The Gustavus Adolphus Nordic ski team will open its season this weekend at the Grand View Cross Country Ski Challenge at Wolverine Nordic Ski Club near Ironwood, Mich. Saturday’s action will feature a 1-kilometer freestyle sprint at nearby Big Powderhorn Mountain, while Sunday’s races will feature a 5-kilometer women’s classic race and a 10-kilometer men’s classic race, both at Wolverine Ski Trail.
Gustavus is coming off a season where it sent its first participant (Chandra Daw) to the NCAA National Collegiate Skiing Championships and Head Coach Jed Friedrich is optimistic about the chances of both the Golden Gustie men and women in 2007. “I am extremely proud of how our athletes trained in preparation for this season,” noted Friedrich. “With the work they’ve put in, everyone on this team is excited to see results.”
This season has brought changes in both the classic and freestyle (skate) disciplines. For the next two years, the freestyle race will be shorter than the classic race, which Friedrich believes will be a benefit. “We have some athletes that will certainly take advantage of the shorter skate race,” said Friedrich. “The fact that the longer classic race is a mass start definitely helps our skiers compete with the best.” Overall, Friedrich expects both teams to be balanced.
The Gustavus women’s team is loaded with depth and experience. Seven of the eight skiers on the roster scored points on the CCSA/NCAA Qualification Points List, with three ranking in the top 20. Laura Edlund (Jr., Forest Lake, Minn./Forest Lake), Kathleen DeWahl (Jr., St. Paul, Minn./Central), and Sarah Willis (Jr., Willmar, Minn./Willmar) are each entering their third year of racing on the collegiate circuit and Friedrich expects all of them to make big steps up the rankings list this season. Edlund finished 12th on the final CCSA Qualification Points List last winter and was consistently one of the top performers for the Golden Gustie cross country team this fall. Friedrich considers DeWahl, who finished 16th last season, one of the top sprinters in the region. He notes that her skiing should get stronger as the season progresses after spending the fall as a member of the Gustavus women’s soccer team. Despite not being able to run due to an injury this summer, Willis worked hard to stay in shape and grabbed a varsity spot on the Gustavus cross country team. Friedrich also notes that Kelly Chaudoin (So., Ely, Minn./Ely Memorial), who finished 23rd a year ago, has made big gains in her fitness this season.
The new addition to the women’s team this year is first-year Brynden Manbeck (Fy., Grand Rapids, Minn./Grand Rapids). Manbeck is the top women’s junior (under 21) biathlete in the United States and will be racing at the Junior World Championships in Antholz, Italy, in early February. Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship. Manbeck will be racing in Europe during most of January, but even with her limited collegiate racing schedule this season, she should still make a huge impact. While biathletes stick to using the freestyle technique in competition, Manbeck has had previous success using the classical technique. She was a 2005 Minnesota individual state champion in the discipline.
With 10 selections in this season’s NCAA women’s Nordic field allotted to the CCSA, Friedrich is extremely optimistic about the chances for the women’s team to send at least one skier to the NCAA Championships. Although sending a full compliment of three women to the NCAA’s is not the most likely scenario come March, Coach Friedrich believes in his squad. “[Qualifying three women’s skiers] is a monumental task, going up against a couple of Olympic level skiers, but our women are unbelievably tough,” said Friedrich noting that the team has put forward an incredible amount of hard work and dedication.
The squad lists only five members, but Friedrich believes that the team can compete with other teams in the region despite the limited numbers. Senior Scott Kyser (St. Paul, Minn./Highland Park) and junior Eli Anoszko (Dousman, Wis./Kettle Moraine) return from last year’s squad, while Kevin Patzoldt (Jr., Grand Rapids, Minn./Grand Rapids) returns to the collegiate scene after two years away to concentrate on biathlon. First-years Mark Hartman (White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Area) and Michael Paulson (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) round out the roster.
Patzoldt, an All-MIAC selection in 2004 who is currently seventh on the US Biathlon Senior Men’s National Ranking List, will be competing in Biathlon World Cups in January and will only make it to a handful of qualifying events, but according to Friedrich, if he races well with his limited number of chances, he could have a shot at making it to the NCAA Championships in March.
Kyser finished 37th last season on the CCSA/NCAA Qualification Poins List, while Anoszko placed 43rd in the final table.
Friedrich believes that Paulson, a two-time Minnesota state meet participant, is an extremely talented skier who could make a difference for the men’s team.
After this weekend, the Gusties will be off until Jan. 3-4 when they participate in the United States Cross Country Skiing Championship at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center in Houghton, Mich.
2006-07 Men’s Nordic Skiing Roster
2006-07 Women’s Nordic Skiing Roster
2006-07 Gustavus Men’s Nordic Skiing Schedule
2006-07 Gustavus Women’s Nordic Skiing Schedule
2005-06 Gustavus Men’s Nordic Skiing Roster/Schedule/Results
2005-06 Gustavus Women’s Nordic Skiing Roster/Schedule/Results