Kramer to stay in Alaska, will ski and run for UAF Nanooks

April 16, 2020

Kendall Kramer, the top Alaskan junior female Nordic skier in recent memory, has committed to ski and run at her hometown University of Alaska Fairbanks beginning in the fall of 2020.

Kramer has won 14 high school state championships in skiing and running at West Valley High School. She is also a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team, a nomination she earned after a breakout fourth place at the World Junior Nordic Ski Championships in 2019.

Kramer has also won multiple Alaska Skimeister titles and U.S. junior national championships along with the Mount Marathon junior girls race.

The Kramer family, including Kendall’s parents Susan and Mike, along with friends and West Valley coaches Greg Whisenhant and Dan Callahan, held a socially distant signing ceremony in the Kramers’ driveway on Thursday night.

“We are very excited to welcome Kendall to our Nanook Family,” UAF acting ski and cross country head coach Eliska Albrigtsen said in a press release Thursday. “Kendall understands the hard work skiing and running are about and is not ashamed to show others that that is the only way to success.”

Kramer says she’s excited to stay close to home, where the ski season is long and there is widespread community support for the activity. Given her talent, there’s no doubt any ski school in the country would have been thrilled had she chosen them.

“I’m very satisfied with my decision to go to UAF, because I feel welcomed, invited and encouraged by the team and the coaches,” Kramer said in a press release. “I feel understood and supported by everyone and really feel as though I will be happiest here. I get to make Fairbanks proud and give back to the community that has given me so much.”

Said Albrigtsen: “Why would a skier ever want to leave this place with more than five ski trails systems right in the heart of the town, especially when they are covered by amazing high quality, well maintained snow for more than six months in a year?”

Unlike many college athletes who focus on a single sport, Kramer plans to cross country run and ski for the Nanooks.

Some of the country’s most successful Nordic skiers, such as Olympic gold medalists Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins, have opted not to attend an NCAA university and focus on skiing immediately after high school. Others, however, such as Alaskans David Norris and Scott Patterson, competed at NCAA schools, earned college degrees and posted solid results on the World Cup circuit.

Kramer also looks forward to continuing her education.

“I’m planning to major in psychology … and I’m very passionate about my major so this all worked out perfectly,” said Kramer, whose father Mike excelled as a runner at Division I Washington State University in the late 1980s.

Kramer has handled the highs and lows of competition with maturity not always seen in a teenager.

“There was a lot of expectation for me to take my individual 4th place (at World Juniors) last year and make it into a podium. That was the ‘logical’ step. But I didn’t realize what it was costing me to do that,” Kramer said on Instagram this winter, referring to pressure and training demands that were taking away from her joy of skiing. “So, I got 22nd and 24th in my races this year, but I had to take a step back afterwards and realize I am representing the United States of America at the world championships, and be proud of myself for getting out of this very tough summer with a healthier mindset. The number by my name on the results sheet isn’t as low this year but I’m more proud of myself than ever, just as a person.”

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog Contributor