The Central Collegiate Ski Association has launched a Web site that can be accessed at www.ccsaski.com
The site, which went live last week, serves to increase the exposure of the 12-team CCSA by providing Nordic skiing news, results, photos, and more. There are also links to each program’s school Web site for rosters, schedules and other information.
CCSA Preview, part 2
(This is the second of a two-part series profiling the 12
schools in the Central Collegiate Ski Association. Part 2 chronicles the
half-dozen schools from
Part 1 detailed the six programs from
Last season Gustavus Adolphus made school history when
Chandra Daw became the first skier — male or female — to qualify for the NCAA
This year the Golden Gusties of St. Peter, Minn., who tied
for fourth in the CCSA in 2005-06, are hungry for more.
â€œIt was huge to get the first qualifier because it gave
confidence to a lot of our other skiers that they can do it (too),â€ said
third-year coach Jed Friedrich. â€œI think Chandra gave a positive message to the
rest of our skiers, and it motivated the rest of the team for summer training.â€
Daw, since graduated and now coaching at
season when the Central Region had just seven available NCAA spots for women.
With 10 berths to be earned for 2007, the Gusties’ prospects are even better
this season, especially with eight capable women.
â€œIt definitely improves our chances because in the past
couple years we’ve had skiers in the bubble area,â€ said Friedrich, a 2003
get tougher because all of the skiers in the Central Region are getting
The GAC women finished third at the 2006 CCSA Championships,
trailing only powerhouses NMU and the Alaska Nanooks and ahead of larger
schools such as Michigan Tech and
podium position this season.
The all-Minnesota women’s roster consists of senior Ritva
Taipale, juniors Sarah Willis, Kathleen DeWahl and Laura Edlund, sophomores
Allison Bohn, Kelly Chaudoin and Kathryn Ladig and freshman Brynden
â€œI see all of those ladies contending for (NCAA) spots,â€
said Friedrich, who in 2004-05 replaced Scott Jerome, now the coach at Alaska
Fairbanks. â€œIt’s going to be really tight. We have some good competition
intrasquad. At this point I don’t want to rule out anyone.â€
Brynden may miss most of January, however, to compete at the
World Junior Biathlon Championship in
and possibly other events in
â€œShe’s the top junior biathlete in the country right now,â€
Brynden’s brother, Kevin, is also a highly ranked biathlete
for the Gusties.
Kevin, a junior who took the last two seasons off to focus
on biathlon, will compete with nine GAC teammates at the U.S. Nationals Jan.
then also will spend most of January in
Cup level biathlon races.
Friedrich’s goal for the five-person men’s team is to be the
best Division III team in the conference.
â€œThe guys are young and a little bit less experienced, but
they’re dedicated,â€ said Friedrich. â€œThey’ll be competing well against the
other small schools in our region.â€
Due to the lack of snow in
the team has mostly been rollerskiing so far this season, though they have roadtripped
times to ski on man-made snow. They also traveled north to the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan for the Grandview XC Ski Challenge Dec. 9-10.
Though Friedrich has no scholarships to award because GAC is
a Division III school, he said the academic reputation of Gustavus Adolphus
sells many prospective skiers on the school.
â€œGustavus is nice because we’re one of the top academic
institutions of all the ski schools,â€ said Friedrich.
The surprising thing is not that a school in
shocker is that it took so long.
this snow-rich town on
world-class biathlete Chad Salmela is the Saints’ first coach.
â€œThere’s numbers (of skiers),
there’s reliable snow, we’ve got a captive audience. People like
this summer and is assisted by Brad Nelson and volunteer Andre Watt. â€œIf you look at the city of
regularly groomed ski areas just about within walking distance of the (CSS) campus.
It’s a no-brainer to have a college ski program in this town.â€
But until now St. Scholastica and
Salmela aims to put the Saints on the skiing map, but
considering his late hiring and lack of scholarships to work with for the Division
III program, that process may take some time.
