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U. of Alaska Alpine Ski Team Spared After $628K Raised

Paul Steinbach

The University of Alaska Board of Regents on Friday voted to reinstate the school's alpine ski team, which regents had previously eliminated along with hockey and gymnastics due to budget cuts.

As reported by the Anchorage Daily News, skiing survived by meeting terms set by regents when they voted to kill the three sports at a Sept. 10 meeting. Reinstatement was possible, the regents said, for any team capable of raising two years’ of operating expenses by their February board meeting. Though the hockey team ($3 million) and gymnastic team ($880,000) remain far from their goals with one month to go, the ski team reached its target — $628,000 — by Christmas.

In a four-word text message sent Friday afternoon, ski coach Sparky Anderson delivered news nearly five months and $628,000 in the making: “It’s official! We’re back!”

Alaska's ski, hockey and gymnastics teams have been targeted for elimination since Aug. 19, when athletic director Greg Myford and former chancellor Cathy Sandeen proposed cutting them in order to save $2.5 million a year from the athletic budget, which was $9.3 million in 2019-20, according to the university.

The entire ski team — alpine and nordic — was originally targeted, but at a Sept. 10 regents meeting, the nordic team, which costs about $262,000 a year, was spared.

Anderson led the charge to save the alpine team, which over the years has produced three NCAA national champions, 43 NCAA All-Americans and four Olympians — one apiece for the countries of Canada, Hungary, Chile and Latvia. He said his fight to save the Seawolves began Aug. 19, the day he first learned the team’s future was in jeopardy.

“It’s amazing,” Anderson told the Daily News. “I’m speechless right now. It’s been so much pressure and work and worry and everything, and just knowing that this is now in the rearview mirror, it’s nice to be able to think about moving forward.”

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