By Penny Smyth, Nordic Ski Center Communications & Fundraising Administrator
Published: March 27, 2023
The Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Team continues to make headlines as they close out the 22/23 season with remarkable performances in local, national, and international competitions.
Sunday, March 26 marked the end of the race season for the Elite team with the final World Cup and SuperTour races. It also brought a close to the World Cup race career for APU’s Hailey Swirbul who represented APU and the United States at two World Championships and the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Learn more about Swirbul’s recent retirement announcement here.
The final weeks of the World Cup not only featured the World Championships, but a historic moment as well for female racers as the International Federation De Ski voted to allow female racers the opportunity to race a 50km race, the same as the men do each year. This was a significant event for women’s cross-country skiing. The race took place at the historic Holmenkollen course, which is one of the largest races that Europe hosts throughout the year. Rosie Brennan finished 13th and Swirbul finished 25th overall. Three APU men also competed and finished as top Americans back-to-back with David Norris in 17th, Scott Patterson in 18th, and Hunter Wonders in 23rd in the 50km race!
View the full USS race results here.
Swirbul, who is coming fresh off her best-ever World Championships results, commented,
“Guess who gets to race the Holmenkollen 50km in just a few days? The women!” said Swirbul. “I am so stoked to be a part of it, our team is going to slay and it will be such a memorable experience to be a part of the first 50km for women on the World Cup. Let’s go!”
Brennan commented on the season, “It has been an absolute whirlwind since World Champs. I packed up what was my home base for the season in Italy and headed north for the last month of racing. It all started with Holmenkollen which was the first 50km for women on the World Cup. Equally intimidated and excited, Holmenkollen did not disappoint. I was bummed to not have the legs or skis I had hoped for on the day so it was a brutally hard 50k for me, however, I was inspired by the experience and thrilled to take part. Since then, we have had a lot of fast and furious racing. I’ve been in a battle in the Overall World Cup so I have been throwing my hat in the rind for every race. It’s definitely been hard to have the power and energy in all the races after such a long season so there have certainly been some good races and bad races. I have one more week of World Cup racing in Finland and then I head to northing Norway to race the Ski Classics Finals with Team Robinson Trentino and Tyler.”
Photo: Rosie Brennan racing the 50km World Cup Holmenkollen Race
As part of our Elite team finished the World Cup Circuit, the other half was finishing out the SuperTour Circuit in Craftsbury, Vermont for Spring Nationals and the SuperTour final. From rain to sunshine, the team and coaches had a lot of time prepping skis for variable spring weather ski conditions. APU had continual top 10 placements for our men’s team with our women’s skiers finishing top 10 in the Junior categories!
Congratulations to APU Skiers Lily Pannkuk, Marit Flora, Natalie Hood, Kelsey Johannes, Garrett Butts, Derek “Buster” Richardson, Thomas O’Harra, Zanden McMullen, and Michael Earnhart for the finish of their race season. Eva Weymuller, APU’s biathlete, raced in the U.S. Biathlon National Championships in Casper, Wyoming finishing 3rd in the sprints and 2nd in the pursuit!
SuperTour results are available here.
US Biathlon national championship results are available here.
Tour of Anchorage & Oosik Classic
Early March in Alaska means two things for the local ski community: The Tour of Anchorage and Oosik Classic Ski race!
The Tour of Anchorage this year can only be described as “amazing trail conditions” and a “beautiful day!” We couldn’t agree more, and we are so proud of all APU Nordic skiers who raced along with everyone else in the community who was part of the day! Congrats to our men’s 50km finishers Thomas O’Harra in 1st and Michael Earnhart in 2nd, and women’s 5okm finishers, APU Alumni Rosie Frankowski in 1st, and Holly Brooks in 2nd.
There are so many who participate in the Tour of Anchorage, including some of APU’s very own staff and facility (shout out to Ben Hahn, APU Dean of Students) Additionally, APU helps to sponsor the race by having the 25km start at the soccer fields on APU campus. Raina Panarese and her team do an incredible job prepping the start and helping to assist the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage with the race. It’s a true community event, and it’s one of our favorites every year for many of these reasons. Our skiers thank APU for their help and contribution to this time-honored tradition for Anchorage!
The Oosik Classic race is another favorite amongst the APU community, and the weather did not disappoint! It was a beautiful day in Talkeetna for the race. Congratulations to everyone who finished. Lots of APU was represented. In the men’s 50k coaches Forrest and Galen fought it out for 1st and 2nd with elite team alumni Eric Packer and Logan Hanneman taking 3rd and 4th. In the women’s 50k elite team Alumni Rosie Frankowski took the win. Representing the APU masters Aurelie Barnel took the win in the women’s 25k with many more community members shuffling through the beautiful lakes and trails of Talkeetna!
One fun tid bit: APU Alumni and Current APU Coach, Forrest Mahlen, raced both the Tour of Anchorage and Oosik classic by double polling each race and he did it! And not just that, he won the Oosik!
Learn more about Tour of Anchorage here.
Junior National Championships
Over spring break, APU had over 13 skiers race in the Junior National Championships held in Fairbanks, AK. Some of our elite team and soon to be early honors students raced alongside other junior level racers representing team Alaska!
This year, it was time for Alaska to host the Junior National Championships, which took place at Birch Hill in Fairbanks. APU Nordic Ski coach, Eliza Rorabaugh is also a coach with West Highschool and commented: “It was super cool to see how the athletes really bonded over their share goal and high school. Athletes from different clubs came together and supported each other and really believed in each other. What really stood out to me is how invested they were in the success of their teammates. After races in the high school season, as well as at Junior Nationals, the athletes would be genuinely stoked if their teammates had a successful race as well as support them if they didn’t finish quite where they wanted to. The comradery of the athletes is what makes coaching both a club (APU) and high school team so cool.” Anchorage’s West High School was the standout in both the Alaska State Championships along with the Junior National Championships from high schools across the nation where many APU skiers race. Congratulations to West who not only won the High School State Championships in all divisions, but West High School was named as top High School Team in the Nation at the Junior Nationals Championships!
Complete race results are available here.
Masters World Cup 2023, Seefeld, Austria
We love seeing APU Blue out in the community, but seeing APU Blue out on the racecourse in Seefeld, Austria for the 2023 Masters World Cup was the highlight of our week! It is because this race has been postponed due to the pandemic that there was excitement from throughout the ski community, but also, our APU Masters rocked it!
Each year, Masters skiers from around the world gather to compete in a world cup event. This serves as a World Championship for any athlete over 30 to compete against the best in the world in their age class. Many of the 5-year span age classes have 50 or more athletes, particularly in the 50–75-year-old age range. This year APU had 4 of our APU Master athletes representing the United States at Worlds: Shannon Brockman, Blase Burkhart, Kathy Christy, and John Wood made the trek to Seefeld, Austria to compete.
Success for our skiers was paramount, even with springlike and challenging conditions. John Wood is bringing home a Silver Medal from his M10 category 5k classic Mass start! To make this even more impressive, John got tangled in a fall at the start leaving him as one of the last competitors to leave the stadium. John also skied such a quick scramble leg for his relay that his teammate was not there to get the tag when he finished. His team finished 4th on the day. Shannon Brockman skied a pivotal 2nd leg of her relay that secured Gold for the USA in their 4x5k event!
We’re super proud of everyone for getting over there and showing just how gritty Alaskans can be on a good old “Championship Day”.
APU NORDIC REGISTATION OPENS APRIL 1
Registration for the APU Nordic Ski Team program opens on April 1. Please stay tuned for information on registration in our next e-blast.