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The Nanooks men’s and women’s Nordic ski teams will both head to Midway, Utah, this weekend to compete in races hosted by the University of Utah at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

“This is the Nanooks first opportunity to compete in the 2020-21 athletic schedule after not competing at all in the 2020 portion of the schedule due to COVID-19 protocol. The ‘Nooks were last on the slopes at the 2020 NCAA Skiing Championships before having the Championships canceled due to COVID,” a Tuesday statement from the team said.

The teams are scheduled to spend essentially their entire seasons competing at Soldier Hollow. They’ll head there for races again the last two weekends in February. The only other competition on their schedules right now is the NCAA Ski Championships, scheduled for March 10 in Jackson, New Hampshire. 

“Head coach Eliska Albrigtsen has named Jennie Bender the acting head coach for the 2021 campaign. Bender, who joined the ‘Nooks in 2019, will sub in for Albrigtsen, who is expecting,” the statement said. 

This weekend will mark the first time competing for the Nanooks for one athlete on each the men’s and women’s teams. Chugiak High School graduate Max Beiergrohslein and West Valley’s own Kendall Kramer are both freshman newcomers. 

“It has been a wild ride of figuring out protocol and figuring what we can do and how to do it safely, but we’re definitely excited to head down and get on a start line and get some Utah sun,” Bender said during a virtual press availability Tuesday morning. 

“I think it’ll be a great venue for us. It’s at altitude, but it’s not that high,” Bender said of competing at Soldier Hollow, adding that the team decided to forgo two possible competitions in Aspen, Colorado, where high altitude becomes a bigger factor. 

“It’s been super smooth and I know the whole team’s been vibing and really meshing well with her instruction,” redshirt sophomore Logan Mowry said of working with Bender as the acting head coach.

Contact staff writer Sam Ferrara at 459-7575.