aim to have their skiers improve on the points list this season. Top returning skiers include Kieran Mullen, Tyler Radtke, Spencer WareJoncas, Henry Wortman and Peter Carlen on the men’s side, and Stephanie Bales, Erica Meyers, Dana Pflughoetf and Lucia Wyland on the women’s side. This group of skiers hope to gain a spot in the NCAA Championships this season and are working hard to do so. “The favorite workout is to see 16 smiling faces at 6:15 AM for morning rollerskis on campus” Brochman says.