The Central Collegiate Ski Association announced its 2011 All-CCSA teams on Tuesday, with Northern Michigan the most represented team with seven honorees, followed closely by six all-conference nods for Alaska.
Northern’s power trio of Martin Banerud, Andy Liebner, and Erik Soderman all earned All-CCSA first team nods on the men’s side. The three racers accounted for five wins in CCSA events this season, and accounted for back-to-back podium sweeps at the Michigan Tech SuperTour stop.
“I think it means a lot to our athletes to earn these honors,” NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “They’ve worked extremely hard in the season as well as the offseason to get better, and we are very proud of what they have accomplished.”
Alaska’s John Parry and Michigan Tech’s Mikko Harju also earned first-team honors: Parry, an NCAA competitor a year ago, made the most of his senior season by earning his first career victory in the Hilltop Invitational skate race while Finland’s Harju has been a model of consistency in a breakthrough first season with the Wildcats.
Three more Alaska skiers – Ray Sabo, Alex Morris, and Erik Soederstroem – landed All-CCSA second team honors: a testament to the depth of the Blue and Gold roster. Northern’s Chris Bowler and Saint Scholastica’s Waylon Manske and Jeremy Hecker also earn second team nods after impressive performances over the weekend. Bowler took third in the skate race at the CCSA Championships, while Hecker and Manske finished sixth and tenth, respectively.
On the women’s side, Alaska’s Raphaela Sieber and Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman both grabbed spots on the All-CCSA first team after setting the pace in the region throughout most of the season. Sieber finished atop the CCSA podium five times this season, while Freeman won four events herself.
“Raphaela has had a very good season,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said. “Watching her train last year, we knew she was the real deal. She’s been very consistent for us this season.”
Alaska’s Theresia Schnurr joins teammate Sieber on the first team side, as does Northern Michigan’s Christina Turman and Marie Helen Soderman: both of whom played a key role in the Wildcats’ CCSA championship and NCAA Central Regional wins.
The women’s All-CCSA second team is filled by a pair of promising young Michigan Tech skiers. The Huskies’ Malin Eriksson claimed her first collegiate win at the CCSA Championships classical race, while fellow freshman Alice Flanders, also earning a second team nod, took third at the Mayor’s Challenge skate event.
Northern Michigan’s Monica Markvardsen also earned second-team all conference honors, as did St. Olaf’s Paige Schember and St. Cloud State’s Elizabeth Simak.
The CCSA also announced that Alaska’s Scott Jerome has been named the association’s Men’s Coach of the Year, while Northern Michigan’s Sten Fjeldheim earned the Women’s Coach of the Year honor.
Jerome kept the Nanook men within the top two of every event they competed in, despite an unusual season that saw Alaska lose three skiers to European competition soon after U.S. Nationals. That challenge allowed Jerome to demonstrate the depth of his program, as no fewer than five Alaska skiers recorded their first CCSA victory in 2011.
“I’m really humbled to win this award, but the credit should really go to the team,” Jerome said. “Everyone knew we had a strong team, but I think after U.S. Nationals, when we skied really well even without our top three guys, people saw the depth of our program here.”
Fjeldheim, meanwhile, guided the NMU women to the CCSA Championship and a second-place finish at the NCAA Central Region Championships. True to form, Fjeldheim, now in his 22nd season at the helm of the Wildcats, has his women racing their best right when it matters most.
“It’s awesome to be nominated and named Coach of the Year by your peers,” Fjeldheim said. “We had a great group of girls: they trained very hard and made my job easy. It means a lot and I’m very proud of our program.”
The complete listing of this season’s All-CCSA teams are as follow:
Women’s First Team All-CCSA:
Raphaela Sieber UAF
Carolyn Freeman UWGB
Theresia Schnurr UAF
Christina Turman NMU
Marie Helen Soderman NMU
Women’s Second Team All-CCSA:
Malin Eriksson MTU
Monica Markvardsen NMU
Alice Flanders MTU
Elizabeth Simak SCSU
Paige Schember STO
Men’s First Team All-CCSA:
Andy Liebner NMU
Martin Banerud NMU
John Parry UAF
Erik Soderman NMU
Mikko Harju MTU
Men’s Second Team All-CCSA: (includes 6 due to a tie)
Ray Sabo UAF
Alex Morris UAF
Erik Soederstroem UAF
Chris Bowler NMU
Waylon Manske CSS
Jeremy Hecker CSS
CCSA Men’s Coach of the Year: Scott Jerome, UAF
CCSA Women’s Coach of the Year: Sten Fjeldheim, NMU