Laura Aubrey Valaas
Laura grew up in the beautiful Wenatchee Valley with her parents, Peter and Susan, and siblings Ryan (26) and Kirsten (16). The family enjoyed many different outdoor activities one of which was cross country skiing. Laura skied with the local junior program under the coaching of T.J. Owen. In High School she started training more seriously and the highlight of each ski season was going to Junior Nationals where she enjoyed experiencing a new place, hanging out with her friends, and skiing every day for a week.
After graduating from Wenatchee High School in 2002 she went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA where she could race in the competitive NCAA Div I Western Region. Collegiate racing was tough and Laura struggled, and failed, to break into the top 20 in the Regional races her freshman year. So she trained some more. Her sophomore year she wanted to qualify for NCAA's-- she'd only have to make top 25 on the overall ranking list to get to go. She never finished in the top 20 and didn't get to go to NCAA's. So she trained some more. She qualified. She also earned All-American for both races at the 2005 NCAA's. Her senior year she won one of the Regional races and got a fourth place at the 2006 NCAA Championships.
Between ski races Laura managed to collect 5 National Champion jerseys from four Road Cycling Collegiate Nationals (3 in the Team Time Trial and 2 for overall Team Champions), race for Whitman's cross country running team for two years, write a copious amount of papers, dance in the "Matador" modern dance performance, and generally take advantage of the many opportunities Whitman offered. Whitman finally kicked her out in May 2006 with magna cum laude honors and a B.A. in Applied Mathematics with Minors in Physics and Gender Studies.
After graduation Laura had no plans except for a roundtrip ticket to Peru so she applied for the CXC Ski Team based out of Hayward, WI. CXC thought she'd be a good addition to the team so after returning from Peru she drove out to Wisconsin and started training full time. She trained and trained and trained. CXC coach Bryan Fish helped her to improve her technique and improve her fitness. The highlight of the season was going to races where she got to experience new places, hang out with her friends, and ski every day. She also earned what she hopes to be the first of her Medals from FIS-- a silver at the U23 World Championships in the classic sprints.
After a year in the midwest Laura desperately missed the West Coast and moved up to Anchorage. She now lives reassuringly close to the Pacific Ocean and to the Chugach Mountain Range. She's training with the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center and also is a member of the U.S. Ski Team. In her off time she works for the Alaska National Insurance Company and studies for her actuarial exams.