MARQUETTE, Mich.— Each semester of the 2018-19 academic year, Northern Michigan University Athletics will highlight nine different student-athletes or stories for their significance on and off the playing surface. The features are due to be released approximately every two weeks in accordance with the corresponding athletic seasons. Each feature will touch on student-athletes and their interesting and unique journeys at Northern Michigan University.
In the third edition of the second semester, NMU Athletics highlights Mathias Aas-Rolid of the NMU Nordic Skiing team.
The NMU Nordic Skiing team faces unique challenges at their meets other Northern Michigan teams do not experience as skiers often race against Olympians. "At Nationals, we go through qualifiers and I'm sitting on the quarters and next to me is Andrew Newell, someone who has been to the Olympics," Aas-Rolid said. "We are definitely racing some big guys."
"It's part of the culture here," he says as he looks around the team room full of NCAA Championship and All-American awards. In total, the Wildcats have produced nine NCAA National Champions and 97 All-Americans. "If you are a part of this program you have to do a serious job."
When Aas-Rolid competes, he takes on another unique challenge that many others do not experience, height. "I'm pretty tall," he says, "I'm almost maxing out my pole length and they're not making longer poles than what I'm using." Standing at 6-5, his height creates more pressure on the poles, causing them to break more often, and at very unfortunate times, like at the NCAA Nationals when he broke a pole almost immediately at the start of the quarterfinal race. "It is frustrating, and in a three-minute race when you are two meters in and you break a pole and now your seven seconds back, it's no fun."
Aas-Rolid fully understands the positives and negatives to his size. "Being a bigger guy, I have to really pace myself up the bigger climbs, but then I can go much faster over the hill and through the flats.
When asked about his height as a skier, he knows he sticks out, "they all look, and look back again. Everyone always asks, 'are you playing basketball' but no." While others may say he looks goofy and out of place, Aas-Rolid doesn't let it bother him. "It's always fun to beat them after they look at me goofy." The junior is also aware of the advantages he has due to his height. "When I'm drafting behind someone, I have a good view and can see over everyone else. And I can get a faster top speed because I'm tall."
He does have one thing to add for anyone wondering what to do if you have a tall skier behind you, "If you have a tall guy behind you, you better drop him in the climbs, otherwise he is going to beat you."