New head coach Ryan Sederquist has added a local skiing icon to his staff at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, bringing two-time Olympian Russell Currier on board as an assistant ski coach. The Caribou graduate and Stockholm native, who retired from pro competition after the 2018 season, brings a wealth of junior national, national, and World Cup competitive experience to his new role. He recently moved back to the area and has settled into a non-ski related full-time job, but is excited to keep his foot in the arena through coaching. "There is too much opportunity up here to pass up," said Currier. "I really think northern Maine still has the potential to be a competitive staple in the US ski and biathlon field."
Currier developed through the Maine Winter Sports programs (now OSI), eventually taking the reigns from Walt Shepherd, winner of four national titles and three North American championships, as the face of the sport in Northern Maine. Both helped to establish a rich tradition in biathlon in the area, something that Sederquist sees as possibly benefiting UMPI Nordic as well.
"With the unique accessibility to world class biathlon facilities that UMPI affords to its student-athletes, I think it is in our best interest from a recruiting standpoint to market that aspect and foster athletes who wish to develop in that area, and adding Russell to our staff really jumpstarts that."
He also noted the parallels that Russell's career path has with the type of program he hopes for UMPI to become, one with athletes who are passionate about skiing and willing to work hard to improve, no matter where they are starting from.
"In Russell, you have an athlete who literally has walked the path from Aroostook county all the way to the top of the mountain - the Olympics. He can relate to the developing local athletes we believe should continue skiing in college just as much as he can with a current junior national champion, which is rare."
Though biathlon is not an NCAA event, Sederquist noted that all skiers have to learn to ski fast, which NCAA competition in the EISA certainly provides - and having Russell's guidance on the biathlon side of things is just an added bonus.
"He is an incredible resource - hopefully our current crop of athletes realize how lucky they are to be brushing shoulders with a guy like him. We are so excited about whatever amount of assistance he can provide."
The nordic ski teams hold their first official practice on October 1st.