A few short years ago, when Dan Yankus convinced Alex Vanias to give nordic skiing a try (why not? Alex tries everything!), he likely didn’t imagine that in a few short years, Team OAM Now/Athletic Mentors would be making a huge mark on the nordic ski circuit here in Michigan. However, the 2014-2015 ski season was one for the record books. Not only did the team reach recruitment and participation milestones, but both the team and individual members were able to reach some pretty impressive goals resulting in a largely successful season for the Team OAM Now/Athletic Mentors Nordic Ski Team.
At the start, one of the big concerns was recruiting youth to the team. Just 4 years on, the team has dropped its average age from over 30 to under 30, predominantly by recruiting summer sport athletes to winter sports. For many, the natural athleticism and dedication to training has translated quite well. The team continues to pursue more interest by increasing the nordic “foot” print in Michigan, particularly the lower peninsula. In fact, the most popular race in the LP this year featured a clinic for kids hosted by Team OAM Now!
Perhaps one of the best ways to spread the sport, is by modeling how it’s done well and bringing attention to Michigan skiiers. Team OAM Now was able to do that with plenty of local kudos, but also on much larger scale. At this year’s Birkie, 5 Team OAM Now men placed in the top 100, as did 1 of the women.
As the skiiers will tell you, each race has as story, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of them over the past few months, but if we look at the season, what’s most interesting are some of the impressive numbers and notable achievements from the team:
1700 total kms skied by all members.
Over 50 race entries combined within a 10 week span. (That’s a lot of traveling)
4 different members of the team won a race. (Dan, Kaitlyn, Alex, Rebecca- Complete Teamwork)
Overall Michigan Cup winners – Men and Women (Dan and Kaitlyn in back-to-back years)
Top 10 Michigan – Men (3) Women (2)
Top 5 Noquemanon Marathon 50km Classic – Men(1) and Women (2) (Dan, Kaitlyn, Rebecca)
1st Overall North American Vasa 50km Freestyle – Men and Women (Alex, Kaitlyn)
Top 30 Overall American Birkiebiener – Men (Alex)
Top 31 Overall American Birkiebiener (4th wave start, passed over 2000 skiers–Women (Kaitlyn))
Kids Clinic – Brighton, MI (Jon and Dan)
Cote De Marie Kids Race (Mike,Rebecca)
So what’s lead to that success? Lots of amazing teamwork, support from incredible sponsors who see the work we’re doing and help us make those medals a reality, a lot of training and hard work, and the knowledge that we have a strong foundation and team to continue to build on.
We’re looking forward to an incredible season next year, when we continue to ski our way to podiums and hope to continue some of the Michigan Cup winning traditions. For now, it’s back to pavement, and bikes, and sunshine.