Off to the races in Germany with Nordic skier and health sciences sophomore

by Matt Jardin  |   

JC Schoonmaker
Seawolf Nordic skier and health sciences sophomore JC Schoonmaker rang in the new year and the new decade by qualifying for not one, but two races in Germany. Earlier in January, he traveled to Dresden to compete in a World Cup race, placing 30th. This March, he’ll represent the U.S. during the World Junior Championships in Oberwiesenthal. (Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

It’s a new year and a new decade, and for Seawolf Nordic skier JC Schoonmaker, that means new accomplishments.

Earlier in January, Schoonmaker traveled to Dresden, Germany to compete in a World Cup race. Not knowing what to expect, he describes aiming to place 30th, which is exactly what he did.

Now armed with a better understanding of racing abroad, Schoonmaker is setting his sights higher for when he returns to Germany this March to represent the U.S. in the World Junior Championships in Oberwiesenthal.

Schoonmaker rang in the new year by qualifying for both Germany races after finishing second in a 10-kilometer classic race in Houghton, Michigan serving as a state spring qualifier at U.S. nationals.

“One of my main goals in the beginning of the season was to qualify for a World Cup, but I didn’t think I was going to be seeing one this early, so it definitely was a shock,” said Schoonmaker. “It was the next big step. I wanted to try and race against some of the best guys in the world and to see how I stacked up and hopefully learn a lot and gain a great experience from doing that.”

JC Schoonmaker
(Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)

Not counting his international performance, Schoonmaker has already achieved a lot in his first two years at UAA. As a freshman, he was able to compete in the NCAA Championships, placing 26th in a 20-kilometer classic race — a record he plans to topple this year. 

In addition to his position on the Seawolf ski team, Schoonmaker is a health sciences major, which has the added benefit of serving as a complementary subject to his athletics.

“Especially with some of the classes I had to take early on, like anatomy and physiology, being an athlete helped me understand different parts of the classes a bit more,” said Schoonmaker. “At the same time, the classes also helped me with my training, just learning a little bit more about the body and what I could do to be healthier.”

Upon graduating, Schoonmaker plans to use his health sciences education to help future athletes by becoming a physical therapist. Similarly, Schoonmaker’s mother is also a physical therapist and the influence behind him becoming a Nordic skier. While both parents are avid skiers, his father preferred downhill while his mother favored cross country.

Originally from Tahoe City, California, Schoonmaker enrolled at UAA to race with the Seawolf ski team after an older classmate from his high school ski team who was already attending UAA spoke highly of it.

At UAA, Schoonmaker discovered his favorite aspect of Nordic skiing: the team component. 

“There’s such a great community in this sport,” said Schoonmaker. “Just throughout this entire process of going over to Germany to race, my teammates and coaches have been so helpful and I really can’t thank them enough for pushing me and training me and everything they did to help get me there.”

JC Schoonmaker
(Photo courtesy of UAA Athletics)


This story originally appeared in the UAA Green and Gold News.