Wayzata High School sophomore Alayna Sonnesyn, 15, is competing at the J2 level of Nordic skiing and is a high school athlete on the rise. Last year the lifelong Plymouth resident placed second in the Minnesota State High School Nordic Ski championship in February at Giant’s Ridge—and with appearances in the USSA Cross Country Junior National level, is already on her way to another successful year.
PM: How long have you been skiing?
AS: I’ve been skiing since I was just a little kid, around the age of 3 years old.
PM: What would you say are your most impressive successes to date?
AS: The second place I took in the Minnesota High School state race in 2011, and I got seventh place in March 2011 at the Junior Olympics, which took place in Minneapolis this past year.
PM: Do you have any upcoming events you’re prepping for?
AS: I’m getting started with the high school season, which will include conference races every week, along with Junior Olympic qualifiers on weekends. Hopefully this will lead me to the state high school race and the Junior Olympics, which will be held in Soldier’s Hollow, Utah, this year. Down the road there’s the Kortelopet, which is an amazing event that takes place in March in Hayward, Wis., and is a part of the American Birkebeiner event.
PM: What are your goals?
AS: My goal is to keep improving and loving/enjoying the sport—and to not get injured!
PM: What are you looking forward to this season?
AS: The fun I have with my teammates, coaches and other skiers that I meet on my high school team and through the Junior Olympics.
PM: How often do you practice/condition in the summer? In the winter? Where?
AS: Summer: I ski Monday through Friday morning with the Sisu Ski Team at French Park and Elm Creek. Then I go to cross country running practice at Wayzata High School. For the past several years I have also played on the Wayzata Soccer Club, which starts practicing in the winter and competing in April. Because of the time commitment and having to prioritize my activities outside of school, my parents have advised me that it is time to set soccer aside. I’ll miss it. During the week I love to cross-train with my family throughout the Twin Cities and at our Cabin in Hayward. This includes hiking, biking and swimming. This summer we rode our bikes from Madison to Hayward, about 300 miles. It was a blast.
In winter, I have practice with my high school team every day. The Wayzata Nordic team is fortunate to have great trails behind our school instead of having to bus to a different location. Most other schools don’t have this advantage. On weekends I compete in Junior Olympic qualifying races (JOQs) throughout the Midwest. Once a year my family takes a trip to West Yellowstone over Thanksgiving week for a big ski festival that attracts skiers from all over the world.
PM: What’s your favorite thing about the sport? Your least favorite?
My favorite is the fact that you’re competing with someone throughout the entire race and you want to beat them so badly and vice versa, yet no matter what the results are, you’re always able to go up to them, give them a hug and smile and say “great race” and truly mean it.
The only thing I dislike about the sport is getting the wax wrong. Wax can be a huge factor in a race and figuring out just the right type of wax to use that will be fast for the current conditions can make a skier crazy. Wax can make or break your race.
PM: Any other hobbies/pastimes outside of skiing?
AS: I love to run, bike, play soccer and always stay active. I also play the piano and enjoy reading a good book. I love the places, experiences and people I meet when traveling as part of my training and racing for Nordic.