by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Jake Schroeder’s senior Nordic ski season has been a testimony to the benefits of old-fashioned focus and determination. The Elk River senior led his team to the Northwest Suburban Conference championship Wednesday, finishing second among 89 boys on 10 teams. Another highlight this year was placing 10th in the 64-team Mesabi Invitational.
“Jake put in the hours, in the summer and fall, when he decided he wanted to focus on skiing,” said coach Kirsten Anderson. “He knew what he wanted to accomplish this year, and he put everything into working for it. Now he is able to reap the rewards.”
Nice athletic ability helps. At 6-foot-2 and 164 pounds, he is loose-jointed and light on his feet, with plenty of power in a slim physique.
“He’s a strong athlete. He has a good body for skiing, with long arms and legs,” said Anderson. “But if he didn’t choose to do all that summer training, he would not be where he is right now.”
Schroeder didn’t come out for skiing until his sophomore year.
“It was a short journey. I picked it up pretty quickly,” said Schroeder, who’s an A-plus student.
He had a solid junior season, including 10th-place in the conference. But he missed out state, a goal he felt was in reach. After a minor injury in the skate race at sectionals, he did not make the cut in the classic race.
Also a distance runner, Schroeder decided after that sectional race that he wanted to focus on his winter sport.
He joined forces last summer with Nate Webster, Breck Hickman and Joey Martin in a program of roller skiing and distance and interval training at Elm Creek.
Schroeder had a setback in the fall in cross country. Slated to be the No. 2 runner, he turned an ankle in the first meet. “Then in the second meet I ran on it, and I probably shouldn’t have,” said Schroeder. “I decided, I’ve got to prepare for skiing. So I pulled out.”
Schroeder re-focused on skiing once his ankle healed and was raring to go in December. Helped by former Elk standout and current assistant coach John Kallemeyn, the runners “really zoned in on technique.”
At the huge Mesabi meet Jan. 12, he placed 10th in the skate portion, helping the Elks finish fourth among 64, a huge achievement.
We asked what he enjoys about Nordic. At conference, the kids raced in 13-degree temps and a biting wind. And skiing is hard work. Just watch them high-step up a hill sometime.
“Uphill, that’s the toughest part,” said Schroeder. “That, and the toll skiing takes on your body. And the cold weather. You’ve got to keep covered up or you’ll get sick quick. But the fun part is the competition. I get a big adrenaline rush every time.”
THE SCHROEDER SCORECARD
Personal file — Family: parents, Lisa and Jim; sister, Megan, 20 … Sports: Nordic ski, cross country, track … Other activities: National Honor Society, SERVE, TIES … Academics: 4.2267 GPA … College plans: undecided where; biology and pre-med; probably skiing
Favorite stuff — Classes: calculus, AP physics … TV: “I don’t watch much.” … Food: big burritos and Chipotle … Drink: milk, water …. Athlete: Petter Northgug …. Reading: skiing magazines … Kickback activity: doing triathlons … Would like to visit: Australia