WATERVILLE & CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine – The University of New Hampshire Nordic ski team prepares for its first races of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) season this weekend (Jan. 17-18) at Quarry Road Recreation Area, while the alpine team moves into its second week of competition at Sugarloaf.
The Nordic team, led by 32nd-season head coach Cory Schwartz, will be without the services of women's junior co-captain Annika Taylor (Truckee, Calif.) for the early part of the season. Taylor, last year's team MVP, was selected to compete for the British Ski Team at the U23 World Championships in Val di Femme, Italy (Jan. 29-Feb. 3).
Elizabeth Izzo (Lake Placid, N.Y.) takes on an increased leadership role as a senior co-captain. Izzo qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2013 but did not compete due to a three-skier-per-school limit. Izzo won the 3K prologue freestyle race at St. Lawrence on Jan. 19, 2013, to post New Hampshire's first Nordic individual victory since Kate Underwood (2004, Middlebury, 10K free). She earned points in 11 of 12 races in which she competed and ranked 13th in the East.
The team receives an infusion of youth to replace '13 graduates Liz Guiney and Anya Caldwell Bean. Sophomore Emily Larson (Boulder, Colo.) will seek to build off a successful freshman campaign that included action in four carnivals and eight races. Earlier this month, Larson was joined by highly-touted freshmen Lizzie Gill (Bozeman, Mont.), Katrin Larusson (Truckee, Calif.) and Teagan Yutrzenka (Anchorage, Alaska) at the U.S. Cross Country Championships in Park City, Utah. The quartet is expected to play a pivotal role in the Wildcats' success.
Junior Per Lindgren (Pitea, Sweden) was elected a 2014 co-captain after reaching the NCAAs along with his now-graduated brother Erik last season. Lindgren notched the EISA's No. 18 ranking, tops among all Wildcats. His best classic finish was seventh in 10K at Colby, and he tallied a season-best 13th freestyle finish at Vermont (10K). Johnny Springer (Jackson, Wyo.), a senior, serves as UNH's other co-captain. Springer competed in six carnivals and earned points in three races last season. His season-best finish was 22nd place in 20K free at Colby.
Sophomore Eirik Fosnaes (Hovlik, Norway) should seamlessly step right into the UNH lineup after transferring from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. While competing for the Owls, Fosnaes finished 10th in the 10K classic at the 2013 EISA Championship en route to reaching the NCAAs, where he placed 17th in the 20K mass start free and 25th in the 10K classic.
The Colby Carnival opens Friday with the women's 5K and men's 10K classic Nordic races and the giant slalom alpine races. Saturday's Nordic schedule features the women's 15K and men's 20K skate MS races with slalom racing on the alpine agenda.
The UNH alpine team finished third in giant slalom at last weekend's UVM Carnival. Jay Ogle (Pittsfield, Mass.) finished fourth to claim top 'Cat honors on the men's side, while Laura Rozinowicz (Toronto, Ontario) paced the women's team with a seventh-place finish. The slalom race was postponed due to weather and will be made up at a later date. The Nordic portion of the UVM Carnival is set for Feb. 1-2 at Trapp Family Lodge.
For more information on the UNH skiing program, visit www.unhwildcats.com.