University of Alaska Reverses Decision
Ski Teams Saved for Now
In November, the University of Alaska (UA) reversed an earlier decision to stop funding its Nordic- and alpine-ski teams at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year due to financial issues resulting from depressed oil prices. This applied to both the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).
The welcome news followed a resounding rallying cry dubbed #Savealaskaskiing supported by the ski community at large, including the National Nordic Foundation.
“Past, present and future athletes are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we received from ski-community members locally, across the United States and around the world. Over 5,000 people from 31 countries, 45 U.S. states and many communities all across Alaska signed the petition, which became a powerful force in convincing the Board of Regents to overturn the decision to eliminate college skiing from Alaska. One Regent even said that this issue received far more feedback than any other that UA has faced,” commented Andrew Kastning, UAA Nordic-ski team head coach.
“We were lucky to have so many people from the local community and the larger ski community rally in our support. People realized this was not only a bad thing for Alaska, but also for NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] skiing in general and the larger USSA [U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association] pipeline. It was really great to see so many “rivals” turn into staunch supporters for the good of the sport," commented Sara Studebaker-hall, UAA Nordic-ski team assistant coach.
“The UAA Ski Team felt the warmth and love of the ski community. For that, we offer sincere appreciation and a debt of gratitude for all those who came to bat for skiing in Alaska. We still have battles to win [in] garnering more private funding, but at least we have a pathway forward,” added Kastning.
A resounding rallying cry dubbed #Savealaskaskiing worked wonders.