NMU’s Schwencke crowned NCAA Champion, Gesior takes 13th in classic event


Northern Michigan’s Fredrik Schwencke was crowned NCAA Champion, winning the men’s 20 kilometer mass start classic race on Friday in bold fashion, while NMU’s Felicia Gesior led the CCSA women, taking 13th in the women’s 15 kilometer event.

The men’s race began with Northern Michigan’s Kyle Bratrud skiing at the front of the race in bib number one. Fredrik Schwencke was originally assigned the leading bib, but after Schwencke reported feeling some cold symptoms, Northern Michigan Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim decided to have Schwencke exchange his number one bib for Bratrud’s number nine.

“That irritated him,” chuckled Fjeldheim. “It made him mad enough to want to come out and maybe make a point to me that he should have been bib number one.” With nine starting lanes, Schwencke still enjoyed a good position at the start and the bib number was more symbolic than a strategic advantage. Fjeldheim defended the decision to switch bibs, saying, “I think it took the pressure off of Freddy a little bit. He was a little under the weather, but I told him you don’t need your nose and throat to ski.”

The race began briskly, and as the racers skied through the stadium after their first 5 kilometer lap it was Bratrud and Schwencke leading the pack. As the pace increased in the second lap, Bratrud and his teammate Erik Soderman stayed toward the back of the leading pack of around 12 skiers, while Schwencke remained just behind the leaders.

Nearing the end of the third loop Bratrud crashed, skidding off the trail and into the powder. “Erik [Soderman] said he skied by him while [Bratrud] was sliding sideways and said he thought to himself, ‘I just hope he doesn’t hit a tree,’” Fjeldheim said.

Nevertheless, Bratrud quickly recovered from his setback and, Fjeldheim said, “within a kilometer or so he was back in the top ten.”

Heading through the stadium on the final lap of the race, there were just four men in the lead: Aku Nikander of New Mexico, who led much of the final lap; and a pair of skiers from the University of Colorado, Mads Ek Stroem and Rune Malo Oedegaard. NMU’s Schwencke skied most of the final lap in third place, appearing relaxed and skiing smoothly through the relentless climbing of the Mt. Van Hoevenberg trails.

“He skied really smart,” said Fjeldheim. “He didn’t take the lead, and he didn’t have to. He had good skis, solid wax, and he played it conservatively on the first three laps. Towards the end of the last lap he realized he had a chance to win.”

As the four skiers entered the stadium with some 300 meters left in the race, Schwencke deftly switched lanes, powerfully double poling between the two tracks to take the lead in the optimal position. It was a well-timed and well-executed move that won him the race as much as his determined sprint that began as soon as he found himself in the lead.

“There was a little bit of diagonal striding,” Fjeldheim said of Schwencke as he crested a slight rise that led into the finishing lane. “Then he had a really strong double pole into the finish.”

A thrilled Schwencke crossed the finish line in first, winning his first NCAA title, and the first for NMU since Soderman won the freestyle title in 2012. He appeared to be almost in disbelief at the finish line, before NMU assistant coach Haakon Stuge Baanerud lifted the triumphant Schwencke on his shoulders.

“Freddy was happily surprised,” Fjeldheim said. “Personally I wasn’t surprised. I knew that all three could do it, I just didn’t know who it would be.”

Bratrud finished 7th, and Soderman took 11th, just 3 seconds away from tenth. “I’m really happy with his race,” said Fjeldheim. The efforts of the NMU trio won them the men’s Nordic team title. “A great day for the Wildcats,” said Fjeldheim. “We’ve got the best men’s team in the country, I’m pretty dang proud.”

Logan Hanneman of Alaska Fairbanks skied to 20th place, while St. Olaf’s Jake Brown finished in 28th. “I thought he skied a smart race,” said St. Olaf Head Coach Tom Jorgenson. “It just shows how far he’s come in classic this season.”

Paul Schommer of St. Scholastica finished in 29th. Schommer noticed a ski mix up shortly before the race and the Saints coaching staff worked at top speed to fully prepare his skis in time for the start. “Miraculously, we got it done,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela.

Schommer worked his way up the field, skiing in 22nd position heading into the long climb on the final lap when his kick wax, which hadn’t had time to set up properly, began to wear off and he slipped back into 29th. “Paul simply changed Saints skiing,” said Salmela. “He came so far so fast.”

Michigan Tech’s Thomas Bye finished 32nd, a result that pleased Joe Haggenmiller, Head Coach of Michigan Tech. “Tom being a freshman, a true freshman, it’s another level when you come to NCAAs,” said Haggenmiller. “Just to beat one or two guys is an accomplishment. So I was pretty happy with how Tom raced. We’ll look forward to next year with the experience he’s gained from World Juniors in Kazakhstan and now NCAAs.”

Fellow Michigan Tech teammate Haakon Hjelstuen finished in 34th, and Haggenmiller praised the Norwegian’s perseverance. “Haakon was battling pretty hard. His lower back was bothering him quite badly this week, and he said his legs just wouldn’t respond.” Despite the pain, Hjelstuen soldiered on. At the end of the third lap he was near the tail end of the race but a big push on the final lap saw him move up the results list. “I’m really glad he battled,” said Haggenmiller. “He was able to outsprint a couple of guys at the finish.”

