CCSA Conference Championships Review

CCSA News, Race Results

Finally, after the cold front that hit the Midwest for most of the last week (and led to canceled CCSA races in Rhinelander last weekend) this past weekend felt balmy at the Grand Avenue Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota. With Covid measures still in place, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Green Bay, and Saint Scholastica raced in the second to last weekend of Regional races, before the top athletes in the CCSA head to the east to compete at the NCAA National Championships.

The top MTU Women (including alumni Sarah Goble)

On Saturday, the athletes raced the Individual Start Classic races with the men racing 10k and the women racing 5k. The men’s field was very close, with Zak Ketterson besting NMU teammate Kjetil Bånerud by just three seconds. Emil Book Bratbak rejoined the field after being in Bozeman all year and training with BSF. “I’ve had the opportunity to do some racing out west and I’m really happy about the steps I’ve taken this year”.

Anabel Needham took the win of the women’s race, beating former teammate Sarah Goble by 5 seconds. Hilde Eide led a storm of NMU women who took 9 of the top 14 places. “We have created an inclusive and supportive environment which has resulted in solid performances every weekend,” said Eide, “I’m impressed how adaptable and positive everybody has been throughout the pandemic. We have a ton of fun at practice- overall a great bunch of girls with the right attitude, as Coach Fjeldheim would say.”

The Top MTU men

On Sunday, Ketterson took another win almost 30 seconds over Bånerud took 2nd over Bratbak again. “I felt pretty good this weekend, especially on Sunday!” said Ketterson, “I’m still trying to dial in my classic skiing this year but skating has been working well so far. [The next couple of weeks,] I’ll be doing a lot less training to try to build up some energy and hopefully finish the season strong”. Daniel Strienz finished the weekend with two 4th places giving NMU the boost they needed to take the team win. “The classic day I was quite nervous as I was the only one that day that opted to double pole the course,” said Streinz, “I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble, but I committed to it and it paid off in the end. As for the rest of the season, the plan is to take it mostly easy, play a lot of pool with my boys, and drink too much caffeine and sugar to get stoked on race day”.

In the women’s 15k Skate race, NMU freshman Pearl Harvey took the CCSA by storm, beating teammate and CCSA Season Points leading Malin Börjesjö by 7 seconds. Hilde Eide completed the NMU podium sweep taking 3rd in front of MTU’s Henriette Semb. “With a couple of weekends off competing, I felt I was well recovered,” said Semb. “I am happy with my effort both days this weekend and showed I am not far away from being on the podium. Hopefully, I will be able to work towards closing that gap”.

Next weekend is the NCAA Central Regional Championships hosted by Michigan Tech in Houghton Michigan. This is the final weekend of competitions to decide who will compete at the NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vermont, March 11-13th.

NMU Invitational Review

CCSA News, Race Results

Teams safely traveled to Ishpeming, Michigan this past weekend for the 2021 NMU Invitational as the CCSA NCAA qualifying races continue. As we now enter February, there is less than a month left of regional racing, with three more races for athletes to prove their fitness and strength.

Without a doubt, the grueling courses of Al Quaal tested those abilities this past weekend; being known as one of the most grueling courses in the Midwest, athletes competed in 2 individual start distance races. One thing that turned heads this weekend was the return of Zak Ketterson, who has been at the top of the CCSA since his freshman year at NMU. Having red-shirted last year, Ketterson returns for his last season in the CCSA, ready to make an impact.

On Saturday, the women led the day with a 5k Classic Individual Start. Malin Börjesjö (NMU) continued her strong season with a win of 11 seconds. “I was unusually nervous coming into this weekend, probably since it was a home meet” said Börjesjö, “This weekend I tried to split the course into 6 different sections and I knew I could be fast if I skied my sections as I planned. I think that was a good tactic on this course because you need to be active all the time, especially in the transitions”. Anabel Needham led the MTU women’s team against the fierce battle against the NMU women’s team. The two teams took the top 13 places, with NMU squeaking out the day’s win by just 1 point. Samantha Benzing led the CSS team in 13th, and Maria Schoening led the UWGB team in 21st.

On the men’s side, NMU proved it was a force to be recokened with in the 10k Classic Individual Start, as they almost had a perfect score, just barely being thwarted by CSS’s John Schwinghamer in 5th. Kjetil Bånerud led the NMU charge in 1st, being supported by a standout performance by sophomore Matthew Bourne (who finished 29th in the CCSA Men’s End of Season Rankings last year) in 2nd, Zak Ketterson in 3rd, and Maurus Grond in 4th. Aleksi Leino led a deep MTU men’s team in 7th and Sam Myers led the Green Bay Team in 19th.

