Nordic ski team races “Birkie”
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Notre Dame Nordic Ski team joined over 10,300 cross-country skiers Saturday in North America’s largest ski race: the American Birkebeiner, also called the “Birkie”. The race takes place in western Wisconsin, over a trail connecting the cities of Cable and Hayward. The annual event is the American version of Norway’s Birkebeinerrenet and began in 1973.
Ten skiers from Notre Dame traveled into the tundra to compete in various events over Birkie weekend. Races ranged from 12 to 54 kilometers in length, and the cumulative length of the team’s races totaled to over 250 miles. For most of the team’s skiers, the event was a first-time experience, but for sophomore Iciar Ocariz, this event is a family tradition. This year was her fourth time competing in the 27k Kortelopet race, finishing third in her age group with an impressive time of 1:59:18. Senior Kevin Bednar also performed well in the 54k classic, finishing his first ski-marathon as third in his wave with a time of 4:01:41.
After the race, sophomore Adrienne Hushcke said, “I’ve wanted to do the Birkie ever since I began skiing in high school, and now that I’ve done it, I want to come back every year because it was just such an amazing experience.” Every 5-7k, volunteers greeted the skiers with water and snacks to refuel because in races of this length, replenishment is critical — skiers can burn up to 1,000 calories per hour while racing. Because of the proximity to the Twin Cities, many of the team’s members from Minnesota were able to reunite with their families at the finish line and share the achievement with them.
Each year, the event brings together skiers from all over the world to tackle the most elite trail in the Midwest. “What’s cool about the Birkie is that it draws such a variety of skiers; competitors range from Olympic-level athletes to novices,” said Bednar. “It’s amazing that as a third-year club, we were able to bring such a great representation of the University to the event. When we first dreamed up this trip, we never imagined so many students would be interested in going and doing something so crazy.”
The skiers spent the weekend at the nearby cabin of alumni Michael Daugherty, Class of 1982. Senior Mara Stolee said, “We are so thankful for the support of the Notre Dame family. It was only through the generosity and assistance of this community that we were able to achieve such a lofty goal.”
Women’s Ultimate Frisbee
The Notre Dame Women’s Ultimate Club traveled to North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Asheville Invite, playing against teams from many different regions. Both A and B teams played in the tournament, enjoying a weekend of warm weather while seeing some new competition.
Notre Dame A started off the weekend very well, coming out with a 13-1 win over UNC – Greensboro in their first game on Saturday. In their second game of the day, the team faced a tougher George Washington University team. They were trailing 4-7 at halftime, but came out of half to score nine unanswered points, taking the game with a score of 13-7. In game 3, Notre Dame A faced tournament hosts UNC-Asheville in the showcase game, taking the lead from the outset and winning 13-3.
On day two, Notre Dame A enjoyed a first round bye and opened play with a semifinal game against Elon University. The teams traded points for a while, and Notre Dame trailed 6-8 at half. Elon gained momentum and took a 10-7 lead, but Notre Dame fought back to tie the game at 10-10. Freshman Julia Butterfield caught the game winning point from sophomore Heather Fredrickson, and Notre Dame A was officially in the finals. They faced long-time competitors Indiana University, and once again, the teams traded points and Notre Dame A found itself down at the half by a score of 8-6. But the team came back, and freshman Mary Hermann caught a hammer from Kelsey Fink to bring the game to an 11-11 tie. In the last few minutes of the game, IU took the lead, and Notre Dame suffered a heavy loss in the championship by a final score of 13-11.
The weekend was the debut for freshmen Butterfield, Hermann and Mary Kate Andersen, all of whom played well. Returning handlers Fink, fifth-year Kelly Gilmour and Fredrickson led the team with great throws and assists, while returning cutters senior captain Molly Carmona and sophomore Mara Jurkovic controlled the open space. Although the outcome of the championship game was not what the team had hoped for, Notre Dame A was extremely happy with the performance of all of their players and is very excited to travel to more tournaments and continue to prove themselves throughout the season.
Notre Dame B had a rough start, falling 13-0 to Elon in the first game on Saturday. They worked on team chemistry in the second game, falling to Milwaukee-Wisconsin by a score of 13-0. In their third game of the day, senior captain Erin Cobb scored the team’s first point of the season. On Sunday, Notre Dame B came out strong against UNC-Greensboro, putting up 8 points for their highest scoring game of the weekend, eventually falling 13-8. The team fell 13-1 to Milwaukee-Wisconsin in their last game. Cobb and fellow senior captain Katie Kraemer did a great job leading the team, and freshman Marissa Ray and sophomore Molly DeTrempe both had wonderful cuts and defensive plays all weekend. Notre Dame B was very proud of their players and looks forward to building team chemistry over the next few months.
The next stop for Notre Dame Women is the Tally Classic in Florida.
The Women’s Club Volleyball Team attended the 2014 Purdue Boilermaker Blackout Tournament at Purdue University over the weekend. They played three pool play matches, winning all three and placing the team in the Gold Bracket for the second day of play. They played some of the top-10 teams in the nation, beating out both the ninth- and 10th-ranked teams in the nation. The Irish finished in third place in the Gold Bracket, losing in a very close game to Missouri.
The Gymnastics Club competed at the Illini Invite on Saturday. In her first club gymnastics meet, graduate student Erin Bela scored a 6.95 on beam. Mary Faurot, a sophomore, received a score of 6.4, and Christa Costello, a junior, scored a 7.15.
Men’s Ice Hockey
The Irish concluded their season with two victories over visiting California Lutheran at Compton Family Ice Arena. The wins bring Notre Dame’s final record to 15-8-3 in its second season as a club.
The Irish stormed out of the gates on Friday night against the Knights, getting goals from sophomore forward Joe Salvi and senior forwards Jeremy Vercillo and Tom White. California Lutheran staged a brief comeback in the second, closing the lead to two goals at 4-2, but the Irish put the game out of reach in the third, scoring five goals in the final 12 minutes to ice it. Sophomore forward Greg Madden led the team with three goals and an assist while Salvi finished with a pair of goals and senior forward Parker Teufel, freshman forward Abdel Madina and senior defenseman Mark Coyne chipped in three points apiece. Junior goaltender Justin Dancu manned the net, making nineteen saves.
Saturday marked senior night for the Irish, as the team’s seniors and graduate students were honored before the game. Notre Dame opened up the scoring on the power play with Madina deflecting a pass from junior forward Mike Marino into the net, and graduate student forward Andy Foley doubled the lead two minutes later on a feed from senior forward Conor Kelly. The Irish extended the margin to 4-0 on goals by senior forward Victor LeVasseur and sophomore defenseman Josh Dempsey before surrendering a goal to the Knights. Teufel scored the lone goal of the third period to put the game away.
Sophomore goaltender Nick Stasack made 15 saves to earn the win before giving way to graduate student Richard Righi, who turned aside all five shots he faced in his first action of the season.