Long a source of some of the nation's top female skiers, the Alaska Pacific University nordic program will boast two men on the U.S. Ski Team next season.
Scott Patterson, a South High graduate who won the 50-kilometer national championship this year, earned a spot on the 2017-18 squad that was announced Wednesday.
The selection of Patterson, 25, gives the APU nordic program five skiers on the national team. The other four were all members of the 2016-17 team – Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan and Erik Bjornsen.
Led by four-time Olympian Randall, APU has sent several women to the national team over the years. But in the last few years Erik Bjornsen has been the program's only man on the team.
"We have a really good group of young men and, yeah, it's really nice to have another guy on the (national) ski team," APU head coach Erik Flora said.
[Patterson skis to convincing win in Fairbanks]
Members of the national team get increased training and competitive opportunities. Patterson is already reaping the benefits of his new status, Flora said – he's currently at a U.S. Ski Team training camp in Bend, Oregon.
Patterson, a three-time state Skimeister in high school and a two-time NCAA All-America skier at the University of Vermont, earned his selection by virtue of his success last season.
He captured the U.S. SuperTour men's overall championship, he scored the first World Cup points of his career and he won his second national championship.
By winning the SuperTour title, Patterson ensured himself a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the first portion of the World Cup circuit next season.
"But this should get him more (World Cup) starts," Flora said.
The five APU athletes are among 12 skiers — seven women and four men – who will be on next season's A and B teams.
Randall and Sadie Bjornsen were named to the women's A team, Brennan was named to the women's B team and Patterson and Erik Bjornsen were named to the men's B team.
The women's team is strong and deep. The six women on the A team are all Olympians and have all claimed World Cup medals, which could explain why Chelsea Holmes of Girdwood didn't make the team despite a breakthrough season.
[Girdwood skier Holmes claims first national ski crown]
An APU skier who won the SuperTour women's championship, Holmes made a blockbuster World Championships debut by grabbing 13th place in the 30-kilometer freestyle race earlier this year in Lahti, Finland.
Although she didn't make the national team, Holmes, 30, will nonetheless be part of the U.S. Ski Team's early season World Cup team by virtue of her SuperTour championship.
"That puts her in a great place for fighting for the Olympics," Flora said.
2017-18 U.S. Ski Team
Men's A team — Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell.
Women's A team — Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell, Jessie Diggins, Kikkan Randall, Ida Sargent, Liz Stephen.
Men's B team — Erik Bjornsen, Patrick Caldwell, Scott Patterson.
Women's B team — Rosie Brennan.
Men's development team — Ian Torchia.
Women's development team — Hannah Halvorsen, Julia Kern, Katharine Ogden....Read more