Nordic Skiing teams looking ahead to new season

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  • Picture of senior captain Shad Kraftson's skis. Boys varsity head coach Torry Kraftson explains, "Nordic is definitely not an inexpensive sport. As time progresses, there are always new improvements to the equipment and we try to develop different techniques for different types of skiers."

  • Nordic skiers get their skis ready and prepare for the race. Senior Captain Nolan Noer explains, "Getting prepared mentally is a huge part of Nordic skiing. If you can conquer the mental game and prepare yourself, that's huge."

  • Nordic skiers take a couple practice runs through the course before the race. Sophomore Anna Flor says, "It's always important to know what the weather conditions are like before the race, so that there are no surprises while you are racing. Being able to take a couple practice runs helps a lot for your knowledge of the course for that specific day."

  • The main Nordic skiing lounge in Lake Elmo Park Reserve is where the skiers meet before the race. Boys varsity head coach Torry Kraftson says, "Most of our "home" races are held at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and they have a really nice setup there with a lounge area and smooth courses."

  • Boys Nordic skiers get ready to take off on the course with less than ten seconds until the start. Senior captain Nolan Noer explains, “There’s so much adrenaline running through your body when there’s less than ten seconds and the person counts down. You must be extremely mentally and physically prepared in order to stay under control and get the best start possible.”

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The Nordic Skiing season is underway and due to their recent success in last year’s season,  high expectations have already been set for the girls and boys teams. With top finishes in the state tournament last year, it will be interesting to see what their mindset is entering the new season.

The boys Nordic Skiing team finished second as a team last year at the state tournament which was held at Giants Ridge. In addition, the girls Nordic team finished third as a team last year at State. With these excellent results, both teams have been ranked in the top five for the Nordic preseason rankings as the first races are about to begin. The boys team is preseason ranked as second in the state and the girls are ranked fourth in the state. The Ponies are certain that their skill will be present on the hills, but they will need to execute to perfection to reach their goal of winning state for both the boys and girls teams.

Practicing and training is crucial for any athletic team’s success, especially for Nordic Skiing. When there is no snow to train with, the skiers roller ski on the road in order to stay in shape for the season. In addition, the practices are rigorous, as the skiers are constantly in motion for about an hour and a half, which is very tough on skis. Not only do the skiers practice every day after school, but they usually have a heavy workout on the weekends during the preseason, so they are ready to go when races come.

The practices are really challenging with distance, strength, or other workouts, but they are also really fun because I’m good friends with the other skiers and that makes them something to look forward to every day.”

— Nolan Noer

Senior captain Nolan Noer commented on how tiring the practices are but how important they are for team building, “The practices are really challenging with distance, strength, or other workouts, but they are also really fun because I’m good friends with the other skiers and that makes them something to look forward to every day.”

Weather conditions for Nordic Skiing have great impacts on the team and especially during races. Minnesota did not have much snow at all until a couple of weeks ago, so the Nordic team was doing a lot of strength training and roller skiing to stay in shape physically and mentally for the season. However, with more snow, the team is able to finally get on the courses and ski, which obviously helps them get ready for their first races.

Also, weather can have an impact on race days, as there could be slushy snow at one course, or smooth snow at another, which affects race times and results. Being able to adapt to the weather conditions is an important part of being a Nordic skier.

Sophomore Anna Flor said, “Slushy snow and icy snow are the two biggest obstacles we racers face with weather conditions. It’s always important to know what the conditions are before the race, so that there are no surprises while racing, and you’re able to race differently with the different weather conditions.”

Expectations for both of these teams have been set extremely high, as they are atop to the state preseason rankings. Both of the teams have had players graduate since last season, but there are players who will have to step up in order to live up to those expectations. Most importantly, the team wants to be able to develop as a team, rather than attain individual awards and goals.

Carl Bohacek and Ben Wicklund

Boys varsity head coach Torry Kraftson said, “I try not to define the season with just a single goal, but I certainly have high expectations for this team. One of my biggest expectations is to see the team develop into their own character and develop as individuals; not just achieving athletic goals. However, we do have athletic goals and we were second in state last year, and we’d like to improve upon that.”

The teams have been practicing their hardest and cannot wait for the season to start as snow keeps falling.

Senior captain Noer explained how far the team the team can go, “I’d like to continue Stillwater’s dominant history as one of the top contenders for the state title in Nordic skiing. In addition, I’d like to be a good role model for our school and for our younger skiers on the team.”

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