Jonas Löffler of Alaska Fairbanks rounded out the CCSA men, finishing in 39th.

Felicia Gesior led the CCSA women in the final Nordic event of the NCAA Championships, taking 13th in the 15 kilometer classic event with a time of 49:43.7. “Amazing finish for Felicia,” said Fjeldheim. “It’s her first NCAAs, she showed today that she’s got what it takes.”

Kristen Bourne of NMU skied to 17th. “Today she started relaxed and kept working her way up, moving up, and up, and up,” Fjeldheim said. “She’s just a gutsy Minnesota girl, she toughed it out and skied a really smart race.”

Anita Kirvesniemi of St. Scholastica finished 18th, just edging Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin by a tenth of a second in a closely contested sprint to the finish. “It went solid,” said Salmela. “She was hoping for more, but it wasn’t a bad race. She skied really well.”

Deedra Irwin of Michigan Tech took 19th. “She skied fantastic, she skied hard,” said Haggenmiller. “The competition level at NCAAs is high: to make the top half of the field takes five years of hard work.”

In 27th for Michigan Tech was Alice Flanders. “I’m really a lot more excited at her 27th in classic than her 21st in skate,” Haggenmiller said. “I think she really skied well, some of the best classic skiing she’s skied. It was fun to see her battling out there.”

Both Flanders and Irwin are seniors at Michigan Tech and Haggenmiller toasted their final race for the Huskies. “I’m really proud of Alice and Deedra, I think they battled hard which is important for our region, and I think they went out on a day they can be proud of to finish their college careers.”

Sharmila Ahmed of St. Scholastica skied to 29th. “She skied really, really well, especially considering she had a cold all week,” Salmela said. “She started slow and conservative and then started to pick people off.” Salmela added that, “the impact of both [Kirvesniemi and Ahmed] is profound on the trajectory and history of this ski team.”

Jordyn Ross of NMU took 36th, and Anne-Tine Markset of the University of Alaska Fairbanks finished in 38th.

The classic race at Mt. Van Hoevenberg concludes the racing season for the CCSA athletes.

Full results can be found at www.barttiming.com


NMU’s Bratrud 7th, Ross 12th at NCAA Championship freestyle race


The NCAA Skiing Championships got underway Wednesday in Lake Placid, New York, with the individual start freestyle race. With temperatures approaching 40 degrees under humid and overcast skies, ski selection proved to be a critical element in the race, favoring those who had a pair of skis with a structure suited to the warm and wet snow—unusual conditions for skiers from the central region.

NMU’s Kyle Bratrud led the CCSA men, skiing to 7th place in the 10 kilometer freestyle race with a time of 26:22.3. “Kyle had strong start,” said NMU Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim, “but he didn’t get the result he wanted.”

“He’s still a little fatigued from Europe,” Fjeldheim said. Bratrud’s season saw him compete at both the U-23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan and the Nordic World Championships in Falun, Sweden. “It was a good race considering the traveling he’s done. It was a respectable race, got to be happy with it.”

Logan Hanneman of Alaska Fairbanks took 12th overall. “Logan had a good race,” said Alaska Fairbanks Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “Sometimes you have a good race and you feel great, other times you have a good race and you have to fight, and Logan definitely fought today.”

Hanneman finished just 3.6 seconds out of tenth place. “It’s a little tough when you’re so close to making All-American,” Turman said, “but it was his best freestyle race at NCAA’s.”

Erik Soderman of NMU was 15th. “All-in-all Erik’s result is good,” said Fjeldheim. NMU’s Fredrik Schwencke, who “isn’t a 100%,” said Fjeldheim, finished 30th.

Paul Schommer of St. Scholastica finished 31st. “Paul told me ‘it could have been better, it could have been worse,’” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela.

“I think it’s hard to be happy with 31st when you’ve been 15th and 8th in the freestyle event historically, so I think Paul has handled that obvious disappointment well,” said Salmela. “But I think Paul gave his best today with where he is and he should feel no remorse for doing everything he could do today. He raced smart, listened to his body, and this was what he was capable of today.”

Tom Bye of Michigan Tech skied to 35th, a result that Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller commended. “He was battling out there, and turned out something respectable,” said Haggenmiller. “For a freshman to come out here and beat a few people is great.”

Jake Brown of St. Olaf finished 36th. “He had a pretty high place in mind for today, so he started fast,” said St. Olaf Head Coach Tom Jorgenson. Brown skied through the stadium after his first 5 kilometer loop in 27th position. “Midway through his second lap he sort of blew up,” Jorgenson said. “He didn’t finish where he wanted to, but I’m really proud of the way he skied today, he left everything out there.”

Jonas Löffler of Alaska Fairbanks took 38th, and Haakon Hjelstuen of Michigan Tech finished 40th, his race hampered in part by the wrong choice in skis for the day.