The men started first on Sunday, with a 20k Skate Individual start. Zak Ketterson showed up ready to roar, with a dominating performance over the field, winning by 49 seconds. Teammate Tobias Moosman took 2nd; 18 second’s ahead of MTU’s top man, Reid Goble. ” Saturday was a tougher race for me, coming off of the uncertainty of what are race season would be this year, I am just starting to get back into what it means to be racing and I think a lot of people feel that way, ” said Goble, “Sunday I tried to turn my results around and ended up having a good result and just focused on pacing the 20k well.” Shad Kraftson led a strong UWGB men’s team in 17th, showing that the team is rebounding well from a coaching change this season. “I was excited coming into the weekend. You never know what you’re going to get in Ishpeming. I hadn’t done a 20k skate since freshman year, and I knew that it could be a good race for me” said Kraftson, “Training this fall required some adjustments due to Covid and our new coach. However, I think we built a substantial training base. From here the plan is just to dial in skiing fast and taper a little before Conference and Regionals. Staying healthy is going to be super important. The little things”.

In the women’s 15k Skate Individual Start, Börjesjö took another win, 44 seconds in front of teammate Hilde Eide. Needham had another strong day, positioning herself in the storm of the NMU women’s team who took 5 of the top 6 spots. Maj-Lis Helmer of CSS took 15th, and Maria Schoening raced to 21 for UWGB.

Green Bay looks to host next weekend in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Competition continues to stay strong, and the teams are ready to throw down the last couple Regional competitions of this year.

Gitchi Gami Games Review

CCSA News, Race Results

This past weekend the CCSA made their way to Cable, Wisconsin to race at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead in the Gitchi Gami Games. The weekend comprised two individual start races, a classic race on Saturday, and skate on Sunday. Icy conditions led to a technically challenging race on Saturday, with a 10k race for the women and a 15k for the men. Malin Börjesjö blew the field away with a 36 second win, continuously proving that she is the one to beat this season. MTU athlete nabbed 3rd besting region besting Midwest legend Caitlin Gregg. Anabel Needham topped the CCSA podium, pulling a strong MTU women’s team to the team win. Lead Saint Scholastica athlete Rana Krafton had a stellar day in 18th place. “I was super excited coming into the weekend,” said Kraftson, “[The CSS team] hadn’t seen each other for two months until we showed up to the venue on Saturday and everyone came together and gave it everything they had on and off the course and I’m very proud of the way my teammates show up for each other. There is definitely a lot to work on. Getting into 5k race mode felt especially tough on Sunday, both mentally and physically, but I know everyone is in the same boat and it’s going to take a few races to feel like we’re flying out there”. Erica Meyers led the St Olaf women and Maria Schoening led the Green Bay women.

Börjesjö taking the win on Saturday

Kjetil Bånerud (NMU) absolutely dominated the CCSA with almost a full minute and a half lead over teammate Tobi Moosmann. “I felt good coming into the weekend after some solid training since last race weekend in Houghton. I felt recovered and ready to race fast, ” said Bånerud, “This fall was different with the fact of COVID, but I think we did a very good job as a team when it comes to staying positive and pushing each other every day. I am very impressed with my teammates on how they tackled the challenges and helped me stay motivated for a season that we did not know would happen or not.” MTU’s Aleksi Leino snagged 3rd place, just barely finishing in front of Matt Bourne (NMU), “I was trustful coming into this weekend since I feel that I had strong fall behind. Saturday classic race was very good for me and I was able to keep myself on the limit from the beginning to end.” said Leino. “Overall good start for the season”. John Schwinghamer was the top Saint Scholastic man in 8th place and Sam Myers was the top Green Bay athlete in 20th place.

Lars DeWall (CSS)

Henriette Semb (MTU) had a nice upset Sunday, beating Malin Börjesjö by 5 seconds. Olivia Lavén (MTU) had her first CCSA podium once again leading a very strong MTU women’s team. “The training in the US and MTU has been great,” wrote Lavén “For the past couple of years, I have trained alone most of the time, so I feel like it has been beneficial for me to come here and have strong teammates. This weekend, I had a tough classic race, mainly because herringboning is not something I’m good at, [but] but the skate race went a lot better. Even if I was lacking a bit of confidence from the day before, I feel like I was able to perform well”.Maria Schoening led the Green Bay team in 21st, Samantha Benzing led Saint Scholastic, and once again, Erica Meyers led St Olaf.

Mary Lyon is part of a very strong MTU women’s team this year

Kjetil Bånerud and Tobi Moosmann once again led the men’s field on Sunday, with Bånerud taking the win by 21 seconds and Moosman finishing 9 seconds in front of former Olympian Brian Gregg. “Looking ahead towards our next races I want to continue with the good training we have been able to do, and work on details to race even faster next race.” commented Bånerud. Reid Goble took 3rd. John Schwinghamer led the Saint Scholastica team in 12th, Shad Kraftson led Green Bay in 18th,

MTU and CSS athletes on Saturday

The Gitchi Gami Games proved that team competition will be fiercely competitive this year, especially once teams can complete their full roster (in particular, NMU’s women’s team was missing quite a few athletes as they were quarantining after traveling from Europe). The next race weekend will take place at Al Quaal, in Ishpeming, MI in 2 weekends.

