Pursuit to Play: Pack of young CSS skiers race to early success | www.WDIO.com

Pursuit to Play: Pack of young CSS skiers race to early success

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: February 02, 2021 11:37 PM
Created: February 02, 2021 11:05 PM

The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) nordic skiing hadn't practiced as a team since November, but after coming together to start their seasons January 16th a few new faces have already emerged as top contenders.

"It's been an awesome snow year, it's been a really good snow year," said CSS head coach Maria Stuber.

Thanks to all the powder that's fallen across the Northland this winter, local trails have been in good condition for cross country skiers.

This has made training for St. Scholastica men's and women's nordic athletes a breeze, both while individually conditioning and after their seasons began.

"The city of Duluth has ample trails so that's super beneficial that you can train all over," said CSS freshman Maj-Lis Helmer. "Also the community of nordic skiing in Duluth is just so supportive and there's people skiing everywhere."

Senior Ryan Steger added, "getting to be with the team and get out and train with people, it's definitely something I took for granted. Not being able to do that for a little while made me appreciate it all the more."

Despite this being her first season, Helmer feels at home when clicking on her skies to practice at Lester or Chester Parks, Hartley Nature Center or Spirit Mountain.

The former Duluth East cross country standout has been skiing since she could walk. She's wasted no time in making a name for herself in college, leading CSS twice this season in freestyle sprints.

"I'm really excited about it," Helmer said. "I don't want to get too ahead of myself but I'm having a couple good races [and it's] such a good place to start. I'm just excited to move up from here."

Fellow freshman Maggie Whitaker has joined Helmer in racing her way onto the leaderboards.

In the Saints' season opener at the Gitchi Gammi Games in Cable, Wisconsin she led the Saints in just her second collegiate race. She finished the 5K freestyle with at time of 14:46 in 29th overall.

Whitaker said her key to success is staying prepared for changes on the course.

"We have to be super flexible, and I think something that we practice as skiers is doing so because we never know what the weather might be or where we'll be training."

Coach Stuber said she feels lucky to have a big freshman class dedicated to sticking out the season through tough times. 

"I want to wrap up this year with every kid on our team having done something that they're proud of," Stuber said. 

CSS is back in action this weekend at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Invitational. 


Alicia Tipcke

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