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UAA can’t afford to lose skiing

  • Author: Kikkan Randall
    | Opinion
    , Holly Brooks
    | Opinion
    , Sadie Maubet Bjornsen
    | Opinion
  • Updated: August 25
  • Published August 25

Jenna DiFolco competes in a 7.5 kilometer classic ski race Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

We are writing on behalf of all the young aspiring athletes in the Anchorage community and the state of Alaska, a place we are proud to hail from. We were deeply saddened by the news that Chancellor Cathy Sandeen has proposed to cut NCAA skiing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolf skiers have been inspiring local kids to greater heights since 1978, when it was the first sports team introduced at UAA. The team is an important institution in our community and demonstrates everything that is good about hard work, healthy lifestyles and what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. The university cannot afford to lose this program. It serves as a beacon to Anchorage’s youth and an example to thousands of middle and high school skiers — and, quite frankly, to any young student in any sport. The loss of this program will result in a drop in UAA’s enrollment, UAA’s status in the eyes of potential students from Alaska, and be seen as a failure to retain quality programs that matter to our community. The community will miss the important place the UAA skiers have created both on and off the tracks.

I (this is Sadie Maubet Bjornsen) came to Alaska because of UAA and the ski team. I was given an opportunity to compete as a Seawolf and ultimately become a World Cup skier and an Olympian. Like so many others who have come to UAA to ski on their NCAA team, I decided to stay in Alaska and make it my home. And I can’t imagine my home without my NCAA home team! I’m asking anyone with a voice, to please use it and reach out to the UA Board of Regents to reject this unfortunate decision. Public testimony can be delivered by email at ua-bor@alaska.edu.

As a founder of Fast And Female, an Olympic Gold medalist, (this is Kikkan Randall now) and now a mom, I don’t want to imagine a future in Anchorage that doesn’t include the Seawolf skiers charging around Kincaid Park or down an icy run at Alyeska. The community needs this team now more than ever. The value of the UAA Ski Team in our community far outpaces the university’s investment to retain it. Please ask the UA Board of Regents to reject this decision. We want to see our friends in green and gold for generations to come. Write the UA Board of Regents today.

When I (Holly Brooks) moved to Anchorage in 2004, I was shocked by the sheer number of nordic skiers in Alaska. I quickly knew I was here to stay! Alaska is home to the full developmental pipeline including junior programs, no-cut school programs, NCAA teams and elite squads. Athletes who participate in these programs usually stack the Olympic team and furthermore, become integral community leaders, business owners and amazing stewards of Alaska. I know we’ve fallen on hard times due to the state budget and COVID-19, but it breaks my heart to think of cutting one of the very areas where we excel.

If you agree, please join us by reaching out to the UA Board of Regents today.

Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks are Alaskans and current or former members of the U.S. Ski Team. All three have competed in nordic skiing events at multiple Olympic Games.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

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