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For successful athletes, academics and sports merge
By Dave Geringer and Jamie Schanback

Johanna Turunen • Cross Country Skiing

[PHOTO: Johanna Turunen][PHOTO: Johanna Turunen racing at the Inaugural Alaskan Nordic Cup competition]UAF has one of the best cross country ski teams in the region, and it's not hard to see why. Head Coach Scott Jerome came from a very successful program at Northern Michigan, and Fairbanks is an outstanding area for training.

Junior Johanna Turunen came to UAF from Joensuu, Finland. She's well on her way to earning a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing. She studies hard and trains twice a day.

"In the winter, we usually ski for an hour and a half or two hours every day on the campus trails, or on Birch Hill," said Turunen. "We also work out on our own doing strength training in the Student Recreation Center."

[PHOTO: Johanna Turunen]Skiing came naturally to Turunen. "I started racing when I was 12," said Turunen. "You should start when you are young, because it takes years to get to a high level. At home, you learn to walk, then you run, then you learn to ski. Everyone goes skiing for fun."

Attending school in Fairbanks was appealing. "Fairbanks is good for training," Turunen said. "You can just open your door and ski, so it reminds me of Finland. The area I live in at home is close to nature, so you can go skiing right from your back yard."

Foreign language study was a requirement in Finland, but Turunen said it's different when you have to use what you've learned. "In Finland, you start to study English in the third grade," said Turunen. "We have to study at least two foreign languages--Swedish and English. But it's one thing when you study it in school, and another thing when you come here and hear English all the time and have to understand the words you have been studying."

UAF sparked Turunen's interest in academics. "I'm majoring in marketing, because I think it's interesting to learn how people decide to buy things," said Turunen. "People buy a lot of things, but they don't think about how they decide to buy them."

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All UAF photos by Todd Paris unless otherwise noted.