Leading the CCSA women in the 5 kilometer freestyle race was Jordyn Ross of NMU in 12th. Ross skied the course in 14:54.7, a tantalizing 4.3 seconds away from tenth, and with it the title of All-American. “Jordyn’s a senior and she wanted to be an All-American so bad,” Fjeldheim said, “and this was the race she was really aiming for.”

Fjeldheim praised Ross’s skiing career at NMU, “to start skiing as a junior in high school, and to come from where she did as a freshman is a great accomplishment.”

NMU’s Felicia Gesior skied to 16th place. “Felicia gets the skier of the day award for our team,” said Fjeldheim, “she had a really solid race.”

Alice Flanders of Michigan Tech was 21st. “Alice left it all out on the course,” said Haggenmiller. “She raced really well through 2.5 or 3 k.” Flanders skied the first half of the race in the top ten before tiring late in the race.

Sharmila Ahmed of St. Scholastica was 23rd, while her teammate Anita Kirvesniemi finished in 29th. Salmela was pleased that both results were better than the school’s previous best result of 36th, set by Ahmed in 2013.

“Sharmila skied so well especially since she hadn’t skied for four straight days prior to yesterday, just because she was fighting low energy with cold symptoms. If you consider that, 23rd is amazing and I’m so proud of her. On the flip side, it only begs the question ‘what if,’ had she been fully 100% health wise. I think she managed the situation like a pro.”

“If I could come up with a course and conditions that would be the absolute worst for Anita [Kirvesniemi] in a 5 k skate,” said Salmela, “today was pretty close to it…When you take in all the factors, Anita’s 29th is alright with me. I’m very satisfied and think she is right where we want to be for Friday.”

Anne-Tine Markset of Alaska Fairbanks was 25th overall, and the fifth CCSA woman. “It was a solid result for her, I’m really happy for her,” said Turman. “It was one of her better races of the season.”

NMU’s Kristen Bourne took 35th. “Kristen faded a bit, she may be fatigued from Europe,” Fjeldheim said, referring to Bourne’s participation at the World Junior Championships in February.

Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin took 37th, skiing “relatively well through 2 or 3 k,” said Haggenmiller, before she tired late in the race.

The NCAA Skiing Championships continue on Friday March 13th at Mt. Van Hoevenberg Nordic Center in Lake Placid, New York. The women’s 15 kilometer classic mass start race will begin at 10:00 am EST, and the men’s 20 kilometer classic mass start will begin at noon EST. All races will be streamed live at NCAA.com


Full results at www.barttiming.com



Alaska’s Hanneman, Michigan Tech’s Flanders named CCSA Skiers of the Week

CCSA News, CCSA Skiers of the Week

Logan Hanneman of Alaska Fairbanks and Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders have been selected Skiers of the Week for their performances at the NCAA Central Regionals held on February 28th and March 1st at Al Quaal Park in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Logan Hanneman skied to an impressive set of second place finishes at Central Regionals, and narrowly missed taking the top honors in the men’s 20 kilometer classic mass start race, finishing second behind NMU’s Schwencke by 5.3 seconds. Hanneman was the top CCSA skier in the sprint races at US Nationals, taking 7th in the classic sprint and 8th in the freestyle. Hanneman competed for the United States in early February at the U-23 World Championships  in Almaty, Kazahkstan, taking 23rd in the classic sprint.

Alice Flanders took her third freestyle victory of the CCSA season at Central Regionals, winning the 5 kilometer event with a time of 15:09. Flanders took 11th in the women’s 15 kilometer classic race. Flanders is unbeaten this season in freestyle races over 5 kilometers, and she has finished on the podium of every CCSA qualifying freestyle race this season. With Flanders outstanding record in 5 kilometer freestyle races, the Michigan Tech senior will be looking forward to that event in Lake Placid on March 11th.

Both Hanneman and Flanders will compete at the NCAA Skiing Championships held on March 11th and 13th in Lake Placid, New York.

Fjeldheim and Salmela named CCSA Coaches of the Year


Northern Michigan Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim and St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela have been selected CCSA Coaches of the Year; Fjeldheim for the men’s team, and Salmela for the women’s. The award is voted on by all the CCSA coaches.

Chad Salmela and the St. Scholastica women’s team enjoyed a great season of skiing this year. “I think we knew coming into the season that we had an opportunity for a good year,” said Salmela. “But you never know for sure–sport is sport.”

“This was arguably our strongest year ever,” Salmela said. “Our CCSA regular season was spectacular. We worked really hard to get where we are now; there were a lot of challenges, so I think this is a nod to the work we’ve done.”

Salmela credited the success of his team this year to consistent performances at races and the depth of his team. “They had really consistently good results. Anita [Kirvesniemi] had two wins, Sharmila [Ahmed] had a few podiums, and we were CCSA Champs, and that wasn’t an easy task.”

