Welcome back to this, the latest installment in this year’s preview of six professional ski clubs in this country. Previously this fall: Sun Valley preview | SMS preview | APU new athletes. And now here’s BSF:
What is the official name of this ski team? Bridger Ski Foundation Nordic Pro Team, more briefly known as “BSF” or “Bridger”
Where is it located? Bozeman, Montana
Who’s the coach? Andy Newell (pro team coach), Marshall Opel (PG Team coach)
Who’s on the roster this season? Logan Diekmann, Reid Goble, Graham Houtsma, Noel Keeffe, Willson Moore, Simon Zink, Erin Bianco, Sarah Goble, and Hannah Rudd
What’s different now from when I did this last year? Noel Keeffe, Willson Moore, and Erin Bianco have joined the team, from the University of Utah, Middlebury College, and Team Birkie, respectively. Finn O’Connell retired. Mariah Bredal moved west to Sun Valley.
What were some results highlights of last season?
Logan Diekmann had made three World Cup starts in his career prior to this season, including a 34th and 38th in qualifying at the end of 2021/2022. His World Cup race résumé grew substantially in the 2022/2023 season, as he made World Cup starts numbers three through twelve.
As I just said, Diekmann was 34th and 38th in those first two World Cup sprint starts, not making the heats but close enough that you know you can close that gap if you just find another fraction of a second out there. Diekmann gamely headed out for another eight World Cup sprint starts last season… and finished 32nd. And 35th. And 38th. If you respect grinding, and getting out there again, and again, and yet again after just missing your goal, you have to respect this.
Finally, racing in Toblach in February, Diekmann was on the right side of that cutoff line: 27th in qualifying. He raced in the heats, ultimately finishing his day in 27th overall. You had to cheer for him.
Sarah Goble was the other BSF athlete with World Cup starts last year: she started three distance races, one sprint, and a relay in Les Rousses and Toblach in Period 3. Highlights included 34th and 40th in her best two distance races and seventh in the relay, where she skied the first skate leg. I don’t have a cite offhand for the last time a Michigander started a World Cup nordic race (both Gobles are from Petoskey), but it had been a while. Stateside, Sarah Goble stood on two SuperTour/NorAm podiums, and had a top finish of fourth at U.S. Nationals. She was also 12th and 13th at OPA Cup Finals, part of a strong showing for the American squad.
You probably know that Sarah Goble has a brother, Reid Goble, who is also from Petoskey (here is a wholesome story about them from the Petoskey News–Review in 2018). Reid Goble claimed his first career SuperTour podium last season, finishing third in Sun Valley in December. He had three additional SuperTour top-tens within the season, plus three more top-tens at U.S. Nationals on what had to be well-known trails for the Michigan Tech alumnus. He also raced at OPA Cup Finals, with a best finish in Toblach of 27th.
Graham Houtsma contributed to the healthy BSF presence at OPA Cup Finals; his best finish there was 23rd, in the skate sprint. He was top-ten in seven separate SuperTour or NorAm races last season, and had a best finish at U.S. Nationals of eighth, in a classic distance race. He also qualified in the top five in both sprints in Houghton.
Hannah Rudd was yet another BSF athlete at OPA Cup Finals, where she finished 34th and 37th in two distance races. She was eighth in the Birkie, which I always have to draw attention to when an athlete grew up in the Twin Cities. Rudd had five SuperTour top-ten results, including a pair of wins in the January SuperTour weekend in Cable (speaking of the Midwest). Rudd had a top finish at U.S. Nationals of 11th, in the 20km classic.
Simon Zink had four top-30 finishes in SuperTour/NorAm races, plus was 15th in the Birkie. His best result at U.S. Nationals was 38th.
Let’s hear from the coach:
Here’s Andy Newell:
“This year we are excited to welcome Erin Bianco, Noel Keeffe, and Willson Moore to the team. We know all of these athletes are exceptionally talented and have what it takes to make it to the World Cup level. Our team goals for the season are pretty straightforward: Get as many athletes qualified for the World Cup as possible. We’ll do this by focusing on early season SuperTour races and U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow.
“So far this year we have tried to stay local in Bozeman with the exception of an on-snow training camp in Bend in May. June and July are great training months in Bozeman so we try to keep the team together here and welcome an additional 15 college athletes to the program for 8 weeks. This year we had a super strong collegiate group and we really value these training partners. Additionally staying close to home in Bozeman during the summer allows us to work more closely with the community. The BSF nordic program has grown from 400 to over 700 nordic athletes over the past four years. A big goal of the Pro Team is to work closely with the community so Bozeman can grow as a youth development hub.
“Team culture is our secret sauce. As the coach I try to build a team that I know will work well with one another and genuinely support one another, this is so valuable in the long term training process for elite xc skiing. If we are working together well as a team the results will come so this is what I focus on.
“This fall we will travel to Park City for the annual U.S. Ski Team camp and the Schutzenski festival. We will also host a team camp on snow in Canmore for Frozen Thunder and in West Yellowstone over Thanksgiving before traveling to Alaska for the first SuperTour races. Folks can follow along by subscribing to the team Newsvlogget through our social media channels.”
[The subscribe link that Newell shared is above. You can find the team’s YouTube channel here. So long as I’m editorializing, I will share my personal opinion, as someone who spends a lot of time looking at nordic ski media and social media for his job, that BSF does a superb job with this.]
Let’s hear from some athletes:
Here’s Logan Diekmann:
“As for summer training, it’s been full of travel and some ups and downs. I was a bit hesitant to even say much in response because I feel like post-Covid, I’ve been so all over the map. At this point, I’m focused on finding some consistency and feeling good in my sessions.
“We do this sport because it’s fun. The longer I do it, the more focused I find myself on that word and what it means to me. I want to enjoy this sport like I did when I was a kid and have fun.
“Andy writes a fantastic plan and trains the team well. Each of us has gotten better since we joined the team and I have confidence in what we are doing.
“To be completely honest, my job is to enjoy things. As long as that happens, I have all the tools that I need to be racing fast come winter. Being in Bozeman, racing for my club team, and working hard with my teammates has me most of the way there already!”
And here’s Erin Bianco:
“I am excited to be joining the BSF Pro team this year and to live year round out west in Bozeman! I spent many of my summers in the BSF collegiate program training with Andy and the pro team. This opportunity gave me the chance to train with skiers at a higher level than myself which paid off in my collegiate career.
“This summer I have trained alongside my teammates Hannah Rudd and Sarah Goble. It’s been fun to learn from one another and see the improvement in all of our skiing throughout the summer. Additionally, Bozeman has endless opportunities for training variety. One of my highlights from the summer was a long weekend training camp in Big Sky where we did uphill V1 intervals as well as a team mountain bike ride. I appreciate Andy’s willingness to avoid monotony within his training.
“As the temps start to drop in Bozeman, I am excited to experience winter out west and to begin the race season. I appreciate how the BSF team balances competition with enjoyment. I admire the work ethic of my teammates and their ability to have fun at the same time. I have felt nothing but support since I arrived in Bozeman and am excited to see what BSF can do this winter.”
— Gavin Kentch