MTU CXC Cup Holiday Championships Review

CCSA News, Race Results

While the kickoff to the season was delayed, it finally started in Houghton this past weekend with the MTU CXC Cup Holiday Championships. There was a more unique format than most weekends, with 2 individual start sprints on Saturday, and an individual start distance race on Sunday. With many Eastern colleges being online this year, Midwest racing is very competitive this year, with extra competitive athletes in the field. Many schools are also currently missing top athletes, being home for the holiday break.

MTU’s Mitch Delong

First up on Saturday were the Women’s Classic Sprints, with Northern Michigan University’s Malin Börjesjö, taking an upset win over region legend professional skier, Caitlin Gregg. Michigan Tech’s Anabel Needham was the 2nd CCSA skier, with NMU’s freshman Gretchen Haggenmiller right behind her. “Coming into the weekend I was nervous, but also very excited,” wrote sophomore Needham. “First races of the season are always scary because it’s the first mark of how training has paid off from the previous months”. On the men’s side, NMU’s Tobi Moosman started the morning off strong, taking the lead over teammate Kjetil Bånerud. Ryan Steger of the College of Saint Scholastica claimed his first CCSA podium of his career.

Ryan Steger of CSS

Later in the afternoon, Malin Börjesjö once again led the CCSA women in the skate sprint, placing 2nd in the Senior women’s field to Caitlin Gregg by less than a 2nd. Anabel Needham once again took 2nd, this time taking a sweep of the U20 podium with her MTU freshmen teammates Olivia Laven and Johanna Craig. On the men’s side, NMU took the sweep in the afternoon, with Tobi Moosman, Kjetil Bånerud, and freshman Kristoffer Karsrud besting a strong men’s field. “I was super excited to do my first race for NMU,” said Karsrud, “College skiing is new to me and it was a great experience”.

NMU’s Kjetil Banerud and MTU’s Aleski Leino

On Sunday, the women raced an individual start 10k, and Malin Börjesjö, once again dominated the field, showing she’s the one to beat this season. MTU’s Olivia Laven continued her strong debut with 2nd, followed by teammate Anabel Needham. “It was awesome to have so many people helping with this event and coming out [this] weekend,” says Needham, “Each race this year will be a gift, and we are so lucky to participate. I’m looking forward to racing again, and giving it my best effort!” Kjetil Bånerud took his first CCSA win of the season in the men’s 15k skate. Teammates Patrick Acton and Mark Ousdigian topped off MTU’s strong weekend with 2nd and 3rd.

Johanna Craig of MTU

The next races are January 16th and 17th in Cable, Wisconsin at the Birkie Trail Head.

CCSA 2020-2021 Season Preview

CCSA News

The world has turned upside down since NCAAs ended abruptly last spring, but teams around the region have proved what they are best at- being flexible and staying positive despite the change. Covid regulations have changed practice regulations, prompting teams to train in smaller groups, with masks, and adding restrictions to some school’s ability to travel this winter. After a successful season for the region last year, we checked in with teams across the region to see how they’ve been faring this fall! 

CSS Athletes after the Halloween Team sprints

The College of Saint Scholastica

After a record-breaking season in the winter of 2020, CSS continues to grow their squad, with a whooping 14 freshman athletes this season. Some freshman to watch include, Maggie Whitaker, Maj-Liz Helmer, Mia Case, Abby Ellenbecker, Joseph Walling, Hayden Ulbrich, Ben Boelter, Ben Boelter, and Chase High. Top returning athletes for Saint Scholastica are Ryan Steger, John Schwinghamer, Lars Dewall, Bjorn Larson, Emma Stertz, Sam Benzing, Mae Barnes, and Rana Kraftson. Head Coach, Maria Stuber has said that their biggest goal shift is that they are working to be adaptable in the time of covid. “We are focused on how we can do the best we can with what we’ve got on any given day recognizing what we’ve got can change daily. Our expectations for each other are just as high with a little extra compassion and care. We are adding questions to our curriculum like, who are we if we can’t compete? And How does this pursuit of excellence in skiing contribute to that?” 

Despite the circumstances, CSS has been having lots of safe and fun workouts, including a Halloween Team Sprints- with lots of costumes and head-to-head competition. 

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan has a legacy of success, and with a strong returning roster on both the men’s and the women’s teams, they will be ones to watch once again this season. Leading the men’s squad is Zak Ketterson, who is returning from a redshirt season last year, and Kjetil Banerud, who finished 2nd in the CCSA point rankings last season. On the women’s side, top returning CCSA athlete is Malin Bojesjo is leading the team, followed by the NCAA qualifiers Molly Miller (who made the Canadian National Ski Team this past summer) and Nadine Matter. Padding the team are freshman Gretchen Haggenmiller, Copper Lennox, and Kristoffer Karsrud. 

