Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 5:50 PM on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mariner sophomore chosen to compete in Junior Olympics

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News


Angelina Skowronski

Cassidy Soistman approaches the finishing line at the Besh Cup in Homer on Jan. 21. Soistman competed in six Besh Cups throughout the state to qualify for Junior Olympics in Park City, Utah, March 1-11.

On the school bus ride coming back to Homer from Anchorage with her mass choir group Feb. 7, sophomore Cassidy Soistman received a call from an unknown number.

"It was a representative from the group that organizes the Besh Cups, and she asked me if I wanted to compete in the Junior Olympics," said Soistman.

Soistman's squeals of excitement were enough of an answer for the caller, and enough of a commotion for her classmates to inquire.

"I was an alternate and I didn't know if I was going to be able to go, so I was really excited to get the phone call," said Soistman.

Though the start is only a week away, Soistman has been training for the Junior Olympics nearly her entire life. When she is not on skis, the former violinist runs track in the spring and cross country in the fall.

Nickname: Cass

Favorite food: Caesar salad from Fat Olives

Summer job: Working in the kitchen at Latitude 59

Her Pandora station right now: Jack Johnson

Likes to shop at: American Eagle

Favorite school subject: Math and history

Spends her free time: Hanging out with friends and doing homework

Grownup aspirations: Go into the medical field

Untraditional fact: "I have an extra bone in my foot."

Last summer she attended a ski camp in Eagle Glacier, run by Alaska Pacific University trainers, and this summer she will fly to Oregon with 13 other cross country teammates to participate in a high-elevation running camp.

"I've been skiing since I could walk. I remember being two years old and getting my skis out of the closet. My parents are big skiers so I just naturally grew up on them," said Soistman.

She came home with a gold medal in her first race in seventh grade and, since then, medals have continued to accumulate.

This season, Soistman competed in six Besh Cup races throughout the state to qualify for Junior Olympics and the Arctic Winter Games. Since both events are held in the same period, March 1-11, as the cream of the crop, Soistman will be competing in only the Junior Olympics in Park City, Utah.

"She has put in a lot of effort herself this season and it is fabulous to see her being rewarded," said Homer High School Cross Country Ski Coach Jan Spurkland. "This is neat for the Homer community as well because she serves as an inspiration for the rest of the ski community."

Junior Olympics is divided into three age groups, J2 (14-15 years old), J1 (16-17 years old), and OJ (18+). Soistman will be the oldest in her J2 division which she hopes will give her an advantage.

"I am super excited to have this opportunity to ski with the best in the country," said Soistman. "Even if I don't come home with any medals, the experience alone will be amazing."

She has the possibility of competing in four races in the Junior Olympic; sprint, classic, relay, and skate.

Her training so far has been with her Homer cross country ski team as they gear up for state competitions this weekend. After State, she has less than one week to prepare for Utah where the Alaska team will take four days to train and acclimate before the start of the official races.

"Training her for Junior Olympics will provide interesting challenges. Skiers usually peak at Regions and State time, so we will have to work with Cassidy to reboot her after these competitions," said Spurkland.

Soistman will return from "JO" on March 11 to resume her regular "work week."

The first thing on her agenda after the whirlwind season?

"Sleep. I'm definitely going to sleep a lot," said Soistman. "And catch up on all the make-up school work."