ANCHORAGE, AK – The Alaska Nanook men’s and women’s ski teams claimed their fourth consecutive Alaska Nordic Cup title, winning both relay races Sunday afternoon at Hilltop Park in the 6th annual series.
With a one point lead entering the second day of competition (21.5-20.5), the Nanooks knew they needed to win at least one of the two relay races for the overall victory. However, they did one better and swept both races for a combined 28 points, while UAA got 14.
The men took to the trails first in the 3-by-10k classical-classical-skate relay race. Alaska’s lead off guys, junior Einar Often (Tynset, Norway) and freshmen Tyler Kornfield (Anchorage, AK), set the tone from the get-go as they jumped out to the head of the pack after the mass start and opened up an early lead in the first 5k.
Sophomores Erik Soderstrom (As, Sweden) and Henri Soom (Tartu, Estonia) widened the gap in the second leg setting up a powerful finish for the anchors, senior Ray Sabo (Whitehorse, Yukon) and sophomore Alex Morris (Anchorage, AK). The most exciting part of the race saw Morris catch and pass an Alaska Pacific University racer in the final 5k and skate his way across the finish line after Sabo to secure a 1-2 finish for the Alaska men.
The Blue and Gold outraced UAA by over three minutes with a time of 1:31:21.0, while the Seawolves finished the relay in 1:34:31.4.
In the women’s 3-by-5k relay, the Nanooks posted a time of 50 minutes, 53.2 seconds over UAA’s 53:12.3. Freshman Marit Rjabov (Voru, Estonia) and sophomore Theresia Schnurr (Buhlertal, Germany) took off in similar fashion to the Nanook men, edging the UAA skiers for the front of the line. Midway through the first lap, Schnurr overtook APU’s entrant and while Rjabov was passed she stayed within reach.
After being tagged, seniors Julia Pierson (Traverse City, MI) and Aurelia Korthauer (Bonndorf, Germany) went to work and quickly put the Nanooks back in the top two spots. A UAA woman shortened the gap in their second leg and moved into third place behind the Blue and Gold’s racers. Seniors Anna Coulter (Traverse City, MI) and Elisabeth Angeles (Soldotna, AK) attacked the final lap aggressively and Coulter crossed first to secure the sweep. Despite a solid race, Angeles was overtaken by UAA’s final racer in the final 3k and forced to settle for a third place finish.
The Nanooks will rest up and study for finals before the holiday break and return to action after the New Year back in Anchorage, site of the U.S. National Championships to be held Jan. 2-8.