GB Athletes with U.S. Ski Team Director Bryan Fish earlier this fall

Green Bay

Green Bay has had a lot of changes since last spring, including their new Director of Nordic Skiing Lee Reinke. “The fall has been difficult not knowing what the next week was going to bring as Wisconsin, unfortunately, had high positive COVID numbers. We have kept our heads up and continued to look forward to whatever the ski season brings”, said Reinke. Despite having restrictions for the athletes, Green Bay has been working on rebuilding their team, with the additions of Grace Collier, CJ Young, and Ryan Thieme. Green Bay is simply hopeful they will be able to compete this season as they have been limited to outdoor workouts due to COVID this fall.

Saint Olaf 

Olaf had a strong ending to their season, with dominant team performances at the USCSA Nationals in Lake Placid, New York. The majority of that team is coming back, with USCSA Champ Erica Meyers leading the women’s squad, and Henry Wortman, Kieran Mullen, and Peter Carlen on the men’s team. Julia Everet , Christina Rohrer, Ali Seaton, Helen Olson, Bailey VanderWilde , and Julia Biship are strong additions to the the women’s team and Forest Forsey and Eric Crosby Lehman join the men’s team. This season, Saint Olaf will not be participating in CCSA races due to the University’s covid restrictions, but they hope to demonstrate the improvement athletes have been showing in some form of race this winter. 

St Cloud

Covid took a toll on the St Cloud team this year. “New athletes were in question this year due to Covid whether they would attend SCSU or school in general. Unfortunately it did not work in favor for the university” said head coach Mike Schroden. “Lastly, the women’s Nordic [team] opted for the Covid NCAA opt out this year. So I will be attending races as a recruiter to increase the skier population at SCSU”. 

MTU athletes during a harder workout

Michigan Tech

MTU had a very strong season last year, and they have been continuing to show their depth this fall. “One of the greatest aspects of our team this year on both the women’s and men’s squads is that we haven’t had just one standout student-athlete. We incorporated frequent benchmark performance tests this fall for competition development and training motivation, and we saw different student-athletes step up to the plate,” said head coach Tom Smith. Standouts have included Anabel Needham who has been “crushing it in everything”, and Mary Lyon who “did more dips in the strength test than all of the men” and on the men’s side, Reid Goble and Patrick Acton will be forces to be reckoned with this winter. “At large our team has had a more consistent fall training than any of the past years we’ve been coaching with the Huskies. This is in part due to the pandemic as everyone has focused on staying healthy first and this has certainly paid off in consistency of training”. As for favorite workouts, “top of the list was our 5k uphill running time trial up Mt. Baldy. The best fall colors we’ve yet to experience in the Keweenaw, and no better way to experience this than to race to the top!” 

New UWBG Director of Nordic Skiing: Lee Reinke

CCSA News

Coaching turnover in sports programs often includes lots of philosophy changes, alteration to training plans, and switching up recruitment strategy. But recently, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay has brought in one of the biggest coaching changes in recent CCSA history. 

New Green Bay Director of Nordic Skiing Lee Reinke

When Jeremy Hecker left the position of UWGB’s Head Coach last spring, it was a major loss to the program. Hecker who had experience working with one of the best professional teams in the U.S. (Stratton Mountain School), along with international coaching experience in Australia and Finland was making efforts to grow the program and had sent one woman to the NCAA National Championships both years he was at UWGB. Despite announcing his departure in the spring, the Nordic Skiing Head Coach Position was not filled until late this summer, and it ended by being an unconventional pick by the UWGB Athletic Department. 

Photo from NMU Athletics

The new selection, Lee Reinke, has many years of coaching experience under him. He is entering his fifth year at Green Bay and has experience building programs from the ground up. The plot twist is that Reinke is currently the Director of Men’s and Women’s Golf, alongside his new position as Director of Nordic Skiing at UWGB.

Photo from NMU Athletics

Reinke started in college athletics as a DIII golfer and basketball player at Wisconsin Lutheran College where highlights of his student-athlete career included 1,000 points scored in basketball and a conference championship win in golf. He then owned and operated his own golf course for 17-years before the opportunity arose to coach collegiate golf at UWGB. Despite having only previously coached golf at the high-school level, Reinke believed he could step up to the challenge. “Golf is played the same at any level and I feel like I can relate with [collegiate] student-athletes very well.” 

