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Warriors Athlete of Week: Storbakken races to 3 Nordic skiing victories in 5 meets

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Brainerd's Evan Storbakken skis to a runner-up finish Saturday, Dec. 29, in the Warrior Invite at Northland Arboretum. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Video2 / 2

When he's on skis, Evan Storbakken can be like a NASCAR driver.

In the second race this season, the Detroit Lakes Invite Dec. 11 at Maplelag, Storbakken was neck and neck with a Bemidji skier who caught him on the last lap on the last uphill. But Storbakken prevailed for one of his three wins.

"We just had a downhill then had a little turn to the finish," he said. "I caught him in a draft and stayed right behind him. It was, like someone else put it, 'I went like NASCAR style' around him at the finish line and I passed him."

Warriors co-head coach Mary Claire Ryan said Storbakken made a "gutsy move."

"It could have cost him the race," she said, "but he made the move, executed it cleanly and pulled out the win."

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Evan Storbakken

  • Sport: Nordic skiing
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: 18
  • Height: 5-8
  • Career highlight: Skiing in state Nordic meet the last three years
  • Other sports: Cross country running, track and field
  • Grade-point average: 3.7
  • Favorite class: Economics
  • Favorite food: Blueberry pie
  • Favorite movie: "The Kissing Booth"
  • Favorite TV show: "Criminal Minds"
  • Favorite website: skinnyski.com
  • Favorite restaurant: Perkin's
  • Future plans: Will ski at College of St. Scholastica, hopes to become occupational therapist or physical therapist
  • Favorite skier: Norwegian cross-country skier Petter Northug
  • Parents: Eric and Trudi Storbakken

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In an abbreviated season in December, due to lack of snow, Storbakken won two more races helping the Brainerd Warrior boys team to two victories and a runner-up finish.

His other wins were at the Mora Sprint Invite Dec. 21 and the next day at the Mora Pursuit Invite.

At the sprint invite, skiers had to qualify in preliminary races to reach the finals where Storbakken nosed out teammate Maxim Osborne by 2/10ths of a second.

"I got stuck actually in the last final," Storbakken said. "Then Maxim and I ended up dueling it out for first and second."

At the pursuit invite, classic was skied in the morning and skate in the afternoon.

"I was fourth after the classic," Storbakken said. "I made up 21 seconds to catch the lead guy in the skate."

His season has included runner-up finishes Dec. 6 at St. Cloud and in the Brainerd Invite Dec. 29 which was the first this season with abundant snow—about 13 inches.

Storbakken comes from a skiing family and has done considerable offseason work like roller skiing and attending camps. Those activities helped him become a skilled classical skier.

"He's always been a good classical skier. He's only gotten better," Ryan said. "It takes a lot more ability and discipline to be a good classic skier. He certainly has crossed over that line and turned into a very good one."

Three meets Brainerd was scheduled to attend—Dec. 13, 15 and 20—were cancelled due to lack of snow.

"It's always difficult," Storbakken said when there's not enough snow, "but we've been out at Ski Gull a lot. I think everyone's had a great mindset about it. Staying positive is the key."

Warriors co-head coach Chris Hanson said Storbakken's other sports, cross country running and track and field, enhance his freestyle technique.

"His cross country running endurance, and his summer work, is paying off with among the best technique on the whole team," Hanson said. "We use him as an example for the other kids to watch. It's something that he makes look easy, but it's really not when you're getting to the fine-tuning of things.

"He's got not only the basic technique down but he knows how to transition well and that's key from one part of the course to another. It's those transitions that help him go just a little bit faster and separate him from the rest of the field. That comes from a lot of time on skis and a lot of experience."

In the last three Section 8 meets, Storbakken has finished sixth, seventh and 12th. He went on to finish 52nd at state last year, 68th as a sophomore and 96th as a freshman.

"The goal, for sure, is top 25 (at state). I want to make all-state," Storbakken said, "then sneak into the top 10. That would be fun, but we'll see."

Other notable efforts:

• Izzy Olson, gymnastics, won two events and the all-around title vs. St. Cloud Tech and vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Cheyenne Abear, girls hockey, scored two goals in victories vs. Class 2A's seventh-ranked Maple Grove and 1A's second-ranked Breck as Brainerd won the Walser Invitational at Edina.

• Gabbie Smith, girls hockey, scored a hat trick vs Bemidji.

• Olivia King, girls hockey, stopped 20 shots in a shutout vs. Maple Grove.

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