“Super excited,” was John Schwinghamer’s reaction to earning a trip to the National Collegiate Nordic Skiing Championships the week of March 10 – 13 at the Jackson Nordic Ski Center in Jackson, New Hampshire. He will be one of 146 Nordic and Alpine Skiers representing 17 colleges that have skiing as a sport.
“I wanted to make it last year but missed it by one spot, so I really wanted to make it this year,” said Schwinghamer. He will be skiing the 10K individual start classic race on Thursday, March 11 and a 20K skate race on Saturday, March 13.
John’s favorite race is the 10K Classic. “I like the classic better than the skate race because it is short enough to go as hard as I can the whole time,” he said.
His goal at the NCAA Championships is to gain experience, race well and have a good time. He added, “It means a lot. I have worked hard for this and am excited for the opportunity.”
Trips to the NCAA are based on a skier’s points in their four best races of the season. The last races of the season were the Central Cross-Country Skiing Association (CCSA) Championships Feb. 27 and 28 in Houghton, Michigan. In addition to John, there were two other former Mora High School skiers in the CCSA college ski races this winter. They were Tom Woolhouse who is completing his last year skiing for University of Wisconsin Green Bay and Cooper Lennox who is in his first-year skiing for Northern Michigan University.
Mora has had several former skiers earn trips to the NCAA Championships. They include Angela Johnstone-Nistler, Chad Giese, Sara Kylander-Johnson and Sadie Peterson.
This year John has centered his training around skiing by working on technique and efficiency rather than just muscling through races. Mora High School Assistant Ski Coach Chip Gerdin invited John to work on his U.S. Forest Service fire fighting crew at the Jackson District Ranger Base of the Grand Teton National Forest in Jackson Hole Wyoming for three months this summer.
John said that he did a lot of hard work there which really helped him with his skiing. He worked on seven fires including two large ones that they were able to get under control. He also was able to roller ski, mountain bike and do strength training. He even ran up the “Snow King” which is the longest downhill ski run at the Jackson Hole ski area. He added that it was great having Chip there as a supervisor and a training partner.
In Mora, John skied from seventh to 12th grade and placed 14th at state in his senior year. He also ran cross-country several years and was on the three Mora State Champion cross-country running teams. He also ran on the Mora State Champion 4x800 meter relay team and ran in the 800-meter run at state.
After spending two years running cross-country and track at South Dakota State University, John transferred to St. Scholastica College in Duluth. He was a walk-on to the ski team because he wanted to ski. After one year, his teammates thought enough of John to elect him as their ski team co-captain this year.
He is now a senior and will graduate with a chemistry major and psychology minor next spring. He has one more year of sports eligibility at St. Scholastica, so he plans to run track this spring. He plans to ski and do chemistry research in the next school year. He hopes to then apply for medical school.