Erik Flora

Program Director & Head Coach, University Elite Team

Erik has pursued a life of ski racing through being a coach and competitor. As an athlete, he skied at National and International levelErik has been with APU Nordic Ski Center since 1996 as an athlete, then coach and now Director. As a coach, Erik has helped athletes achieve their goals. A three-time Olympic coach and personal coach to World Cup and World Championship medalist, he has been recognized by the United States Olympic Committee for National Coach of Year (all sports), National Coach of year for Cross Country Skiing, and Development Coach of the Year for Skiing. United States Ski Association recognize Erik with Cross-Country Domestic Coach of the Year, Cross-Country International Coach of the Year, and Development Coach of the Year awards while directing APU to two USSA Cross Country Ski Club of the Year awards. When he isn’t coaching, Erik loves to spend time with his wife, Gretchen, and their three young children in the mountains of Alaska.  

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Eric Strabel

Eric Strabel

Program Manager
Head Coach – Junior Program & Tour Group

Eric has been coaching with APU Nordic Ski Center since 2009. Eric grew up in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and had a successful athletic career before becoming a coach. In high school he won the overall state ski championship three times and had a top 10 finish at World Juniors. He later achieved 2nd place finishes at NCAA and USSA National Championships. Eric graduated from UAA in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Eric is a competitive mountain runner, winning the Mount Marathon race three times and held the men’s race record from 2013 to 2015. He loves to spend time with his wife Denali, often exploring Alaska’s wilderness. Eric enjoys coaching junior skiers to enjoy the sport, pursue their goals, build character, and bond with teammates.

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Galen Johnston

Galen Johnston

Head Coach – Devo, Grom, Master & Tour Program

Galen was born and raised in Talkeetna, Alaska. He first learned to ski as a mode of transportation from his home, to the nearest road a mile away when he was two. Galen grew up climbing, skiing and travelling with his parents from a young age. His family often camped out in venue parking lots the night before Besh Cup races (even in Fairbanks.) At age 11 Galen became the youngest person to summit Denali. This upbringing instilled an adventurous and playful spirit in Galen that he still holds onto. Galen skied for Susitna Valley High school until his senior year in 2008 when he enrolled and raced for APUNSC through the Early Honors program. Galen then pursued studies at UAA and raced for the Seawolves for two seasons. Now, Galen loves coaching a spectrum of ages and abilities from Jr. Nordic age kids as young as five, to APUNSC masters pushing 90. Galen has been coaching full time for APUNSC since 2014. If you don’t find Galen on the trails coaching, or somewhere waxing skis for the next race, you’ll likely find him off gallivanting in the mountains with his wife Cheyenne and dog Norten.

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Eliza Rorabaugh

Eliza Rorabaugh

Assistant Coach – Junior, Masters & Women’s Program

Eliza grew up skiing and racing in Fairbanks, Alaska. The youngest of three sisters, Eliza was eager to follow in their active footsteps. This led her to engage with the outdoors regularly. Eliza learned to ski as soon as she could walk, and grew to love racing even in the cold Fairbanks temps. After going to West Valley High School, she continued her ski racing career at Williams College in Massachusetts. After college, she continued to pursue a future with cross country skiing by becoming a coach. Eliza began ski coaching in 2017 for Auburn Ski Club in Truckee, California. In 2019, after two seasons in California, she moved to Anchorage and began coaching with the APUNSC Junior program for the 2019/20 season. Eliza also assistant coaches for the APUNSC Women’s group and West High School. In her spare time, Eliza likes going for long runs in the mountains with her dog, Poppy.

Jack Novak

Jack Novak

Program Coach – University Elite & Masters Program

Jack grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and began skiing with his mom at age 2 after being pulled behind in a pulk sled during his infancy. Soon after, Jack was hooked and started skiing with APUNSC as a Devo.  He grew up training in the APUNSC programs racing nationally and internationally achieving numerous Junior National Podiums and 2012 Besh Cup champion. Jack attended college at APU and skied for the University and the Elite team. He graduated from APU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology and has been coaching with APUNSC since 2017. Jack is now a full-time coach working with and coaching all programs from Groms to Masters, while also providing wax support at local, national and international/World Cup races for our athletes.  When Jack is not coaching you can find him outside exploring every nook and cranny on and off the map system filled with wildlife. Whether it’s on foot, bike, skis, boats, planes (or any other way you may try and move through the outdoors bushwhacking), Jack is out there enjoying what Alaska has to offer!

