Elite Team Preview: Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team

Gavin KentchNovember 15, 2021
Bridger Ski Foundation athletes, 2021. (photo: courtesy BSF)

Team name and location: Bridger Ski Foundation Nordic Pro Team (BSF); Bozeman, Montana

Coaches: Andy Newell (Nordic Pro Team), Hannah Cole (Post Grad Team)

Current roster: Finn O’Connell, Graham Houtsma, Hannah Rudd, Lauren Jortberg, Leah Lange, Logan Diekmann, Mariah Bredal, Reid Goble, Simon Zink, Erika Flowers

Who’s still on this team, or otherwise involved in American skiing, from when we did this in 2012: No one; Torin Koos and Leif Zimmermann haven’t raced in years, though the third athlete on that team, Sawyer Kesselheim, was the guide for Paralympian Jake Adicoff in Adicoff’s silver-medal performance in the B3 classification 10-kilometer classic in PyeongChang

Bridger Ski Foundation athletes, 2021. (photo: courtesy BSF)

Top results last season: While the SuperTour obviously didn’t happen, BSF sent a strong team to the American Birkebeiner, the closest anyone came to a nationwide domestic field last year. BSF athletes came away with a combined four top-10 finishes in the skate race, including O’Connell in 4th, Flowers in 5th, Jortberg in 7th, and Rudd in 9th. Graham was 12th in this race, and Diekmann 23rd. In the classic race, O’Connell was 11th and Diekmann 15th. O’Connell had a pair of podium finishes in Sun Valley in March 2021, against a loaded regional field with multiple RMISA athletes, and was third in a RMISA race in January. Diekmann tied for first in a RMISA sprint qual in January, while Jortberg was second among the women. Flowers was 6th in a separate January RMISA race. Finally, going back to the ill-fated spring of 2020, Diekmann was scheduled to make his World Cup debut in the Québec City sprints before the races were cancelled, while Flowers was among the starters for the women.

Andy Newell, Bridger Ski Foundation coach, 2021. (photo: courtesy BSF)

Coach’s comments: Andy Newell wrote:

“Off-season training for us has been super fun and productive. I’m really proud of the way the team has come tougher over the past year and a half. It’s always a risk when you create a new team from scratch, you never know what kind of team dynamic will play out. But this group does an amazing job working together, pushing one another, while also showing authentic support. We have a lot of fun.
BSF athletes on snow in Bend, May 2021. (photo: courtesy BSF)
“Our summer preparation started in May with our first ever team Bend camp with the US Ski Team. During the months of June and July we try to focus on solid, steady team training here in Bozeman alongside the BSF collegiate group and comp teams. This is an important time for the Pro Team to connect with the community and the younger members of the BSF club. Since then we have tried to prioritize high quality training camps each month. In August we had a great low altitude training camp in Cable, Wisconsin, an intensity camp with rollerski TT’s in Lake Placid in September, and our annual October training camp with the US Ski Team. I think because last season was so isolating we’ve tried to collaborate with the other elite teams as much as possible and have had a fun time working with Sun Valley, SMS, Team Birkie and others.
“The Pro Team is itching to get on snow and get the season started. We will travel to Canmore in mid-November for more on-snow training and TT’s, then focus on our final preparations for the first SuperTours in the Midwest. The athletes have big goals this year so everyone is excited to return to a legit race calendar. Although we need to prioritize SuperTour racing our ultimate goal with this team is to get everyone racing in Europe whether that’s in World Cup starts, U23s, or other championship races.
Bridger Ski Foundation athletes, 2021. (photo: courtesy BSF)
“Folks can follow along from our team blog.”

Gavin Kentch

Gavin Kentch wrote for FasterSkier from 2016–2022. He has a cat named Marit.

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