Stevens: Five Lobo Skiers Off To World Games
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/05/2013

New Mexico Lobos Ski Team – at World University Games

 Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

At the World University Games in Trentino, Italy, the colors of the New Mexico Lobos will be well represented – symbolically.

That’s because the five Lobos off Fredrik Landstedt UNM ski team heading to the Trentino Games will be wearing their country’s colors for this Dec. 11-21 meet.

The Lobos competing are Joonas Rasanen for Finland, Juho-Pekka Penttinen for Finland,  Armin Triendl for Austria, Aku Nikander  for Finland and Andrea Lee for Canada.  The Lobos also had a Michael Bansmer from Oregon qualify for the U.S. team, but he gave up his spot for financial reasons.

The countries involved don’t always pick up the whole tab for representing your country at this event.

Rasanen, Penttinen and Triendl are expected to excel for New Mexico in Alpine events this season while Nikander and Lee are Nordic skiers (cross country).  Rasanen was a 2013 NCAA National Champion in the men’s slalom.

The meet is a big deal.  The torch for the 2013 “Trentino Universidad” was lit by Pope Francis beneath the archway of the Vatican bells.   The torch will make its way across Europe before reaching its final destination in Trentino where the flame from the relay torch will light the main flame to open the 2013 Universiade Games.

The Trentino Games will attract close to 3,000 male and female athletes from around 60 countries.  This meet is a showcase event in Europe and will be available on more than 100 TV stations. The Games also feature figure skating, curling, hockey, snowboard, biathlon, free style skiing and ski jumping.  This is winter stuff.

“It’s a big event,” said Landstedt.  “It’s kind of like a mini-Olympics.  They have opening ceremonies and the teams march in together and there are closing ceremonies.  The organizers put on a good show.”

So, how does Landstedt feel about his Lobos leaving school a bit early to jet over to Europe for this intense competition on Italian snow?

“Usually this event takes place in the end of January or early in February which is during our season,” said Landstedt. “This time of the year is very good for us.  There aren’t many competitions in the U.S. right now, so as long as they can arrange to do their finals early before they leave, this is a very good thing.

“They are getting high-quality competition and good training in a period where we don’t do that much.  Most of these kids were going home for Christmas anyway, now they get to go home early and are in some great competition. ”

 The Games are designed for amateur student-athletes.  However, different countries have different qualification for student-athlete status.

“You are technically supposed to be a full-time student or have graduated the previous year,” said Landstedt. “For a lot of the Eastern European counties, it’s borderline whether they are full-time students or not.  They have their own rules.

“Most of the athletes from Europe are full-time athletes who are taking classes on the side.  But that make the quality of the competition very high.  This event is right below national teams. It’s an exciting event for the athletes.”

The five Lobos might be heading off to quality training and quality competition, but they will leave Landstedt shorthanded for the NorAm Vail Series (Alpine) set for Dec. 16-20 in Vail, Colo.  The Lobos post-Christmas schedule begins Jan. 4 at the U.S Nationals/Utah Invite in Midway, Utah.

The Lobos’ Jade Enterprise/Lobo Invitational is set for Feb. 7-8 at Red River, N.M.  The NCAA West Regionals will be held Feb. 21-22 in Colorado and the NCAA Championships will be held March 5-8 in Park City and Midway, Utah.