“I also think that the depth of our team really showed,” said Salmela, who cited the efforts of senior Liz Peterson, sophomore Ellie Evans, and freshman Allison Ternes as being an important part of the team’s success over the season in securing the CCSA Championship Title, and winning the CCSA Championship relay.

“It goes down in my mind as one of the best teams we’ve ever had…it’s a special year for us.”

Sten Fjeldheim has much to be proud about his men’s team this year. “It’s one of the best team’s we’ve had in Northern Michigan in a long time,” said Fjeldheim. “I think it compares to the era of Chris Cook and Pete Vordenberg when they were competitive at Nationals and were going to the Olympics.”

Fjeldheim praised the way his men’s team conducted themselves over the year. “I think they really supported each other in a positive way,” said Fjeldheim. “They pushed each other in intensity sessions, and they trained a lot.”

“They’re all just really into it, they all want to be the best they can be. They didn’t make excuses, and there was no negativity, towards the weather, or anything.”

“They were super positive, fun to coach, and professional. They were light hearted, and laughed a lot. They were serious when they needed to be, but they had a lot of fun training together and enjoyed it. It was a fun group to be around.”

“They really paid attention to details. When you’re training a lot and when everyone’s training a lot, one of the things that separates skiers is paying attention to the details. Eating right, getting enough sleep, timing your recovery, stretching, watching technique videos, monitoring heart rates—they made all of that a normal thing.”

“It’s a super year. I have a lot of respect for these guys.”

Field announced for 2015 NCAA Championships


The 17 men and women that will represent the Central Region at the 2015 NCAA Skiing Championships have been officially announced by the National Collegiate Association’s skiing committee. The Championships will take place on March 11th and 13th in Lake Placid, New York.

Northern Michigan leads the CCSA representation at the NCAA Championships with a full allotment of six skiers. Michigan Tech will send four, Alaska Fairbanks and St. Scholastica each qualified three skiers, and St. Olaf will send one representative.

NMU’s Erik Soderman leads the CCSA men as the top scoring skier of the season. Soderman will be joined by his teammates Fredrik Schwencke, who reached the top of the podium three times this season, and Kyle Bratrud, who represented the United States at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden in February and notched four victories in the CCSA earlier in January.

Alaska Fairbanks will send Logan Hanneman, a competitor for the United States at the U-23 World Championships to his fourth NCAA Championship appearance. Hanneman’s teammate Jonas Löffler, a senior from Saint Märgen, Germany, will make his second appearance at the Championships. Michigan Tech qualified Haakon Hjelstuen, an exchange student from Oslo, Norway, who notched two victories this season, as well as Tom Bye, a freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota who competed for the United States this winter at the World Junior Championships.

St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer will travel to his third NCAA Championship, and Jake Brown will make his first appearance at the Championships, both representing St. Olaf.

On the women’s side, Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross was the highest scoring qualifier from the CCSA, and the senior from Lakeville, Minnesota will make her second NCAA Championships appearance alongside her teammates Felicia Gesior and Kristen Bourne.

Michigan Tech will send Alice Flanders with three victories this season to her second Championships, along with Deedra Irwin, a member of the US team at the U-23 World Championships who will be making her second appearance. St. Scholastica will send senior Sharmila Ahmed to her second Championships along with her teammate Anita Kirvesniemi, who will making her first appearance after notching two victories this season. Alaska Fairbanks will be represented by Anne-Tine Markset, a sophomore from Oslo, Norway. She is making her first appearance at the NCAA Championships.

The Nordic events will be held at Mt. Van Hoevenberg on Wednesday, March 11th with the women’s 5 kilometer and the men’s 10 kilometer freestyle race, and on Friday, March 13th with the women’s 15 kilometer, and the men’s 20 kilometer classic mass start race.

This year’s championships will be webcast live on NCAA.com. Visit http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule to watch all the action. Races will begin at 10:00 AM, EST


2015 Central Region qualifiers


Erik Soderman, Northern Michigan

Kyle Bratrud, Northern Michigan

Fredrik Schwencke, Northern Michigan

Logan Hanneman, Alaska Fairbanks

Haakon Hjelstuen, Michigan Tech

Jake Brown, St. Olaf

Jonas Löffler, Alaska Fairbanks

Paul Schommer, St. Scholastica

Tom Bye, Michigan Tech



Jordyn Ross, Northern Michigan

Felicia Gesior, Northern Michigan

Alice Flanders, Michigan Tech

Deedra Irwin, Michigan Tech

Anita Kirvesniemi, St. Scholastica

Sharmila Ahmed, St. Scholastica

Anne-Tine Markset, Alaska Fairbanks

Kristen Bourne, Northern Michigan

Michigan Tech’s Axelsson, NMU’s Schwencke win classic event at NCAA Central Regionals


Michigan Tech’s Ulrika Axelsson and Northern Michigan’s Fredrik Schwencke won the final event of the NCAA Central Regional Championships, held at Al Quaal Park in Ishpeming, Michigan.

The women’s 15 kilometer classic mass start race was led out of the gates by Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin. As Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller explained the race, “after the first climb Deedra stretched the field out and got a gap. After that she skied relaxed, and Ulrika [Axelsson] bridged the gap to Deedra near the end of the first lap along with Felicia [Gesior].”

