MARQUETTE - Two Northern Michigan University Nordic skiers will represent the Wildcats and the United States as they travel to Val di Fiemme, Italy to compete in the U23 World Championships and Junior World Championships from Jan. 29 to Feb. 23.
Senior Rosie Frankowski earned a spot on the U23 team, while freshman Adam Martin was named to the junior team. Athletes qualify per age group, using a points system based on the results of their top two races at U.S. Nationals held Jan. 4-10.
"I wasn't surprised about Rosie or Adam. I was just happy for them," NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. "I know that on any given day, if they ski hard, they can be hard to beat."
Northern?Michigan University freshman Nordic skier Adam Martin takes off from the start of the15-kilometer freestyle race during the Michigan Tech Christmas Classic on?Dec. 14 at the Tech Trails in Houghton. Martin will compete in the Junior World Championships in Italy Jan. 29-Feb. 23. (Michigan?Tech photo)
Fjeldheim said he intended on cutting Frankowski from the NMU Nordic ski team after her freshman year, but she persuaded him to let her stay. They set objective goals for Frankowski, which she met and exceeded.
"She made me a believer," Fjeldheim said. "She's not the most talented skier on my team, but she's the hardest worker, the most determined, and one of the smartest.
"Talent can only take you so far."
Light snowfall the morning of the women's 20-kilometer mass start at U.S. Nationals slowed down the course and worked in favor of Frankowski's strength, which is her high level of fitness.
"That layer of snow makes it slower, so it comes down to who has the most energy at the end, as opposed to who can ski the most technically well," Frankowski said.
Frankowski placed sixth in the 20K mass start and was the top collegiate finisher in the race with a time of 1 hour, 10.2 seconds. She was also the top finisher for NMU in the classic sprints, placing 11th at 4:10.62.
"Honestly, qualifying wasn't really on my radar all that much," Frankowski said. "I never thought in my life I'd make the U23 team, so it was a total shock."
Martin was named to the U.S. Junior World Championship team after finishing 11th in the 10K mass start with a time of 26:10.7. He also tied for 15th place in the classic 15K with a time of 40:40.8 and was the top NMU finisher in both races.
"He's been impressive as a freshman," Fjeldheim said. "He skied like he'd been there, done that many times before - really relaxed, really smooth.
"You have to have a lot of confidence when you're competing at that level."
Martin said he is excited about making the team and pleased that the training paid off. He said he was especially happy with how he felt during the classic distance race, and confidence in his technique and fitness led to the favorable results.
"Obviously it's something a lot of people think about during training, but only a select few individuals get that opportunity to compete against other athletes internationally, so I'm definitely excited," Martin said.
Unlike Frankowski, Martin has competed internationally previously and expects to adjust a little quicker, but there will be pre-race nerves regardless.
His qualification continues a legacy, as 2014 marks the 22nd consecutive year the Wildcats have had an athlete on the Junior Worlds roster under Fjeldheim.
"I think that legacy is (Fjeldheim's)," Martin said. "His sending athletes to Junior Worlds represents why so many athletes choose to come to NMU. That's certainly why I did."
Fjeldheim considers his training plan to be "common sense, no nonsense." While the athletes train often - twice a day, six days a week, 52 weeks a year - the plan is designed for efficiency and precision.
"Training's got to be a lifestyle," Fjeldheim said. "It's not something I should have to motivate them to do. If anything, I should have to hold them back."
Frankowski and Martin will attend a week-long training camp in Italy prior to racing. The U23 World Championships and Junior World Championships are held in conjunction and will alternate days of competition.
"Rosie and Adam are going to go over there and race hard," Fjeldheim said. "I'm sure they'll both do a great job."