Photo from NMU Athletics

Lee Reinke’s methods were based on teaching organization, recruiting, fundraising, and his passion for the athletes. He created more training trip opportunities for the teams, established an indoor training simulator for golfers to practice in the winters, and recruited some of the best talent in the Midwest. His efforts quickly became visible when his own son took 3rd in the Conference, the first time a Phoenix had podiumed since 2012. Reinke’s first recruiting class produced the Horizon League Champion and NCAA Qualifier in 2019, along with setting the program record for the best 18-hole and 36-hole team scores. 

Photo from NMU Athletics

When the Athletic Director approached Lee Reinke this summer and asked if he would consider taking over the Nordic Ski Team, Reinke naturally had some concerns. “I can coach golf, but I am not a coach of nordic skiing. I do however bring attributes that will help the nordic teams and with getting the right assistance, my hope is we can continue to develop the rich tradition that previous coaches before I have built”. UWGB Nordic Team started practices the second week of September, and while his knowledge of skiing may be limited, Reinke’s passion for the athletes and coaching is obvious. “He is working really hard to come to all of our practices and to learn what he can while working with the seniors on the team and last year’s schedule.” says freshman CJ Young, “It’s working out well.” Reinke has been meeting and interviewing with people within the ski community, working on absorbing information, learning things, and working on gaining interest for a knowledgeable assistant and volunteer coaches for the team. “I do not know Nordic Skiing, but I am going to be involved. I care, I care about them [the athletes] a lot. And I think they have come to realize that in the last two weeks. They know I have their back. We are looking to build, but I am not naïve, it will take time.” 

Photo from NMU Athletics

Reinke’s involvement looks to be a promising addition to the program. Having roots already in the UWGB athletic department and expressing he wants to stick around for at least another ten or so years will add the stability this program has not seen in a long time. The team’s roster size is currently very small, so Reinke’s drive for recruiting along with his priority of fundraising is promising for the growth of the organization. However, what stands out most is Lee Reinke’s passion to connect with these athletes and take on this challenge. “Even if I know nothing about skiing, I am asking them just to give me a shot and them to trust me. I pull no punches and in the last two weeks, I’ve learned a lot. I also know I have 10 years of learning ahead of me. We are going to have a totally different conversation based on my ski knowledge in five years- heck, I might even be on skis!” 

NCAA Preview: Who to Watch

CCSA News

NCAAs is March 12th and 14th in Bozeman, Montana. CCSA Teams are already making their way out West, a week and a half in advance, to adjust to the altitude, as Bozeman approaches 5,000 feet above sea level. The Central region had 8 men’s spots and 7 women spots for Nations this year, based on the previous year’s results, but each team is only allowed to send a maximum of three athletes. Both Northern Michigan University and Michigan Technological University are sending full mens and women teams to NCAAs, while the College of Saint Scholastica sends two men and the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay sends one woman.

Sarah          Tamer

The CCSA is sending a strong crop of athletes to compete against the best collegiate athletes in the United States. There are quite a few athletes from the Central Region who look to be in the running to grab an All American place at this NCAA National Championship (Top 10 in either race). The top 10 in the Central Region on both the men’s and the women’s side has been very close all season, but there are some standouts who have a chance of making a splash on the big stage.

ReidNadine

On the men’s side, Mathias Rolid (NMU) finished the season with a big bang, being the leader in the Region’s point’s list and coming away with the most amount of wins. Expect to see him high up on the results list in both the 10k skate race and the 20k classic mass start, as he has been the most consistent athlete this season. Right on his heels, be on the lookout for Kjetil Bånerud (NMU). He has already proven that he can not only compete well at altitude but also at NCAAs, as he was an All-American in 2018 when NCAAs was in Steamboat. Bånerud started the season out with a bang, and was undefeated in the CCSA for the earlier part of the season, but was swept under the rug in the second half of the season when Rolid went on his rampage. Nonetheless, Bånerud should not be underestimated. He still finished 2nd in the CCSA points and is a fierce racer and competitor, so expect to see a standout performance from him in either the skate or classic race. Another skier to watch is CSS’s Emil Book Bratbak. Bratbak had a very solid season, finishing it off with a win at the NCAA Central Regional Championships, the first Regional win for CSS ever. Anticipate Bratbak to have a strong and tactical race in the 20k Classic Mass Start. Wildcards include the MTU duo of Reid Goble and Patrick Acton. This is each Goble’s and Acton’s 2nd NCAA appearances, and they both have popped out strong performances this season.

PattyMolly

 On the women’s side, it is just as much of a toss-up. Malin Bojesjo makes her NCAA debut, and she could have strong performances in either the 5k skate race or the 15k classic race, as she leads the Central women in points from the season. She has been the most consistent female competitor this season, so we put our bet on Bojesjo at for having a knockout performance at Nationals. Sarah Goble (MTU) and Amanda Kautzer (MTU) are both NCAA veterans in this CCSA women’s field, but they, along with the Canadian freshman, Molly Miller (NMU) will fight exhaustion and jet lag as they arrive back to the US from U23/World Junior National Championships in Germany. Nonetheless, expect Goble to have an assertive 5k skate race, and Kautzer to stand out in the 15k classic race.