By the end of the first lap at 5 kilometers Irwin and Axelsson were leading the race with Gesior of NMU skiing along with them. The rest of the women’s field trailed the leading three by more than 10 seconds. Chasing the leaders was a group led by Alaska Fairbanks duo Ann-Cathrin Uhl and Nichole Bathe.

With Irwin and Axelsson in control of the race, the two Michigan Tech skiers continued to keep the pace high throughout the race. “Both were just trying to go as fast as they could to put a gap on the field,” said Haggenmiller. “They were not really battling each other. Deedra put in a hard effort to get Ulrika from the bad side of the bubble to the good side,” Haggenmiller said in reference to Axelsson’s bid for qualifying for NCAA Championships.

With Axelsson’s campaign resting on a top finish, the two Michigan Tech women increased the pace on the final lap and managed to gain some distance on Gesior.

“They were able to claw out a 5-10 second gap on Felicia on the last lap,” said Haggenmiller.

Axelsson took the victory at the finish line, with Irwin trailing just .8 seconds behind. Gesior was third for NMU, 13.5 seconds behind Axelsson.

Nichole Bathe finished fourth for UAF, a result that UAF Interim Head Coach Christina Turman praised. “She raced really strong, it was a good note to end on. She proved that she can be right in there,” said Turman. “She wanted the team to move from 4th place to 3rd, and we did that with her result.”

Kristen Bourne took 5th for NMU, while Ann-Cathrin Uhl took 6th for UAF. “Ann maybe had the race of the day—to break into the top ten in that fashion was pretty impressive.”

Jordyn Ross took 7th for NMU, and St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi finished 8th. St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela applauded Kirvesniemi’s tactical racing on a difficult day for the Saints. “Anita skied really smart,” said Salmela. “She had a hard time keeping pace with the leaders so she bided her time.” Kirveseniemi was able to work her way from 12th position up through the field in the latter stages of the race to finish in 8th.

In 9th from UAF was Ann-Tine Markset, and in 10th was NMU’s Vivian Hett. Markset’s result edged Axelsson out of a qualifying position for NCAA’s despite her victory. “It’s a bittersweat day for her,” said Haggenmiller. “She really represented us well. It was an exciting day for the women. Full credit to Anne-Tine for skiing the race she needed to.”

Northern Michigan won the women’s team title for the Central Regionals, with Michigan Tech in second, and Alaska Fairbanks third. St. Scholastica took fourth, Green Bay was 5th, and St. Olaf 6th. Gustavus and St. Cloud State tied for 7th.

The men’s 20 kilometer mass start classic race was led initially by Isaac Lammers of Alaska Fairbanks. At the first 5 kilometer loop Lammers enjoyed a 3 second gap to the rest of the men’s field in the early stages of the race with NMU’s Adam Martin in close pursuit, followed by Ian Torchia of NMU and Jonas Loeffler of UAF.

Lammers maintained the lead of the race through the 10 kilometer mark, with Martin skiing right behind him and Torchia and Erik Soderman for NMU all within a second of each other.

Torchia, an NMU freshman, led the race at 15 kilometers, with Lammers falling back as the pace increased in the second half of the race. Behind Torchia were his teammates Soderman, Martin, and Schwencke. UAF’s Logan Hanneman and Loeffler were also among the leading six, as the front pack broke away from the rest of the men’s field.

Leading the chasing group at the 15 kilometer mark was Kenneth Brewer of UAF, but the leaders were just out of reach, some 12 seconds ahead.

In the closing stretch it was Schwencke who had the finishing power to win the day, winning with a time of 51:30. Alaska Fairbanks’ Logan Hanneman took second, 5.3 seconds behind Schwencke.

Turman praised Hanneman’s racing strategy, saying, “Logan skied a really smart, tactical race, he never led, and he skied between 4th and 7th the whole race. As the race broke apart he moved up. Adam [Martin] had put a little gap on him near the end, but on the last climb Logan surged ahead to go on and take second.”

In third for NMU was Adam Martin, 1.1 seconds behind Hanneman. In fourth was Erik Soderman, 2 seconds behind Martin, while Ian Torchia was 5th for NMU.

Jonas Loeffler took 6th for UAF. “Jonas was solid,” said Turman, “and he secured his spot.” His teammates Isaac Lammers and Kenneth Brewer finished 7th and 8th, respectively, a result that Turman was thrilled with. “Today was just phenomenal,” said Turman. “Basically the entire team skied to their potential. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys, they raced out of their minds.”

In 9th place for Michigan Tech was Haakon Hjelstuen. Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller said that Hjelstuen was, “really running on fumes today after his effort yesterday. Freddy [Schwencke] made a move, and Haakon tried to respond, but he took a fall. He was never able to bridge back up after that. It was still a good day though.”

Alexander Eckert of UAF rounded out the top ten men in the classic race. Eckert was the 5th man from UAF to make the top ten in Sunday’s race.