Naomi Kiekintveld

Naomi Kiekintveld

Assistant Coach – Junior Program

Naomi grew up in Anchorage, Alaska exploring the outdoors, learning to appreciate all of Alaska’s backcountry. While she didn’t start skiing until middle school she quickly fell in love for the sport and went on to place third at the State Championships in 2016 her senior year. She then left Alaska to ski and run for Michigan Tech. While unfortunate circumstances left her injured for most of the 2016/17 season, she decided to start teaching lessons while unable to race. This ultimately lead to her coming back home and coaching for South High School, which she is now the head coach for. Naomi joined APU as a Devos coach in 2019 and has since found a love for coaching at all ages. She is currently coaching the Juniors and traveling occasionally to support the Elite Team as a wax tech, as well as helping out with the Women’s group. She has also been on staff for Team Alaska at Junior Nationals and would have coached at the 2020 Arctic Winter Games. in 2022, Naomi was selected as a Trail To Gold Fellow by the Women’s Ski Coach Association, which will send Naomi to travel as a coach and tech with U.S. Ski & Snowboard during period 1 of the World Cup Season. While Naomi isn’t coaching she loves backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, and fishing with her partner Morgan. She is also the co-owner of Sixty First Parallel, a local ski pole company, a professional wedding photographer, and the General Manager of The Hoarding Marmot. 

Forrest Mahlen Headshot

Forrest Mahlen

Program Coach

Forrest began skiing for APU as a Devo in 2005 and progressed through every program we offer.  He spent his first two years of undergrad at APU during which time he qualified for two World Junior Championships. Forrest then took a three-year hiatus to race on the NCAA circuit for MSU Bozeman where he finished 5th at the NCAA Championships. After graduating with a degree in Political Science he returned to APU to continue racing and attend the APU MBA program. During his time as a professional racer, he compiled 20+ top 10 Supertour and USN finishes, several podiums, and one victory. He qualified for the 2021 Quebec and Minneapolis Sprint World Cups, but they were canceled due to the pandemic. Forrest now coaches across the program and works in the office providing support where it is needed. He says he is excited to experience the coaching lifestyle, but he is really looking forward to when he is even older and finally gets to join the Master’s team and can truly claim to have experienced all APU has to offer.  

Naomi Kiekintveld

Sean Clapp

Assistant Coach – Devo & Groms Program

Sean began skiing as a toddler and fell in love with the sport after joining the APU Devo Program in 2013.  He continued skiing for APU as a Junior athlete and skied competitively for South Anchorage High School as a Varsity and State Championship athlete.  During this time he also found success as a nationally competitive powerlifter, and set numerous state records throughout high school.  After graduating from the APU Early Honors program, and a short stint training alongside the Elite Team, Sean discovered his passion for coaching and working as a ski technician.  Now Sean provides wax support while coaching both the Devo and Grom programs, and spends his free time pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family.

Naomi Kiekintveld

Sara Miller

Program Coach – Women’s Group

Sara grew up racing in Anchorage and skied for the University of Vermont and Nevada, Reno. She has been coaching all ages and expertise for the past 20 years. She loves helping athletes grow and improve both physically and mentally. In her free time, Sara enjoys biking, running, triathlons, and helping the ski community as the VP of the Nordic Skiing Assoc. of Anchorage board.

Anna Darnell

Anna Darnell

Assistant Coach – Women’s & Devo Program

Anna who grew up in Anchorage, AK, joined the APU in 2010 as a member of the Devo team. She skied with the Junior team until the end of high school (2016) before spending two years at UAF and two years at UAA on their respective ski teams. She will graduate from UAA this December with her degree in Psychology. On the race trails, she prefers 5k skate interval starts, though you can find her crust skiing during the spring, particularly in Turnagain Pass. Fun Fact: Anna did ballet for seven years and is an NCAA All-American Skier.

Penny Smythe

Penny Smythe

Marketing & Development

Penny graduated from the University of Denver in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Communications. Having grown up in Baltimore, Maryland, she moved to Anchorage in 2005 and has worked in all facets of the marketing and communications fields for both private, public and non-profit sectors. Penny started working for APUNSC in 2019. She is proud to provide support for APUNSC through fundraising, marketing, communications, and other management for the ski center. Growing up, Penny played every sport thrown her way and became a competitive ice dancer. She along with her ice dancing partner were the 1998 U.S. Novice Ice Dancing National Champions moving onto compete internationally on the World Junior Circuit for the U.S. Figure Skating Team. While skating competitively, she trained at the University of Delaware. Penny learned to cross-country ski when she lived in Colorado and the juxtaposition between skating and skate skiing was natural transition. Penny has a love for coaching and working with all age groups. She has coached and taught ice skating and sailing since 1999 while in Baltimore & Colorado, and is currently a youth soccer coach with the Boys & Girls club in Anchorage. In her spare time, Penny loves to spend time with her 2 children, Eloise and Abe, and husband, Dale camping, boating, fishing, skiing, skating, traveling and anything else that revolves around fun in the outdoors.

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