NSAA’s longtime Board President and lifelong skier named Al Merrill Nordic Award winner,
recognizing exceptional commitment to Nordic skiing
Earlier this summer, U.S. Ski & Snowboard named Joey Caterinichio its 2020-2021 Al Merrill Nordic Award winner, which annually and nationally recognizes an individual or group involved with any aspect of Nordic skiing who demonstrates an exceptional level of commitment, leadership, and devotion to excellence.
Caterinichio is a lifelong Alaskan and decorated Nordic skier, as well as a passionate contributor to Alaska’s Nordic skiing community and longtime Board President of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA). The 2020-2021 Nordic ski season was one of the most successful, and significant, in Alaska’s recent history. In the Southcentral region, behind the guidance of Caterinichio and others, NSAA provided safe programs and events, as well as miles of groomed world-class trails, for thousands of skiers of all ages and skill levels, in addition to special community-wide events during the COVID pandemic.
“I’m humbled to be recognized with this honor, and especially thrilled to know that the award also reflects the importance of the work that the NSAA, its staff and volunteers do year-round to provide healthy lifestyles and special trails for so many people,” said Caterinichio. “In such a challenging time, the NSAA was able to remain an essential business and inspired people to get outdoors, recreate alone or socially distanced with others, which were positive boosts to their physical and mental health. I am certainly proud to play a role in this work and look forward to contributing more in the seasons ahead.”
Caterinichio also serves on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross-Country Sport Committee, the Cross Country Alaska Competition Committee, and recently completed a three-year term as President of the National Nordic Foundation (NNF), and remains on the NNF board. She is also a high school coach in Anchorage and owns Alaska Nordic Racing, a cross-country skiing training club, with her husband.
In her Al Merrill Nordic Award nomination of Caterinichio, Lisa Maurer, an Anchorage skier, parent and volunteer wrote, “As the Board President of (NSAA), Joey has been integral in building a community which has cross country skiing at its core. … As our communities grappled with the impact of a global pandemic, her commitment to healthy living has never been more appreciated. During these long months, Joey’s hometown of Anchorage has seen unprecedented trail usage, an expansion of grooming efforts, and a growing appreciation of the value of outdoor activity. Joey’s leadership during this time has been recognized across the community and has been reflected in historic membership levels and financial support for the organization.”
Kikkan Randall, recently named the new NSAA Executive Director, said of Caterinichio, “This award is well-deserved for Joey. She’s a tireless volunteer and advocate for our sport and our community. She’s an especially amazing asset to NSAA, which is coming off of one of its best seasons in its 50-plus-year history, as well as to Alaska’s tight-knit Nordic ski community and beyond to the national level, where she is known as a leader. I’m thrilled to see what we can do together for skiing in our community this season and in many years ahead.”
U.S. Ski & Snowboard notes that the Al Merrill Nordic Award is presented to the individual or group involved with any aspect of nordic skiing (cross country, nordic combined or ski jumping), who or which demonstrates an exceptional level of commitment, leadership, and devotion to excellence. Each of the nordic sport committees submits a nominee with the final selection being made by the sport committee chairpersons. Merrill coached the 1956, 1964 and 1968 US Nordic Olympic teams and for over two decades was the American representative to the cross-country committee of the International Ski Federation, the world governing body of ski racing. Merrill was the Director of Outdoor Affairs for Dartmouth College and its head ski coach from 1957 to 1972. He impacted positively on the sport and the people who came into contact with him.