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Wonders retires from World Cup Cross Country Ski Racing

Hunter Wonders, an athlete on the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team has formally announced his retirement from World Cup ski racing. 

Wonders grew up in Alaska, along with several other members of the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team. He has always been a skier, whether that’s on the skinny skis or on the wider planks in the Alaskan backcountry. When he isn’t training or representing his country on the international ski stage, Wonders loves to bike, hike, backcountry ski and fitting for his last name, hunt. He’s a competitive canoe racer, his nickname is ‘Wonderboy’ and one of his favourite memories was the feeling he had after finishing the first 50k at a spring series race. 

Wonders has been a fixture in the cross country community for years, joining the Alaska Pacific University program as a junior and making the move to the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team in 2020, making his World Cup debut on Jan. 23, 2021 in the 30k skiathlon in Lahti, Finland. He raced in countless races at various levels including National Championships, Nor-Am Cups, U23 World Ski Championships, Youth Olympic Winter Games, World Cups and World Championships. Throughout his years racing, he was no stranger to representing his country on the world’s stage. 

His career highlights are endless. In 2018, Wonders was a member of the silver medal-winning 4x5k Junior World Championships men’s relay team and in 2020, was second at the U.S. National Championships in the classic sprint. On the World Cup level, the highest level of the sport, Wonders was in the top-30 consistently, had a career-best 11th place in the 2022-23 Tour de Ski and as the the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Head Coach Matt Whitcomb said, “re-established men’s elite skiing in the U.S. as an international force.”

“While Hunter is retiring from the World Cup at a relatively young age, he made international noise with breakthrough World Cup races this past season,” said Whitcomb. “He is on an expanding, yet still limited list of male athletes who have hit the top-20 in a distance World Cup. This past season, Hunter posted an 11th and a 16th in 10k events. Beyond Hunter’s power value as a skier, I will miss his human side. He is consistently one of the most helpful people I’ve ever met, constantly volunteering for side jobs to help the coaches or his fellow athletes. He’s the guy logging extra hours doing dishes at a team camp, or helping coaches refuel a fleet of vehicles before a travel day. These little things say a lot about a person, and whomever lands him next will be lucky. I have nothing but huge respect and appreciation for Hunter.”

“Hunter burst on the scene as a junior and contributed a critical leg in the men’s silver relay medal at the World Junior Champs in 2018,” said the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Program Director Chris Grover. “As a senior athlete, he steadily climbed the World Cup ranks, securing starts and representing the USA at two World Championships, Oberstdorf and Planica. In the 2022-23 season, Hunter broke through to another level with his first top-20 results, including an 11th place in the 10k classic in Oberstdorf. Hunter has been an incredible teammate and friend and he will be greatly missed in the program, but we are also excited to see where his next adventures take him!”

Off the snow, Wonders is successful in many other ways. Just days ago, he hit another milestone and successfully took his first solo flight in Alaska. Wonders was one of the athletes awarded the Take Flight Textron Aviation U.S. Ski & Snowboard Training Scholarship and is actively working towards his Private Pilot License. When on the road, you could find him studying to become a pilot in-between World Cup races.

Header image: Hunter Wonders before a World Cup race earlier this 2022-23 season. Credit: NordicFocus

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