Kendall Kramer

The final day of the World University Games was like a storybook ending for UAF teammates Mariel Pulles and Kendall Kramer.

The two Nanooks were eager to finish strong, as both skiers had at least four races under their belt, including preliminary rounds.

Kramer, a Fairbanks native, had valid showings after placing 11th in the 5K individual pursuit and 12th in the 5K individual classic while skiing a leg on the 10th-place 3x5K relay and the 12th-place mixed team sprint.

But the Nanook was hungry for more.

The West Valley grad led her fifth and final event — the 15K freestyle — for most of the way before Pulles (Estonia) closed the 10-second gap within the last kilometer.

The two gritted it out in the final stretch until Pulles extended her ski to win by a boot length, claiming victory by 0.4 seconds over Kramer.

The pair were 11.7 seconds ahead of third-place Xeniya Shalygina of Kazakhstan.

“It was really, really cool,” said Kramer in a press release. “I think that I felt really good going into the second lap and I was just going faster on the hills — I had a good time out there.”

Pulles, who was initially dubbed the ‘dark horse’ became a UAF and Estonian hero.

The 2021 Olympian had a modest start to the games, taking 14th as a part of the mixed team sprint. She moved through the rounds in the sprint freestyle, skyrocketing her to Estonia’s first-ever winter gold medal at the World University Games.

“I felt amazing,” said Pulles after the race. “I had dreamed about it before my season started, and now I just managed to do it.”

Pulles continued the momentum, collecting a pair of silver medals in the 5K individual pursuit and 5K individual classic.

Standing atop the podium one final time with Kramer, the pair cemented themselves into history as World University medalists.

UAA, the in-state rival, also collected a few medals to take home to the forty-ninth state.

Astrid Stav celebrated a second-place showing in the 3x5K relay with her Norwegian teammates, narrowly placing behind the winners from Finland. Stav also placed 12th and 13th in the 5km pursuit and individual classic.

On the slopes, Norway’s Carmen Nielssen took silver in the women’s Super-G, after cruising to a speedy first run and closing well on the second run to finish 0.47 seconds behind the winner. Teammate Ainsley Proffitt of Missouri finished 21st.

Both Nielssen and Proffitt finished in the top 10 for the Alpine combined events, placing sixth and seventh overall.

Canada’s Caeden Carruthers led the UAA men in the Super-G, tying for 10th, while Austria’s Jan Ronner was the top Seawolf in the giant slalom (14th), Alpine combined (16th), and slalom (27th).

Hunter Eid

Anchorage’s Hunter Eid’s highest finish came in the giant slalom and alpine combined, placing 29th in each. The South High grad finished 35th in the Super-G and 36th in the slalom.

The 4×7.5K men’s relay included APU’s Garrett Butts and Anchorage’s Alexander Maurer.

Butts led off, followed by Vermont’s Finn Sweet and Gregory Burt, where the early position jockeyed between second and eighth. Maurer, who attends Colorado University, maintained the position, helping the relay finish fifth in the 13-team field.

“I think the coolest part about the relay is that this way my first race to represent the Stars and Stripes,” said Butts. “Doing that in a relay was really fun.”

Alexander Maurer

Butts added a sixth place in the 30K freestyle, finishing just 17 seconds behind winner John Steel Hagenbuch of Dartmouth College.

Maurer, a Service High grad, finished 22nd in the 30K freestyle, 27th in the 10km freestyle and 36th in the 10K classic.

Minnesota Mankato’s Anne O’Hara, a West Valley Grad, represented the Alaska contingent in curling, winning eight out of nine matches with her U.S. National Team teammates in the round-robin tournament. In the semifinals, the team was narrowly beaten by China, before winning over Great Britain in the bronze medal game.

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