All-American – Skier, NU grad a hopeful for 2006 games |

All-American – Skier, NU grad a hopeful for 2006 games

Nordic skiing has always had a place in Zach Violett’s life, whether he wanted it to or not.

Violett, a 1999 Nevada Union High School graduate, remembers at the age of three having little wooden skis with shoes drilled into them, custom made for him, so he could tag along with his parents out on the trail.

Fast forward 20 years and those countless hours of childhood training have paid off, as Violett will graduate from the University of Alaska-Anchcorage a four-time All-American nordic skier.

Last week at the 2005 NCAA Championships, Violett claimed his final collegiate All-American honor with a eighth-place finish in the 10-kilometer classical with a time of 31:46.1. The top 10 finishers earn All-American status. Violett finished less than a minute behind the race leader and was the one of three Americans to place top 10 in the race.

Two of Violett’s other All-American honors came in classical races and the remaining honor came from a freestyle race.

Violett’s skiing career took him to Norway to a ski academy after finishing high school at the age of 16. Starting school early and skipping fifth grade allowed Violett to graduate early, which also left him feeling as though he wasn’t ready to go to college right away.

So, for the next two years he took classes and skied in Norway.

“It didn’t really hit me until the second I got on the plane and then I was thinking what am I doing?” Violett said. “I knew, though, that I had to go where the best skiers were and train with them. I like the Norwegian attitude toward training.”

After his time in Norway, Violett went to the U.S. National Championships for skiing, where the coaching staff from the University of Alaska-Anchorage saw him. They offered him a scholarship on the spot and after seeing the campus a week later, Violett packed his bags for yet another adventure.

Now, four years after competing at the collegiate level, Violett is setting his sights on skiing for the United States in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He has already placed in the top 10 in an American race this year and is optimistic about getting a chance to qualify for the team.

Violett is not the only successful nordic skier in the family as his younger sister Sara, 16, recently competed in the Junior Nationals for nordic skiing and his younger brother Philip, 19, skis for Northern Michigan.

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