Gavin Kentch

HomeAuthor Gavin Kentch

Gavin Kentch is a lifelong Alaskan. He skis with the Alaska Pacific University Masters team in Anchorage, plays with his two adorable daughters, and occasionally works as a solo attorney. He has a cat named Marit. He was probably on snow this year before you were.
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This article has been updated with additional information about the Birkie, about all races in Vermont, and about the current state of emergency orders in Anchorage. FasterSkier has previously reported on the significance of FIS points, points earned in races sanctioned by the International Ski Federation that can be used to compare skiers to one another even when they did not engage in head-to-head competition. Under normal circumstances, an athlete’s FIS points are used for...

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2020 has been rough for many of us, at least for those readers who are fans of some or all of civil political discourse, summer training without choking wildfire smoke, or life unhaunted by the specter of a global pandemic. Against a steady drumbeat of bad news, here is some good news: Early-season ski conditions have been favorable in much of the country. Please enjoy this unscientific social media roundup of October and November skiing,...

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The koan that skiers are made in the summer has been around for longer than this website. The related truism, that summer snow time is necessary to effectively compete as a high-level skier come winter, also has a venerable history.  For example, here’s Luke Bodensteiner, writing in Endless Winter about why he had journeyed to a place where “the weather sucks all year long” to ski on the Sognefjellet snowfields in August 1993: “We all...

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ANCHORAGE — The beleaguered ski team at the University of Alaska Anchorage, or UAA, once more finds itself fighting for its continued survival as a competitive program, following last month’s decision by the University of Alaska Board of Regents to tentatively eliminate the alpine portion of the men’s and women’s ski team. As previously reported, the decision facially saves the UAA nordic team: USST national team member JC Schoonmaker and his nordic teammates will not...

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ANCHORAGE — For the second time in four years, nordic skiing has been saved at the University of Alaska Anchorage, following a serious proposal to eliminate the ski team entirely. This time around, the victory is somewhat more of a pyrrhic one, as the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted Thursday to eliminate the alpine portion of the men’s and women’s ski team, unless supporters can raise over a half million dollars in advance...

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Multiple schools in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association are experiencing flux with their nordic coaching staff going into the 2020/2021 ski season, according to representatives from each school. The schools in question are the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Utah, and Montana State University, all of which have well-established nordic programs that placed highly at last year’s NCAA Championships. Neither Anchorage nor Montana State currently has anyone filling this position. Utah has two...

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ANCHORAGE — The U.S. women’s epochal third-place relay finish at the World Cup stop in Gällivare, Sweden, in November 2012 is justly hailed as an inflection point for American skiing: For the first time in American nordic history, this country had four athletes who were all strong enough on the same day to challenge the traditional Scandinavian powers at their own game. The race begins Peggy Shinn’s historical treatment, World Class: The Making of the...

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ANCHORAGE — It’s déjà vu all over again for alumni and supporters of the University of Alaska Anchorage ski team, following the recent announcement that, for the second time in four years, university administration wishes to cut the team for budgetary reasons. A common theme in their current responses is their concern that this time, the cut may stick. To start with, consider what Adam Verrier wrote on his blog four years ago, in November...

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This article has been updated with a link to additional information in an Anchorage Daily News story. ANCHORAGE — The University of Alaska Anchorage announced Wednesday a planned “reconfiguration” of the UAA Athletics Department, which will involve cutting both the men’s and women’s ski teams after the 2020/2021 school year. School leaders will seek approval of their plan, which would also cut men’s hockey and women’s gymnastics, at the upcoming Board of Regents meeting on September...

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This article has been updated to clarify the relationship between the junior races now known as FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships and its precursor, the World Junior Nordic Championships and the European Junior Nordic Championships.  There are, to briefly traffic in the obvious, 60 seconds in a minute. Sixty seconds in a minute; 60 minutes in an hour; 3,600 seconds in an hour. Skiers measure their lives in these increments; we track total yearly training hours,...

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First in a two-part series. Coming next week: The meaning of a single FIS point for national team selection. The recent news that David Norris was not named to the national team by the narrowest of margins, following the application of objective selection criteria tied to an athlete’s position on an overall FIS points world ranking list, has inspired FasterSkier to take a closer look at where these numbers come from. The goal of this...

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You may have noticed that health concerns are on everyone’s mind these days. You may also have noticed that your favorite park/ski trail/hiking trail/bike path is unusually crowded, as a nation of stay-at-home individuals ventures out for fresh air and the undeniable health benefits that physical exercise provides. FasterSkier here compiles some recent popular scholarship on the topics of exercise best practices in the time of coronavirus. FasterSkier explicitly does not give its imprimatur to any...

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You may have heard that the World Cup is returning not only to North America, but also to American soil, within the next few weeks. The world’s best skiers will be contesting sprint races in Québec City on March 14 and 15; a sprint in Minneapolis on March 17; and distance races plus a mixed relay in Canmore on March 20-22. For all six races, including the five across the border, the U.S. has an...

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You may have heard that the World Cup is returning not only to North America, but also to American soil, within the next few weeks. The world’s best skiers will be contesting sprint races in Québec City on March 14 and 15; a sprint in Minneapolis on March 17; and distance races plus a mixed relay in Canmore on March 20-22. For all six races, including the five across the border, the U.S. has an...

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There are certain precepts that permeate Brave Enough, the new memoir by Jessie Diggins: Teamwork is good. So is glitter. Self-belief is important. Training hard pays off. As for substance, I have nothing snarky to say about these morals; nordic skiing, if not the entire world, would be better off if we all felt these things so fervently, and it is engaging to trace the development of these themes in Diggins’s life. But as for...

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https://www.instagram.com/p/B9XFQaIJgAK/ This article has been updated with comments from race organizers regarding the three North American World Cup stops later this month, and with additional information from the Holmenkollen website. * * * A hundred thousand or so Norwegian ski fans will need to change their plans this weekend, after Oslo health and government officials decided Thursday to hold this weekend’s Holmenkollen races without fans due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. A Thursday Instagram post...

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This post will be updated throughout the day with additional information. The last time Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) raced at mid-season U.S. Nationals, it was January 2014. Competing at Soldier Hollow in a series of races designed to choose the American team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Bjornsen captured his last mid-season national title when he won the 15-kilometer classic interval start race. He was followed by Reese Hanneman, Kris Freeman, and Sylvan Ellefson,...

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Midway through the 2020 U.S. Cross-Country Championships in Houghton, Michigan, a couple of things are becoming clear. SMST2 skiers are skiing very well, with podium finishes for Ben Saxton, Alayna Sonnesyn, Sonnesyn again, Kyle Bratrud, and Ian Torchia. APU skiers are skiing well, with podiums for Hailey Swirbul, Erik Bjornsen, and Swirbul again. And 19-year-old Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars has arrived, his brace of podium finishes announcing him as likely the most dominant American junior...

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This post will be updated throughout the day with additional information. At the final SuperTour stop before this week’s Cross-Country Skiing National Championships, Riitta-Liisa Roponen of Finland took the win in a 10-kilometer freestyle interval start race over the fastest Americans in Sun Valley in mid-December. Friday morning, the scene changed to Houghton, Michigan, but the final result was the same, as Roponen (Finland’s Oulon Hiihtoseura club team) covered two laps of the 5 k course...

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A national team uniform for cross-country skiing has to do a lot of things. At the most utilitarian level, it has to wick sweat and aid performance while an athlete pursues one of the world’s most demanding sports at temperatures between –4 F and 40, in steady snow or driving rain or anything in between. At the functional level, it has to let spectators and coaches identify where their athlete is out on the course,...