MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University men’s and women’s Nordic Ski teams were in action this weekend at the 2011 Mayor's Challenge SuperTour in Minneapolis, Minn. The event took place on Saturday and Sunday at Theodore Wirth Park, were all 11 Central Collegiate Ski Associations (CCSA) teams competed. NMU opened up a lot of eyes around the conference after taking the team title for the weekend. The Women finished second behind Alaska by just three points (70-67) while the Men won their division comfortably (76-68) with Alaska finishing second.
The men dominated the field of competition in the 10k freestyle race on Saturday winning by 10 points. Alaska was second having 67 points. NMU placed three top 15 finishers lead by junior Andy Liebner and senior Martin Banerud. Liebner took 12th overall, with a 24:52.4, edging teammate Banerud (13th overall) by just 3.2 seconds. Freshmen Erik Soderman rounded out the top fifteen with a time of 25:20.0
NMU’s women’s team finished second overall with 66 team points in the 5k freestyle, just two shy of Alaska, but had some very impressive individual results. The ‘Cats placed two skiers in the top 10 lead by a seventh and eighth place finish by seniors Ingrid Fjeldheim (14:42.2) and Christina Turman (14:56.6). Junior Marie Helen Soderman crossed the finish line in eleventh place with a time of 15:16.9. The Fourth place finish is best finish of the CCSA season for Fjeldheim.
Sunday saw NMU bring out all the ammunition as both squads took it up a notch from Saturday in the classic races. Truman finished in fourth place overall in the 10k classic for the women with a time of 31:42.9. Sophomores Elizabeth Ellis (10th overall, 32:23.9) and Monica Markvardsen (11th overall, 32:26.8) along with Fjeldheim (12th overall, 32:45.0) paced the ‘Cats in the middle of the pack. Soderman was right behind the group finishing in 14th place with a time of 32:51.1.
In the men’s 15k classic Banerud (8th overall, 39:43.9) and Liebner lead (9th overall, 39:54.0) lead all CCSA competitors on the afternoon. Soderman finished behind them in 13th with a time of 40:36.7, while sophomore Chris Bowler (19th overall, 41:05.9) and junior Kevin Cutts (20th overall, 41:30.6) round out the top 20 on the day.
Head Coach Sten Fjeldheim was pleased with his teams result on Sunday. “Our team is about where we want to be for the season,” Fjeldheim said. “There are some technical things each skier needs to work on individually, but I think by the regional, we will be ready to go.”
NMU will next prepare for the Michigan Tech SuperTour stop next weekend in Houghton on Jan. 29-30. The event will open with an 5/10K individual start classic race on Saturday, followed by a 10/15K individual start skate race on Sunday.
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