Posted on March 24, 2009 by Dylan Anderson

The Vikings cross-country ski team traveled to Ontario and experienced one of the worst weeks of weather while competing at Nationals.

The Vikings cross-country ski team traveled to picturesque Duntroon, Ontario (a small village outside Collingwood) and experienced one of the worst weeks of weather while competing at Nationals. The team faired well and had many personal best performances despite the difficult conditions. On the first day, Jon Skinstad and Kieran Baird placed seventh in the team sprint event despite a bad fall by Kieran. Augustana’s second team (consisting of Andy Brisbin and Joel Gervais) finished 17th in a field of 20 teams from all over the country. In the ten km skating event, Jon Skinstad led the team with a 13th place finish in the CCUNC category. On the third day of racing, the team was faced with rain and high winds. Andy had the race of his life finishing 12th in the 15 km classic, while Kieran Baird was unable to finish due to injury. Joel Gervais finished 36th.

The last competition of the year was at Mount Shark in the Rockies high above Canmore. This was the culmination of the Alberta Cup Series which consisted of eight races held in different venues across the province. The team had good results all winter and the same held true on the weekend. Maja Zimmermann placed third in the ten km classic event for junior women. Kieran Baird placed third and Andrew Brisbin finished in fourth in the junior men’s category. Jon Skinstad placed 17th, Kyle Schrama 22nd, Kai Skinstad 21st in the senior men’s event which was won by Olympian Robin McKeever. Unfortunately due to the terrible snowstorm, day two of competitions was cancelled.

Coach Skinstad is very satisfied with the season and this young team. She is very optimistic for the future. In order to provide the best possible development opportunities for the athletes, the team is planning a training camp in Norway this summer. The student-athletes will combine a cultural experience with athletic training. Skinstad says that they hope to ski on natural snow at the Sognefjell glacier and in the “Ski Tunnel” in Torsby, Sweden. This facility provides training opportunities on artificial snow in a refrigerated tunnel designed for both cross-country skiing and biathlon (as it has a shooting range as well).

Two athletes from the Vikings cross-country ski team are heading for Quebec this week as part of Team Alberta for the biathlon Nationals. Jon and Kai Skinstad race both cross-country and biathlon and have had a very promising season so far.

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