MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Nordic Skiing is set to open their 2018-19 campaign this weekend when they host the NMU Open on Saturday and Sunday at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, Michigan.
The Wildcats will be led by a returning national champion in senior Ian Torchia (Rochester, Minnesota) became the seventh NCAA title winner in program history after taking the crown in the 20-kilometer freestyle race at the 2018 championships. Torchia also earned all-America honors in the 10-kilometer classic rave to bring his career total to four. After the season, Torchia was the only collegiate skier nominated to the 2018-19 U.S. Cross Country Ski Team.
Another top returning men's skier is sophomore Kjetil Baanerud (Oslo, Norway) who received all-America accolades in the 10-kilometer classic race. He and Torchia will be joined by six other returners including juniors Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, Minnesota) and Lars Soensterud (Oslo, Norway). Ketterson, along with Torchia, competed in the U-23 World Championships in Switzerland during his sophomore campaign.
On the women's side, senior Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, Minnesota) is the lone returner from last season's NCAA Championship competitors. She finished 20th in the 5-kilometer classic race and 24th in the 15-kilometer freestyle event. Schneider also traveled to Switzerland last season to compete in the U-23 World Championships.
Two more seniors will help lead the women this season on senior Sophie McDonald (Park City, Utah) and Sarah Bezdicek (Osseo, Minnesota). Both were named All-Central Collegiate Ski Association at the end of their junior campaigns.
The weekend will get started with classic races Saturday afternoon. The women will race first at noon with the men to follow at approximately 1 p.m. On Sunday, the order will be reversed for the freestyle races as the men will race at noon followed by the women at 1 p.m.