The University of Maine at Presque Isle announced today that it has hired a nationally recognized ski coach - whose athletes have garnered World Championship and Junior Olympics National titles and spots on prestigious national and international ski teams - to lead the development of its Nordic Ski Team as it prepares for Division I NCAA status for the 2009-2010 athletic season.Alexei Sotskov, who helped to develop the Gunstock Nordic Association in Gilford, New Hampshire, and Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vermont, into national powerhouses for the U.S. Nordic Ski Team, will take over the University's program, which has won seven National Championships in its first four years in the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA). Sotskov will begin work this summer to recruit athletes to UMPI's Nordic program.
Sotskov's former athletes include U.S. Ski Team member Kris Freeman (4th at the 2009 World Championships and a contender for a medal at the Vancouver Olympics), Carl Van Loan and Jed Hinkley (U.S. Nordic Combined Team and former World Nordic Combined Junior Champions), and Kate Newick, a standout for Middlebury Ski Team. Sotskov has also had 14 athletes win Junior Olympic National titles.
"Presque Isle offers one of the top Nordic venues in the world, one of the longest snow seasons in the country and a community that embraces the benefits of the Nordic skiing lifestyle," President Don Zillman said. "We thank coaches Kris Cheney Seymour and Petr Jakl for advancing our fledgling program at UMPI. They set the stage for Coach Sotskov to bring the program to competitive excellence at the highest level of NCAA competition."
Sotskov was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, and has spent his entire career coaching and mentoring Nordic skiers. He has a wealth of international coaching experience, having served as a ski and athletic coach for the Russian National Nordic Combined Team, and as the head Nordic Combined coach at the School of Superior Athletic Performance in Russia. During the summer of 2008, he coached the New Zealand National Nordic team, and one of the athletes qualified for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Sotskov moved to the United States in 1992 to coach for the Gunstock Nordic Association. Three of the racers he trained there competed in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2002, he joined Vermont Academy as Nordic Coach and Director of Sports on Snow. While there, his athletes won four out of six NEPSAC (New England Preparatory School Athletic Council) titles and five Lakes Region championships. Most recently, Sotskov served as the Assistant Athletic Director and On-Snow Sports Coordinator at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire.
Sotskov has a bachelor's degree in physical education/athletics from the State Institute of Physical Culture and Sport named after P.F. Lesgaft in Russia. He and his wife Victoria Vinidiktova will be relocating to northern Maine. They have a son, Pavel, who is a member of the Dartmouth College varsity Nordic team. Their son will be graduating this summer and will be joining the Maine Winter Sports Center program as a Nordic skier.
With the University's Ski Team competing in the NCAA Division I next season, Maine will have more college ski teams than any other state in the country. Other NCAA ski programs in Maine include those at Bowdoin, Bates and Colby colleges.