â€œTo be quite honest, I had very
little time to even recruit. I wasn’t hired until July,â€ said Salmela, adding
that the team will add a summer training program before next season. â€œFor the
time frame I had, we’re doing really well for our first year.â€
Salmela does have a pair of young
leaders on the men’s team in
Kask is a transfer from
stellar competition at the Grandview XC Challenge Dec. 9-10 in Ironwood, Mich.
Kjorstad, who grew up playing hockey, was 12th in the sprint and 17th
in the classic at the Saints’ inaugural meet.
â€œPutting a guy at NCAAs in the
first year of the program is a tough job, but I’m not shooting for anything
less than at least one of the two guys (making it),â€ said Salmela.
Kjorstad did not begin prep skiing
until his junior year at
â€œIn what can only be described as
one of the most dramatic and meteoric rises to prominence in Minnesota high
school skiing, Tyler improved from near dead last his junior year to second in
the 5-k classic his senior year,â€ the Saints’ Web site touted.
St. Scholastica is inescapably young as 18 of the 24 men and
women listed on the roster are underclassmen.
Freshman Megan Holmes (Gilbert.
and biathlete Ellen Anderson (
lead the women’s team.
â€œThose two girls, if they pop a top 15 (in a CCSA race),
that’s a good step for us,â€ said Salmela.
Holmes, Anderson, Kask and Kjorstad will compete at the U.S.
Nationals Jan. 3-7 in the
Over Thanksgiving break, the team bonded at a weeklong
training camp in West Yellowstone, Mont., then shortly thereafter made history
in its first intercollegiate race.
Competing in a CSS uniform, regardless of place, was a
thrill for the Saints at the Grandview Meet.
â€œWe’re the first generation of
this program,â€ said Salmela. â€œWhen we left and got in the van to go home on
Sunday, I think there was a great sense of pride that we can hold our heads
high as a new program and not get pushed around.â€
After four years of skiing at St. Olaf, Ollie Garrison graduated
from the liberal arts college last spring and headed home to Massachusetts,
unsuspecting of what was about to happen.
A few months later, the 23-year-old boomeranged back to
youngest mentor in the CCSA.
â€œI had no idea (I’d be back). I
really didn’t. I made my peace with the school and went home,â€ said Garrison,
who replaces Kevin Brochman. â€œI’m so glad I got the position and I’ve been
happy with it so far. It’s a great opportunity to be able to do this.â€
Despite his youth, Garrison said being a St. Olaf alumnus is
a major plus.
â€œIt’s a really big advantage. A
lot of coaches spend the first year just getting to know the school,â€ said
Garrison. â€œThat’s what I already have under my belt – just knowing the
athletes, knowing the school, where to train.â€
One former standout teammate he
won’t have around any more, however, is Karl Nygren, who qualified as the lone
Ole for the 2006 NCAA Championships as a freshman but then decided to transfer
participant in five years.
In addition, the team lost
Garrison, at least as a competitor, so the men need to rebuild.
â€œFor the guys, it’s definitely
looking to be a developing year,â€ said Garrison. â€œWe have a bunch of new skiers
coming in who need to take leadership roles. They’re anxious to do it.â€
Senior captain Nels Dyste spent
the fall semester in
to for leadership.
Meanwhile, the anticipated number
two skier, Jim Vaillancourt, came down with mononucleosis and will require time
to return to full strength, said Garrison.
â€œThe guys I’ve got are committed
and they’re good athletes,â€ he said. â€œWe can get somewhere with hard work.â€
For the women, senior Linn Dale
heads the team.
â€œShe’s Norwegian but has been
going to school here the past four years. She went to high school in
for NCAAs this year. I really think she can crack in there.â€
Sophomore Shaina Short (
loss of 2006 standouts Audrey Weber and Bria Schurke.
The Oles have not yet competed this
season but did conduct a weeklong training camp over Thanksgiving in West
Yellowstone, Mont. And the team will send six men and six women to the first
two races at the U.S. Nationals, which begin Jan. 3 in
â€œMy goal as a coach in the next couple
years is to be the best in
said Garrison. â€œAfter that I’m planning to put someone in the NCAAs on a yearly
Located about a 10-kilometer jaunt apart are the
(for men) in Collegeville.
academic program — St. Benedict was founded by Benedictine nuns and
athletic programs, campuses, residence halls and traditions.