Northern Michigan took the top prize for the men’s team competition at Central Regionals. Alaska Fairbanks finished second, and Michigan Tech was third. St. Scholastica was fourth, St. Olaf 5th, and Green Bay 6th.

Full results can be found at www.superiortiming.com

NMU’s Soderman, Michigan Tech’s Flanders win freestyle race at NCAA Central Regionals


Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman and Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders were the victors in Saturday’s freestyle race at the NCCA Central Regional Championships, held at Al Quaal Park in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Erik Soderman, the NMU senior from Njurunda, Sweden had a terrific day at Regionals, winning the men’s 10 kilometer race by over 33 seconds with a time of 23:24. “It was a great day for Erik,” said NMU Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “He really lit it up on the second loop.”

“He skied out a little conservatively,” said Fjeldheim explaining Soderman’s racing strategy. “That’s kind of how he does it. I think he was only 6 seconds back at 3 k. Then he increases the pace gradually.”

Taking second behind Soderman was Alaska Fairbanks’ Logan Hanneman, with a time 23:57.3. “It was a solid day for Logan,” said UAF Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “It was pretty surprising to see him ski so well getting right off the plane.”

Hanneman joined the UAF team in Marquette late on Thursday said Turman, opting to stay an extra couple of days in Fairbanks to catch up on missed school from his time away competing at the U-23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Taking third was Michigan Tech’s Haakon Hjelstuen. “Haakon was pretty fortunate to have Erik Soderman starting behind him,” said MTU Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. When Soderman caught Hjelstuen a few kilometers into the race the Norwegian exchange student stayed with his pace. “He skied with Erik [Soderman] for about 5 k and lost six seconds on him [towards the end of the race].”

“He really put himself in the pain cave to ski with him,” Haggenmiller said. “He couldn’t remember the last 3 k.”

Taking fourth for St. Olaf’s was Jake Brown. Tom Jorgenson, Head Coach of St. Olaf said that Brown skied “a good race, a consistent race. I think it was his best result of the season so far.” Jorgenson added, “it’s coming in at the right part of the season, the right time.”

In 5th place was Fredrik Schwencke of NMU, “a solid day for Freddy,” said Fjeldheim. Finishing in 6th was St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer. “I couldn’t really tell that Paul felt like it wasn’t going great, because I thought he looked great,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “Sometimes…late in the season, when athletes are hanging on to their fitness, they might not feel awesome but they can still perform well. I think that’s what Paul’s experience was. It was arguably one of his best, if not best performance this year compared to the field.”

Taking 7th for NMU was Ian Torchia. “He’s an ambitious freshman,” said Fjeldheim. “He just got back from Kazakhstan and he’s been under the weather this week, he hasn’t been doing much training. He was so passionate about racing today, so I let him.”

8th went to Adam Martin of NMU, while 9th and 10th went to UAF’s Nick Lovett and Kenneth Brewer, respectively. “It was a huge day for those guys,” said Turman. It’s really exciting to see some other guys racing fast and stepping up.”

The women’s 5 kilometer freestyle race was won by Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders with a time of 15:09. It marked Flanders third consecutive distance freestyle victory in the CCSA. “It’s a strong result,” said Haggenmiller. “Anytime you’re winning it’s a good day. We’re pretty proud of her.”

Taking second place was NMU’s Jordyn Ross. Ross had trailed Flanders by about 8 seconds halfway through the race before closing the time gap to just over three seconds at the finish line. “Jordyn was only 3 seconds out,” Fjeldheim said, “and she knows exactly how she lost that time so that’s okay.” Haggenmiller noted that, “Alice and Jordyn sort of have an ongoing battle on the race course.”

In third was St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, while fourth went to NMU’s Felicia Gesior. In 5th was Anita Kirvesniemi of St. Scholastica. “It was the best single day in our program at regionals ever,” said Salmela. “We’ve never put two in the top five at regionals, and that’s just awesome. The whole team skied great and while we were second last year as well, we’ve never been closer to winning than today.”

“This goes such a long way to take the pressure off both Sharmila and Anita tomorrow because they will probably qualify [for the NCAA Championships] even if they didn’t race tomorrow. They obviously will race, and race the best they can, but it’s nice to not have to feel a lot riding on the race. They can just go out there and let it happen.”

In 6th and 7th place were NMU’s Sophie Schimpl and Kristen Bourne, respectively. In 8th was UAF’s Anne-Tine Markset. “Another solid race for her,” said Turman. “She’s becoming quite consistent. She was just a few seconds off of 6th place, so another close race there.”

In 9th was Deedra Irwin of MTU. “She’s starting to recover from her transatlantic travel,” said Haggenmiller of Irwin’s recent return from the U-23 World Championships in Kazakhstan. “It’s the best she’s felt since she’s been back,” he added. “She’s getting better and better.”

Taking 10th was NMU’s Vivian Hett. “The women did great,” said Fjeldheim. “I was happy with the results for the men and women on day one of regionals.”