 MathiasOda

At US Nationals in Houghton, Michigan, in January, the CCSA teams had really strong showings, with 3 men teams in the top 6 and 2 women teams in the top 3 in the College Cup. Not all of the Eastern and Western teams had their full squads, but it gives a decent prediction that the Central Region competitiveness within the NCAA is only growing year after year.

EmilMalin

 Outside the CCSA

Expect the Western Conference (Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association) to look very strong this spring. Based on this season’s results, virtually, any member of the University of Utah’s Men’s Nordic Ski Team could win a National title on a given day. Especially strong is American Luke Jager (who just nabbed a top 10 at World Juniors), Samual Hendry, and Maximilian Bie. Also, keep an eye on the University of Colorado’s Magnus Boee and UAA’s Sigurd Roenning. In the Eastern Conference, one men’s team stands out, and that is the University of Vermont. Compiled by Karl Schulz, Bill Harmey, Matias Oevrum, and Ben Odgen,  UVM could put their whole team of three in the top 10 of the NCAA on a good day, and it will be interesting to see the Kings of EISA match up with the Western and Central schools. Also, keep an eye out for Remi Drolet (Harvard). This freshman is known for competing well in high stakes situations, and he may be able to pop out a strong race despite the odds.

 LaraDonny

Similar to the men, the RMISA women are very strong. The CU and UU’s women team are especially strong, with Leah Lange (UU), Guro Jordheim (UU), and Anne Siri Lervik (CU) making strong statements throughout the season. Eveliina Piippo (DU) also finished her season very strong, so she may be one to look out for at Nationals. It would also be impossible not to bring up the returning Skate NCAA National Champion, Julia Richter (UU), as a strong contender.

 Amanda Aleksi

  The other returning National Champion hails from the Eastern side of the NCAA, with the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association. Katerine Ogden, a 3-time NCAA National Champion is leading a very strong Dartmouth team that has been having performances in the Eastern Carnivals.  Alexandra Lawson and Sophia Laukli have been nipping on Dartmouth’s toes with a stacked up and coming Middlebury team, and Evelina Sutro (UVM) should be one to watch out as well at the NCAA National Championships.

Kjetil

The countdown for NCAA begins!!

CCSA Recap: NCAA Central Regional Championships

CCSA News, Race Results

Teams brought warm weather into Ishpeming, Michigan this past weekend for the final weekend of CSSA racing in the Midwest. Competing for the final positions for NCAAs, teams fought hard in the final weekend. In the women’s 5k skate on Saturday, it was a close battle up until the line, with Malin Börjesjö (NMU) nabbing the win over teammate Molly Miller (NMU) by just 3 seconds. Sarah Goble (MTU) was just .3 seconds behind Miller to take 3rd. In the men’s 10k, Mathias Rolid (NMU), and Kjetil Bånerud(NMU) were just .1 of a second apart after the first 5k, but in the second half of the race, Rolid finished up his strong CCSA season by putting 8 seconds on Bånerud. Reid Goble (MTU), who was 7th after the first lap, had a similar race strategy to Rolid. “On Saturday’s skate race, I started off at a comfortable pace and felt strong going into the second lap so I really focused on making up time and ended up in third place”.

 

Women's field in the 15k

Women’s field in the 15k

The men had the cooler temperatures on Sunday, benefiting them in the form of faster tracks and easier kick waxing. A fairly big pack stayed together for the first half of the race before the leaders began to spread out. “On Sunday’s classic race the pace for the first half was relaxed and going into the third lap I decided to push it and broke away along with three others,” Goble said. On the last lap, Emil Book Bratbak (CSS) and Kjetil Bånerud broke away from the rest of the field, and had a battle to the finish, with Bratbak taking the win in the finishing stretch- CSS’s first-ever Regional Championship win.

 

Bratbak's first Regional Win

Bratbak’s first Regional Win

The women struggled with quickly rising temperatures, and with half of the racing course being in the woods and half being in a field, it was inconsistent waxing conditions. Similar to the men, the women had a strict pack for the first 10k until Hilde Eide (NMU) and Malin Börjesjö made a break for the win right after the pack went through the stadium. Börjesjö took a fall on one of the downhills of the course on the last lap, leaving Eide to take her 2nd CCSA win. Nadine Matter (NMU) finished 2nd, Sarah Goble was 3rd, and Bojesjo took 4th. “I think this course is one of the hardest courses I have ever skied, but I enjoyed it. The classic was different from [previous] races because it was a klister race and I think everyone had problems with icing skis. I personally had to stop a few times to remove the snow on my skis because I couldn’t move”. Green Bay’s Lara Ketterer said.

