This is the final installment of a 12-part series profiling the schools in the Central Collegiate Ski Association. Schools from Michigan, Wisconsin and Alaska and Minnesota makeup the CCSA.
The more, the merrier for the CCSA, says St. Cloud State University coach Jeremy Frost.
With newcomers St. Scholastica from Duluth, Minn., and Northland College from Ashland, Wis., joining this season, the conference sits at a healthy 12 teams and Frost says there’s room for further expansion.
Minnesota schools like Carleton College and Macalester College used to field varsity squads but now compete on a club level. “I think if those schools wanted to join, we would definitely welcome them back in,” said Frost. “The more teams we have, the better it is for everyone.”
Other schools like the University of Minnesota, St. Mary’s in Winona and Minnesota-Duluth only field clubs.
The Minnesota College Cup races, of which there are a handful this season, aim to bring all the state’s teams together to compete, regardless of varsity or club affiliation. St. Cloud, which only sports a women’s team, will host one such event on Feb. 10.
The Huskies, as a Division II program (the only one from Minnesota) are permitted to offer scholarships, and have a half-dozen skiers on their roster this season.
“It’s a pretty young team, one junior and all the rest freshman, but it’s a pretty solid base to start from,” said Frost, coaching his sixth season. “Right now we’re really looking to gain experience in the CCSA races so that we can see what it is we need to do to improve.”
The team’s lone upperclassman is Stephanie Swenson from nearby Big Lake, who skied for Minnesota-Duluth’s club team last year. Katy Shaver from St. Cloud and Canadian Melissa Walden (Deep River, Ontario) head the freshman quintet.
Cassi Leoni (Ely, Minn.), Danielle Moe (Hayward, Wis.) and Katelyn Prow (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) round out the team.
The reason for St. Cloud’s female-only status is the program was created in the late 1990s to help the school comply with NCAA gender-equity requirements. Therefore Frost doesn’t foresee the school adding a men’s program anytime soon.
“At this point I don’t think there has been any talk of that,” said Frost. “If the opportunity presented itself we would just be all over it, but at this point it’s not in the cards. The upside is we’re able to put all our resources in the women’s side.”
Because of minimal snow, the team has done its share of rollerskiing for training this season but also commutes a couple times a week to ski on man-made snow. On Dec. 9-10, the Huskies traveled to Ironwood, Mich., for the Grandview XC Ski Challenge on real snow. And from Jan. 3-7, Swenson, Shaver and Walden will compete at the U.S. Nationals in Houghton, Mich.
“It was a great experience. At this point in the season, you just get real excited to be on snow. We haven’t had a huge opportunity to do that,” said Frost of the Ironwood meet. “Swenson and Shaver advanced in the sprints from the qualifying round. That was great to see.”