Full results can be found at www.superiortiming.com

CCSA names 2015 All-Conference teams


The Central Collegiate Ski Association has announced it’s 2015 All-Conference teams. Northern Michigan University leads the conference with nine of its skiers among the honorees, while five of Michigan Tech’s skiers and four of St. Scholastica’s were named All-Conference. St. Olaf and Gustavus Adolphus each received an All-Conference award to round out the twenty skiers honored.

Leading the women’s All-CCSA First Team is NMU’s Jordyn Ross and teammate Felicia Gesior, St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi and Sharmila Ahmed, and Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders. The All-CCSA Second Team includes MTU’s Ulrika Axelsson and Deedra Irwin, NMU’s Sophie Schimpl and Megan Edic, and Gustavus Adolphus’s Marit Sonnesyn.

The men’s All-CCSA First Team is led by NMU’s Adam Martin along with teammates Erik Soderman, Fredrik Schwencke, and Kyle Bratrud. St. Scholastica’s Paul Schommer rounds out the First Team honorees. The All-CCSA Second Team includes St. Olaf’s Jake Brown, CSS’s Reitler Hodgert, MTU’s Haakon Hjelstuen and Kyle Hanson, and NMU’s Krystof Kopal.

CCSA competition resumes at the NCAA Central Regional Championships on February 28th and March 1st in Marquette, Michigan. The Regional Championships mark the final qualifying races for the 2015 NCAA Championships.


Women’s All-CCSA Teams

First Team

Jordyn Ross, NMU

Felicia Gesior, NMU

Anita Kirvesniemi, St. Scholastica

Alice Flanders, Michigan Tech

Sharmila Ahmed, St. Scholastica


Second Team

Ulrika Axelsson, Michigan Tech

Marit Sonnesyn, Gustavus

Sophie Schimpl, NMU

Megan Edic, NMU

Deedra Irwin, Michigan Tech


Men’s All-CCSA Teams

First Team

Adam Martin, NMU

Erik Soderman, NMU

Fredrik Schwencke, NMU

Paul Schommer, St. Scholastica

Kyle Bratrud, NMU


Second Team

Jake Brown, St. Olaf

Reitler Hodgert, St. Scholastica

Haakon Hjelstuen, Michigan Tech

Krystof Kopal, NMU

Kyle Hanson, Michigan Tech

Northern Michigan’s Schwencke, Gesior named CCSA Skiers of the Week

CCSA Skiers of the Week

Northern Michigan University’s Felicia Gesior and Fredrik Schwencke have been selected CCSA Skiers of the Week for their performances at the CCSA Distance Championships held at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis on February 14th and 15th.

Fredrik Schwencke, a sophomore Wildcat from Oslo, Norway, skied an impressive set of races at the CCSA Distance Championships at Wirth Park, winning the men’s 20 kilometer classic mass start race, and taking second in the 10 kilometer freestyle race. In the classic race Schwencke outpaced his teammates Adam Martin and Erik Soderman in the final lap to win the day, 5.2 seconds ahead of Martin. Schwencke took second place in the freestyle race, just 2.3 seconds behind the time of his teammate Soderman. Schwencke has had an incredible season thus far, winning twice, and skiing to the CCSA podium in every qualifying race he has entered.

Felicia Gesior skied strategically in the women’s 15 kilometer mass start classic race at Wirth Park to win her first CCSA race of the season. Gesior timed her attack to perfection at the CCSA Distance Championships, outsprinting Ulrika Axelsson of Michigan Tech, winner of the CCSA Sprint Championships, to win the day for the Wildcats. Gesior skied an excellent freestyle race at Wirth as well, finishing fifth overall. Gesior, a junior Wildcat from Waukesha, Wisconsin, has made the podium in three previous CCSA qualifiers this season.

CCSA racing will continue at NCCA Regionals on February 28th, and March 1st in Marquette, Michigan.

Michigan Tech’s Flanders, NMU’s Soderman win freestyle event at CCSA Championships, St. Scholastica takes home Championship Team Titles


Michigan Tech’s Alice Flanders and Northern Michigan University’s Erik Soderman won the individual start freestyle race at the CCSA Distance Championships on Saturday, February 14th at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Cold temperatures delayed the start by an hour until the air warmed to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, the minimum temperature allowed for competitions.

Alice Flanders proved that she remains the woman to beat in freestyle at Wirth Park, winning the 10 kilometer event with a time of 13:53.2. Flanders, a senior at Michigan Tech grew up in Crystal, Minnesota skiing the trails at Wirth Park.

“No doubt about it, she feels good skating on that course when it’s compact, straight man-made snow,” said Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Haggenmiller. “This one’s kind of in our wheelhouse.”

Taking second place, 11.1 seconds behind the pace of Flanders was Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross. In third place was St. Scholastica’s Sharmila Ahmed, taking her first individual podium in the CCSA this season with a sharp performance at Wirth.

“She had a rough day in the classic – athletes have those,” said St. Scholastica Head Coach Chad Salmela. “She bounced back from that great, I was really impressed with her focus.” Salmela added, “A podium is always nice, especially at a championship.”