Eide watching the women battle it out for the podium

Eide watching the women battle it out for the podium

While the CCSA racing season is over, CCSA athletes still have plenty of racing to do! Amanda Kautzer (MTU), Sarah Goble (MTU), Molly Miller (NMU), and redshirt skier Zak Ketterson (NMU) are all competing at the Junior World Championships/ U23 World Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, starting February 29th. 8 men and 7 women have qualified from the NCAA Central Region for the NCAA National Championships in Bozeman, Montana, March 12th and 14th and several CCSA athletes will also compete at Jr Nationals in Northern California in early March!

Photos from NMU Athletics

Photos from NMU Athletics

CCSA Recap: Conference Championships

CCSA News, Race Results

Championship Season has begun, and it started off with a bang in Houghton, Michigan with the CCSA Conference Championships! Throughout the season, individuals and teams are competing for NCAA Qualifying Points, to gain a spot at Nationals in Bozeman, Montana this upcoming March. Based on the previous year’s CCSA performances at NCAAs, the men have 8 qualifying spots, and the women own 7 (each team is limited to only 3 athletes at NCAAs). As the season goes on, the points from each race are more heavily weighted, putting more pressure on these Championships races- this past weekend at Conference Championships, and next weekend at Regionals.

The men on the first uphill of the mass start

The men on the first uphill of the mass start

This weekend in Houghton saw the same format from all season (and the same we’ll see at NCAAs), with a 5k/10k skate race Saturday, and a 15k/20k classic race Sunday. On Saturday, Mathias Rolid (NMU) took his fourth CCSA win of the season in the men’s 10k, besting teammate Kjetil Bånerud by 13 seconds. “I got in a very solid training block after the races in Rhinelander so I was excited to see how my body felt after all of that volume” Rolid commented after the weekend, “The skate race was pretty hard. I started early in the A seed group and decided to go out fast, down and up the hairpin climb. I got some back splits that said it was a close race between Kjetil and me, so I had to push hard all the way in. I feel like I paced it well and overall it was a very good race”. Reid Goble (MTU) added onto his already strong season with another podium finish, finishing just a second in front of Xavier Mansfield (NMU).

Women fighting during the mass start

Women fighting during the mass start

In the women’s 5k, Nadine Matter (NMU) took her first-ever CCSA win and leading an NMU sweep on the podium, as Malin Börjesjö and Molly Molly finished within the same second. Amanda Kautzer (MTU) has been one of the most consistent forces out on the course this winter, finishing in 4th, “On Saturday, I wasn’t feeling very good before the races, but when I started and realized how fast my skis were, I knew it was going to be a good day. I was hoping to be on the podium, it didn’t quite have the gas on the last climb to quite get there”.

The chase pack during the men's mass start

The chase pack during the men’s mass start

In Sunday’s 20k Classic Mass Start, Mathias Rolid (NMU) continued his reign with a dominating win. “The 20km mass start race was an interesting one. A cold day with some light snow coming down before the start. It stopped snowing right before the start, but the tracks were not skied in. Therefore, the first lap was very tactical, because no one wanted to take the lead. It was very difficult to ski away at that point. However, after we had raced one lap around the course the tracks became a lot faster.” Right before the last lap, Rolid took control and broke away, and ended up finishing a whopping minute and 11 seconds ahead of the field. Aleksi Leino (MTU) took 2nd, claiming his first CCSA podium after struggling with some injuries earlier in the year. “My strategy was just to keep myself in top positions, but not to lead because it was so much easier behind someone. I was feeling good from the beginning and first two laps, we were skiing pretty slowly. I lost my pole tip at 4k but thanks for Adam Witowski, I got a new one pretty soon. Then I was just hanging with the group until 2k before the finish, I put it all in and that was enough for second position”. Nick Matelich (CSS) scrambled for 3rd, also claiming his first CCSA podium, claiming credit to fast skis and having fun.

Matelich after his third place finish

Matelich after his third-place finish

In the women’s 15k mass start race, the ladies had a competitive race, with the top 8 ladies striking out a competitive battle. “I felt very confident racing on our home course”, runner-up Kautzer said, “The race did not split up as much as I anticipated, but there was no one else really pushing the pace out front, so I ended up leading more in the race than I have in any other mass start. I felt really good going into the last lap, and even into the last hill but unfortunately got tangled with Malin [Börjesjö] and broke a binding, which is what cost me the win today”. “I felt good this entire weekend” commented Börjesjö, “But it was not a fair fight for the finish today, and I hope for a new fair fight with Amanda next weekend”. Molly Miller grabbed another 3rd place finish, wrapping up a very successful weekend after she returned from the Canadian World Junior Trials (where she qualified for World Juniors).

The dual between Kauzter and Bojesjo

The dual between Kauzter and Börjesjö

Next weekend is the final CCSA race in Ishpeming, Michigan. It looks to be a very warm weekend with highs of 38 degrees F both Saturday and Sunday.

