Two Seawolf skiers headed to Beijing Olympics

Jan. 20, 2022

The University of Alaska Anchorage will have one current Seawolf, JC Schoonmaker, and one former Seawolf, Hailey Swirbul, representing the United States of America at the Beijing Olympics in February.

The pair were named to the US Nordic Ski Team announced Tuesday.

"It's a crazy feeling being named to the team," said Schoonmaker. "It really feels like a dream come true, and I'm so pumped to get over there and race. At the same time, it's pretty stressful trying to dodge COVID and making sure that I'll actually be able to go when the time comes. It'll be worth it though and from here on out I'm just focusing on racing the best I can."

Schoonmaker will be making his Olympic debut in Beijing. The native of Tahoe City, Calif., has made 17 appearances on the World Cup, with a career-best finish of seventh in the classic sprint in Ruka, Finland in November. He collected three podium finishes at the LL Bean US Cross Country Skiing National Championships early this month. Schoonmaker won a gold medal in the freestyle sprint, and a pair of bronze medals in the classic sprint and the 15-kilometer classic race. He has represented the United States at the FIS World Championships and the FIS World Junior Championships. Schoonmaker has twice represented UAA at the NCAA Championships earning All-American honors in the 10-kilometer freestyle in 2020. He is studying natural sciences with a concentration in pre-health professions.

"We are thrilled that JC made the Olympic team," said associate head coach Trond Flagstad. "A lot of skiers have the Olympics as the ultimate goal and to make it as a 22-year old is pretty amazing. Making the Olympics in 2026 would have seemed more natural in terms of his age and years of training, but based on his results last year he made it a goal this spring when he planned out his summer and fall training. One of the things we talked about was to not try to do anything different or spectacular just because it is an Olympic year. The plan and the goals for the summer and fall was just to continue to build on what he has been doing the last few years. That typically means 10% increase in training, more focus on quality workouts and some specific sprint and speed workouts. Watching videos from last year's World Cup races to learn technique and tactics from the best and also to see himself and learn from the mistakes he made and try to improve both tactically and physically."

Hailey Swirlbul competed for the Seawolves for two seasons (2016-18) earning two All-American honors, including a runner-up finish in the 15-kilometer freestyle in 2018. A native of El Jebel, Colo., she has over 40 World Cup starts with a career-best finish of third in the 10-kilometer freestyle in Davos, Switzerland in 2020. She is a three-time US National Champion and was a CoSIDA Academic All-American. This will be her Olympic debut.

Athletes were selected based upon World Cup results, World Cup rankings, SuperTour results, and the recently completed U.S. Cross Country Championships.

Beijing Olympics Nordic Ski Schedule (all times Alaska)
Feb 4 – 10:45 pm – Women's Skiathlon
Feb. 5 – 10 pm – Men's Skiathlon
Feb. 7 – 11 pm – Sprint Freestyle Qualifying
Feb. 8 – 1:30 am – Sprint Freestyle Finals
Feb. 9 – 10 pm – Women's 10-kilometer Classic
Feb. 10 – 10 pm – Men's 15-kilometer Classic
Feb. 11 – 10:30 pm – Women's 4x5K Relay
Feb. 12 – 10 pm – Men's 4x10K Relay
Feb. 16 – 12 am – Team Classic Sprints
Feb. 18 – 9 pm – Men's 50K Freestyle
Feb. 18 – 9:30 pm – Women's 30K Freestyle