Pulles earns All-American honors, Kramer places 12th at NCAA Ski Championships

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 5:01 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A season of uncertainty for the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Nordic Ski program culminates this weekend with the 2021 NCAA Skiing Championships in Jackson, New Hampshire. Two days of competition began Thursday with men’s and women’s classic technique races, before the extended freestyle races Saturday.

Estonian sophomore Mariel Pulles, who is familiar with the podium, placed 7th in the women’s 5-kilometer classic, earning Second Team All-American honors with a time of 16 minutes and 31.8 seconds. The top five finishers earn First Team All-American honors, while the 6-10 finishers are tabbed Second Team.

“Overall, I gave what I had and now I’m just waiting for the next race,” Pulles said in a UAF press release, earning 25 team points for the Nanooks.

In her first action on the big stage, Fairbanks freshman Kendall Kramer placed 12th with a time of 17:08.3 at the NCAA Championships, picking up 19 team points for UAF.

“I felt really good and could finally have some fun with a course with oxygen,” the West Valley High School graduate said. “I felt on fire getting to run up hills and not be slipping at all. I got to feel fit again.”

Rounding out the Nanook women was junior Catherine Reed-Metayer, of St. Ferreol les Neiges, Quebec, placing 33rd with a time of 19:41.1 in the 5k race.

“I won all my splits, so that’s a win!” she said, according to the press release. “I had a blast pushing through the tough conditions and heat, thanks to the wax techs for some great skis!”

Representing the men, sophomore duo Christopher Kalev (Tallinn, Estonia) and Mike Ophoff (Cista u Horek, Czech Republic). Kalev was the top men’s finisher in the 10k classic at 27:33.2, good for 14th place at the NCAA Championships.

“It’s never easy to adapt to that kind of heat during a ski race, so I took a moment on one downhill to cool down in the snow,” Kalev said. “Overall fitness seemed good, skis were superb, and I was able to get the heart rate close to maximum so I was pretty pleased.”

Not far behind was Ophoff, finishing the course in 27:57.3 for 17th place and 14 team points.

“My body felt okay-ish but the course didn’t fit me much so skis had to carry me through,” he said in the press release.

In total, the Nanooks tallied 75 team points and had four top-20 finishers. On Saturday, the quintet of skiers will hit the Jackson Nordic Center trails once again. The men will compete in the 20k freestyle, while the women will take on a 15k course. Recaps and standings can be found on the NCAA skiing website.

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