The Gustavus Adolphus men’s and women’s Nordic skiing teams will open their 2006 seasons by hitting the course at Soldier Hollow, Utah for the USSA U.S. Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, Jan. 7 and Sunday, Jan. 8. Soldier Hollow played host to the skiing competition during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. Women’s 10K and men’s 15K races using the Classic discipline will be contested on Saturday, while women’s 5K and men’s 10K races using the Freestyle discipline will be held on Sunday. The U.S. Nationals also serve as the first of five Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) qualifiers for the 2006 NCAA National Collegiate Skiing Championships.
Senior Chandra Daw (Duluth, Minn.) and junior Nicole Olson (Elk River, Minn.), both two-time letterwinners, will hit the course in both disciplines for the Gustavus women’s team. Daw came on strong toward the end of last season, finishing with a pair of top ten finishes during NCAA Qualifier #4 at Little Falls, Minn. to vault herself into contention for one of seven CCSA slots in the NCAA field. Daw closed out last season with 47 championship points, five points out of a possible NCAA bid. Olson finished with 14 points last season after a pair of top-15 finishes in the freestyle at NCAA Qualifier #4 and the CCSA Regional Championships.
Other returning letter-winners for the Gusties are sophomores Laura Edlund (Forest Lake, Minn.) and Kathleen DeWahl (St. Paul, Minn.). Edlund was the second-highest placing Gustie on the final NCAA/CCSA qualification points list, finishing tied for 14th with 40 points behind top-15 finishes in both disciplines at NCAA Qualifiers at Mount Itaska and Little Falls. DeWahl picked up 21 points to finish 19th on the final points list.
Returnees Kirsten DeVries (Sr., Montgomery Center, Vt.), a 2003-04 letterwinner, and Sarah Willis (Willmar, Minn.) and first-years Kelly Chaudoin (Ely, Minn.) and Kathryn Ladig (Bemidji, Minn.) round out the 2006 squad.
Seniors Erich Ziegler (Crystal Falls, Mich.) and Andy Rishavy (Alexandria, Minn.) are the only returning letterwinners from last season and will be the only Gustavus men’s competitors at the 2006 U.S. Nationals. Ziegler picked up the highest individual finish of any Gustie skier last season with a tenth-place finish in the freestyle race at Little Falls. That result, coupled with a 13th-place finish at Telemark Resort in Cable, Wis. accounted for the bulk of his team-high 25 championship points. He finished the season 22nd on the final NCAA/CCSA qualification points list. Rishavy finished tied for 26th place with 14 points after a strong showing at the 2005 U.S. Nationals, where he finished in the top 20 among CCSA skiers of both the 10K Classic and 15K Freestyle collegiate races.
The teams’ depth should be improved as seniors Chuck Anderson (Plymouth, Minn.) and Jahred Stephens (Hopkins, Minn.) return to the team following a one-year absence. Anderson joined Ziegler and Rishavy as 2003-04 All-MIAC selections, the final year of league competition, while Stephens lettered twice as a member of the Gustavus cross country team.
Junior Scott Kyser (St. Paul, Minn.), sophomore Andy Hedberg (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and freshmen Eli Anoszko (Dousman, Wis.), Daniel Chargo (Minnetonka, Minn.), and Justin Young (Roseville, Minn.) will fill out the 2006 squad.