CCSA Recap: UWGB Invite

CCSA News, Race Results

A warm weekend in Rhinelander, Wisconsin wrapped up the last racing block for the CCSA before the Championship races. Races got switched to the Classic Mass Start on Saturday and Skate Individual Start on Sunday to make classic waxing easier, as Sunday had incredibly warm temperatures. This weekend, was a standardized glide wax weekend for the CCSA, so on Sunday, teams only had to worry about kick wax in the unpredictable temperatures.

The women leaders in the 15k

The women leaders in the 15k

The women thinned out right away in their 15k race, with four women, Hilde Eide and Malin Borjesjo of NMU and Sarah Goble and Amanda Kautzer of Tech in a lead pack at the end of the first lap. Eide dropped off of the lead pack just after 10k, and Borjesjo took the lead in the last 2k to grab her 2nd college win of the season. “this weekend was a little bit of revenge for me” Bojesjo commented, “I have felt good on race weekends before, but everything has not worked at the same time. This weekend, it did”.

The temperatures were expected to warm up for the men’s race, but temperatures rose a little more than expected when the sun made an appearance about 20 minutes before the men’s start. Some teams made a quick change of kick wax before the races, opting for zero skis- which seemed to be the best case in the rapidly warming afternoon, as the top three men were on zeros. Zak Ketterson, Kjetil Baanerud, Mathias Rolid (NMU) and Emil Book Bratbak broke away on the first lap, with Reid Goble and Patrick Acton chasing them down. “The classic race went out at a good pace but I unfortunately lost contact with the lead on the A climb and then fought the rest of the first lap to get on the back of Reid,” Acton said, “We skied laps 2 and 3 together, switching off leading on the terrain we were respectively stronger on. Going into the last lap, I felt good and knew that [Daniel] Streinz [NMU} was within striking distance of us so I focused on pushing through the early parts of that lap and then carried it through the A climb and the final kick to the finish”. Ketterson broke away from Baanerud and Rolid on the final A climb, and Rolid just out sprint Baanerud on the final climb of the race, nabbing the college win. “I came into this weekend in Rhinelander feeling pretty good,” Rolid wrote after the races, “It was nice to have my roommate Zak on the start line for the classic race, and together with Kjetil we decided to make this 20k as hard as possible to prepare for NCAAs. It was brutal but it ended up being a good race for me”. Emil Book Bratbak had another strong performance to finish 3rd for the CCSA, Patrick Acton was 4th, Daniel Streinz had one of his strongest races of the season to finish 5th, and Reid Goble was 6th.

Goble and Acton in the men's 20k

Goble and Acton in the men’s 20k

Although it was warmer temperatures on Sunday, the course firmed up enough during the night, for the skate races to be fast. Once again, the CCSA had standardized glide wax, but many athletes were feeling Saturday’s battle. The women’s race again was first and was very close all throughout the 2 laps. Malin Borjesjo skied away from the field, finishing over 20 seconds in front of Henriette Semb (MTU), and Hilde Eide took 3rd. “I enjoyed the courses in Rhinelander” Bojesjo expressed, “They were tough but it allowed you to ski big and relax, which fits me. I changed my past week of training, to trade a speed session for my normal mid-week intervals so I could work on my weaknesses, and it helped me give me energy”. Semb, who is ranked 4th in the CCSA points list after this weekend, was pleased with her weekend. “It was a fun and technical course with a lot of transitions so I tried and work well over the tops of the hills. I also paced the race well and pushed it all to the finish line.”

Women's 5k Skate

Women’s 5k Skate

The course did not change much for the men’s race, and Mathias Rolid took the charge. I could really feel the classic race from the day before when I was warming up. I felt really flat, so I knew it was all about finding that pace I could hold for 10k. It was a challenging course with no rest, so my focus was on a steady pace off the line, for even splits on all four laps. I was always riding the edge of how much lactic acid I could handle, and my coaches didn’t really tell me how I was doing so I was fighting for every second!” Emil Book Bratbak grabbed his second podium of the season after being caught by Rolid and drafting off of him for the majority of the race, and Kjetil Baanerud took third. Patrick Acton nabbed his second 4th place finish of the weekend, putting him in 4th in the overall CCSA Point rankings. “Quite pleased with 2 fourth-place finishes on a weekend, especially when 1-3 were Norwegian men who were really strong at this point in the season. Looking forward to being back in Houghton in a couple of weeks!”

Strong performances by Ole Tyler Radtke, with his first top 10 finish

Strong performances by Ole Tyler Radtke, with his first top 10 finish

Team results are still close, as the Michigan Tech women have gone back and forth in team points with Northern Michigan the last couple of weekends, and the Michigan Tech men and Saint Scholastica men have been back and forth. Teams get a week break before the Conference Championship, back in Houghton, Michigan.