Mesa’s Nordic ski team an emerging star
The new kids on the block aren’t on the block.
They’re probably on the ski track, somewhere on Grand Mesa.
These kids, who really aren’t kids, are members of the Mesa State College Nordic ski team. The second-year ski team is a club sport and is funded through the Mesa State athletic department as part of the “emerging sports” program.
Team coach Christie Aschwanden, a freelance writer and editor from Cedaredge and a former Team Rossignol international ski racer, said being a club sport doesn’t lessen the grueling competition of Nordic racing or the demands of intercollegiate athletics.
“The team has been working hard all fall in preparation for the season,” Aschwanden said. “But it’s all so new, we’re just getting started and building for the future.”
The team competes in the Rocky Mountain Conference of the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, which includes 178 colleges from coast to coast and approximately 4,700 men and women competing in downhill and cross country skiing and snowboarding.
“Right now our roster has 12 skiers but we’re still taking new members,” said Aschwanden, who also is president of the Grand Mesa Nordic Council.
She has recruited team members from the college track and cycling teams as well as through the Mesa State College outdoor program.
“As we build the program, we’ll look to doing some recruiting from high schools,” Aschwanden said. “These are still early days for us, but we have a plan for the long run.”
Team captain this year is sophomore Tre Anastasia of Fort Collins. Other “A” team members are sophomores Brooke Bosman, Kelsey Follett and Megan McGrath, along with seniors Amanda Moore and Morgan Moore.
“Tre is looking super-fit and we expect him to be competitive with our league’s top skiers,” Aschwanden said. “Kelsey and Brooke are coming into the ski season strong after both posting outstanding cross-country running seasons with the Mesa State team, and we have some up-and-coming skiers that show great promise.”
Bosman and Follett also compete on Mesa’s nationally ranked cross country running team.
In spite of mild temperatures in the valley until the past few days, there has been plenty of on-snow training on Grand Mesa, Aschwanden said.
“We have been skiing on Grand Mesa since Halloween,” she said. “The skiing has been pretty good that whole time. We also did a bunch of dry land training this fall, mostly rollerskiing.”
The team meets for training sessions three to four times a week in addition to individual training programs for the team members on the other days.
The Mesa State Nordic team will host the Mesa State Invitational on Jan. 30-31. The two-day competition is set for the Skyway Trail head on Grand Mesa. A 1-kilometer sprint race is scheduled for Jan. 30 with a 10-kilometer classic race on Jan. 31.
Aschwanden expects racers from the University of Wyoming, Western State, Air Force Academy, Colorado Mountain College and others.
“Our ultimate goal is to qualify at least one skier for nationals,” Aschwanden said.
She said the club is planning to do some future fundraising to help defray expenses.
The USCSA (U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association) national championships are set for Black Mountain, Maine, on March 2-6.
A list of this season’s races for the Mesa State ski team can be found at http://rmcnordic.wikispaces.com/Race+Schedule.