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UAF Nordic Ski qualifies five for the NCAA Championships

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 4:26 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After successful stints at various meets in Salt Lake City, Utah this year, the University of Alaska Fairbanks is sending five Nordic skiers to the NCAA Ski Championships March 10. Junior Catherine Reed-Metayer (St. Ferreol les Neiges, Quebec), sophomore Mariel Pulles (Otepaa, Estonia) and freshman Kendall Kramer (Fairbanks, Alaska) will represent the women, while sophomores Christopher Kalev (Tallinn, Estonia) and Mike Ophoff (Cista u Horek, Czech Republic) will represent the men.

“The whole team has put in so much work this winter in pretty cold temps,” said acting head coach Jennie Bender. “This team has been really bonding and gelling this year which has been wonderful to see as a coach, there has definitely been a positive atmosphere.”

As great as the chemistry is off the trails, it is how they push each other on the trails that separates this team from the pack. Kalev and Ophoff have been dueling throughout the season, culminating with a fourth place finish for Ophoff at the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships 10-kilometer race last week. The next day, Kalev bested Ophoff in the 20k freestyle event, placing 8th among men’s skiers.

“They’re skiing great, they look really strong and they’re all so supportive of each other,” added Bender. “They’re motivated and it showed during the race.”

Pulles’ season was highlighted by a podium finish at the RMISA Championships, placing third in the 5k Classic with a time of 15:40.8. Kramer has a pair of top-10 finishes, while Reed-Metayer has been climbing the standings throughout the year.

“Kendall and Mariel go back and forth and I think are learning a lot from each other,” said Bender. “Mariel is super dialed and has a lot of racing experience and Kendall has so much potential and has been getting better and better and is becoming more of a mature athlete which has been really fun to see.”

Pulles was also one of 40 skiers honored on the All-RMISA team, selected to the second team.

73 men and 73 women will compete at the NCAA Ski Championships March 10-13 at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire.

Participants are selected on a regional basis from two designated regions for Alpine skiing (East and West) and three designated for Nordic skiing (Central, East and West), according to a UAF press release. The championships will be streamed live on NCAA.com.

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