In fourth was Marit Sonnesyn of Gustavus, enjoying another great day of racing at Wirth. “It was her fourth straight race in the top 5 at NCAA qualifiers,” said Gustavus Head Coach Jed Friedrich. “I thought she’d be a little tired from yesterday from putting in a big effort in the chase group, so to see her get this kind of a result today, and be so close to being on the podium was really good to see.”

5th was Felicia Gesior of NMU, and in 6th was St. Scholastica’s Anita Kirvesniemi. Known as something of a classic specialist, the result marks Kirvesniemi’s second top ten freestyle performance in the CCSA this season.

7th place went to Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin, who recently returned to the Huskies from the U-23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“I was happy with how both Deedra [Irwin] and Tom [Bye] skied given their travel schedule,” said Haggenmiller. “They both flew back from Kazakhstan on Monday. I thought they needed some racing this weekend but not necessarily both races, so we looked at Saturday’s race as being a little less taxing.”

NMU’s Sophie Schimpl took 8th, while Alaska Fairbanks Anne-Tine Markset and Nicole Bathe took 9th and 10th respectively. “It’s good to see some consistency from Anne-Tine,” said Alaska Fairbanks Interim Head Coach Christina Turman. “Even when she’s not feeling great she can still hold her own.”

11th went to Allison Ternes of CSS, 12th was Vera Gruber of NMU, and in 13th was UAF’s Ann-Catherine Uhl. 14th went to Rebekka Schueder of NMU, and 15th was Elizabeth Peterson of CSS.

“I think we had a really good weekend, especially on the women’s side,” said Northern Michigan Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim. “I saw quite a few of our young freshmen perform better then they have, like Vera Gruber and Rebekka Schueder. Jordyn [Ross] also had a solid weekend and Felicia [Gesior] had a win and was fourth today, so that was real solid…A really positive weekend for the ladies.”

St. Cloud State University Head Coach Jeremy Frost was happy with Maria Hauers race, as she skied to 21st in the CCSA. “It was a cold day and you could tell some of the competitors were really bothered by it,” said Frost. “I felt Maria did a good job of not letting the cold, wind, and delayed start time disrupt her game plan and she was able to put in a quality race effort in less than ideal conditions.”

Fjeldheim was impressed with the depth of the women’s field, saying, “all the athletes showed a lot of class racing in the cold temperatures. It was good solid competition for our women. I think the whole region here—with Alice [Flanders] and Sharmila [Ahmed]—I think our whole region here is becoming a lot more competitive, especially on the women’s side. So that’s a good sign. The whole CCSA looked strong today.”

Erik Soderman of NMU took his first win in the CCSA on Saturday, winning with a time of 19:27.2. His teammate Fredrik Schwencke was second, 2.3 seconds behind the pace of Soderman.

Fjeldheim said that it was a close race between the NMU teammates. “Erik and Freddy, they were getting splits back and forth. They were never more then 4-5 seconds apart the whole race.”

“I think Fredrik is getting more and more confident in his skating,” said Fjeldheim of Soderman’s improved skating technique.

Paul Schommer made the podium once again, his third of the CCSA Championships. “Paul had a rough day in [Friday’s] classic race,” said Salmela. “He’s been focusing on biathlon so he’s been up and down in classic races this year, but he bounced back on Saturday nicely, which is good for confidence. I think he can be every bit as good at NCAA Regionals.”

Fourth was Adam Martin of NMU, and 5th was St. Olaf’s Jake Brown. 6th was Thomas Bye of MTU, recently returned from the Junior World Championships, and St. Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert took 7th.

Jonas Loeffler of UAF was 8th, and in another breakout performance for the NMU sophomore from the Czech Republic, Kristof Kopal took 9th.

“Kristof Kopal has made a huge step in the right direction,” said Fjeldheim. “He’s come so far from last year. I’m really satisfied with the men’s team this weekend.”

The St. Scholastica men’s and women’s team won the CCSA Championships, a four event series held over the past two weekends at Spirit Mountain Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

“Winning both men’s and women’s CCSA Championships is a huge step forward for our ski program,” said a thrilled Salmela.  “We had a spectacular day again as a team.”

Salmela had been concerned about the losing the Saints advantage to Michigan Tech, who were bolstered by the return of Deedra Irwin from the U-23 World Championships. “I didn’t know if we’d hold our own today with them at full power,” said Salmela, “but our ladies stepped up big. To finish the Championship by edging Tech by a point was kind of an icing on the cake…a sign that we earned this title.”

Salmela was equally pleased with his men’s team, saying, “I really was impressed with our men today, they haven’t raced this well as a team all year, and I think our guys just rose to the occasion on a day that they had to perform to make history. I get goose bumps thinking about it…The whole team, scorers and non-scorers, all made me so proud today. Doing what we did today just makes the title we won so much sweeter because it was a championship performance by our guys. No doubt about it.”


Full men’s results can be found at www.endurancepromotions.com

Full women’s results can be found at www.endurancepromotions.com