They also share the mission of improving on the ski trails
while getting a solid education at schools both ranked in the top three among
Catholic liberal arts institutions in the nation.
â€œOur kids are here because skiing is something they love to
do and they want to race in college,â€ said David Johnson, the seventh-year
coach at both schools. â€œThey happen to also be very bright so what they do in
the classroom is also important for the future.â€
Each school also happens to have talented skiers, including
a foursome at
Wubbels, sophomores Rebecca Mueller and Maggie Donohue and freshman Anna
Roessler, an elite junior biathlete.
â€œI’m guessing that one of them may find their way to the top
of the team,â€ said Johnson. â€œThere’s 10 slots now (for the NCAA Championships),
so there’s a shot now for somebody other than Northern (
I think some of the smaller schools have a chance.â€
At the team’s first competition this season, the Grandview
XC Classic Dec. 9-10 at Ironwood, Mich., Donahue and Roessler led the Blazers
by both finishing in the top seven for the Older Junior division in sprint and
5-k classic races.
â€œIt went very well,â€ Johnson said of the races that most
CCSA schools attended. â€œWe had four women in the OJ finals – one (of them) in
the A finals and three women in the B finals in the sprints.â€
The Blazers and Johnnies also now have NCAA-experience
affiliated with the team as Chandra (Daw) Zeigler, who skied for Gustavus
Adolphus last season and competed at the 2006 NCAAs, will be their assistant
The men at
are a relatively young group led by Minneapolis-area seniors Tom Dehler and Erik
â€œWe would like to break into the top 15 in the region,â€ said
Seniors Seth Spencer (
and Keegan O’Hara (
are also on the 12-man roster.
â€œWe would like to
gain the respect of the rest of the skiers,â€ said Johnson, who will bring a
group to the U.S Nationals Jan. 3-7 in
mission is to be competitive.â€
The more, the merrier for the CCSA, says
coach Jeremy Frost.
With newcomers St. Scholastica from
sits at a healthy 12 teams and Frost says there’s room for further expansion.
used to field varsity squads but now compete on a club level.
â€œI think if those schools wanted
to join, we would definitely welcome them back in,â€ said Frost. â€œThe more teams
we have, the better it is for everyone.â€
Other schools like the
and Minnesota-Duluth only field clubs.
The Minnesota College Cup races, of which there are a
handful this season, aim to bring all the state’s teams together to compete,
regardless of varsity or club affiliation.
which only sports a women’s team, will host one such event on Feb. 10.
The Huskies, as a Division II program (the only one from
are permitted to offer scholarships, and have a half-dozen skiers on their
roster this season.
â€œIt’s a pretty young team, one
junior and all the rest freshman, but it’s a pretty solid base to start from,â€
said Frost, coaching his sixth season. â€œRight now we’re really looking to gain
experience in the CCSA races so that we can see what it is we need to do to
The team’s lone upperclassman is
Stephanie Swenson from nearby
Katy Shaver from
Melissa Walden (
Cassi Leoni (
The reason for
late 1990s to help the school comply with NCAA gender-equity requirements.
Therefore Frost doesn’t foresee the school adding a men’s program anytime soon.
â€œAt this point I don’t think there
has been any talk of that,â€ said Frost. â€œIf the opportunity presented itself we would just be all over
it, but at this point it’s not in the cards. The upside is we’re able to put
all our resources in the women’s side.â€
Because of minimal snow, the team
has done its share of rollerskiing for training this season but also commutes a
couple times a week to ski on man-made snow. On Dec. 9-10, the Huskies traveled
Jan. 3-7, Swenson, Shaver and Walden will compete at the U.S. Nationals in
â€œIt was a great experience. At
this point in the season, you just get real excited to be on snow. We haven’t
had a huge opportunity to do that,â€ said Frost of the Ironwood meet. â€œSwenson
and Shaver advanced in the sprints from the qualifying round. That was great to