Some view making it to Alaska as the end of their skiing journey.
For Pemberton's Charley Field, getting invited to the final frontier is just the beginning.
The 19-year-old is getting set to kick off her first season as an Alpine skier with the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves when the year begins with Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association qualifiers in Park City, Utah on Jan. 6 and 7. Field was 24th in the giant slalom in her Jan. 6 debut.
Field's training with the team began back in September with dry-land training — work in the gym and cardio training like hill sprints — as all the Seawolves are committed to trying to land the school's first national championship as a team after a successful training camp in Colorado earlier this month.
"We all improved a lot in those eight days and I think we're all very excited for our season," Field said. "It's nice to see the team going out there and training hard, and pushing us to be able to go faster and go harder because everybody wants to have a good season."
Field explained a lack of snow has hit even Alaska, as the Seawolves' home hill — Alyeska Resort, about an hour from the university — hasn't been immune to the shortage.
Field explained she, like many of her Seawolves teammates, was doing some extra training over Christmas break, taking advantage of the time off to participate in FIS races at Panorama last month. She had a 14th place finish in the giant slalom alongside three other did-not-finish showings.
"We've had three days together of freeskiing on (Alyeska)," she said. "I'm doing Keurig Cup (races) and getting some training in to myself because I haven't had as many days as I usually do on snow. I'm just getting really excited for the season to come."
Though skiing is ultimately solely up to what the competitor can do in any given run, Field is feeling the joy of having an incredibly tight-knit team atmosphere as every Seawolf supports one another through the demanding training sessions. Field explained learning how to be a true team player is one of the biggest things she's learned in her short time up north, as she has to shrug off any individual disappointment in order to be a vocal and hopeful fan of the team.
"It's a very team (-oriented) atmosphere. Everybody wants everyone to do well, because it's all based on points for the overall NCAA title," she said. "Everyone is very helpful. Everyone will give each other advice on how their skiing is.
"In an individual sport, it's very nice to have a team that will help you and support you."
As a speed skier, Field has observed her more experienced teammates in similar disciplines, and is generally satisfied with the progress she has made thus far.
And the Whistler Mountain Ski Club vet said she had always dreamed of going to ski in North America's northwest — and the opportunity to earn a scholarship from head coach Sparky Anderson made her jump aboard the bandwagon straightaway, even with some of the challenges of living in a fairly remote spot.
"I've always wanted to go to Alaska because I really wanted to see the mountains and how pretty it was up there," she said. "It's definitely dark. It gets light at about 10:30 in the morning and (the sun) goes down at three.
"I'm living on campus with a couple of teammates and that been really great. I'm really close to the new Alaska Airlines Center (opened this fall) so it's really easy for me to go to the gym."
Field is currently pursuing classes in health science, but may change majors as she is looking into taking classes in pre-med.
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