Alayna Sonnesyn; UVM Grad, Master-Blaster Daughter & Pro Skier

Posted by Alayna Sonnesyn on Sep 18th 2020

Alayna Sonnesyn; UVM Grad, Master-Blaster Daughter & Pro Skier

By Alayna Sonnesyn 

Hello, my name is Alayna Sonnesyn and I am SO excited to be a Bliz Athlete for the upcoming (hopeful) ski season! For those of you who don't know me, I was born and raised in Plymouth, MN by two master blaster parents who taught me to love skiing at an early age. Although I originally could only be persuaded to ski with the incentive of hot chocolate and cookies at the end, somewhere during the single-ski soccer games at Minnesota Youth Ski League practice, a competitor was brewing. 

French Park Minnesota Youth Ski League - Starting drills at an early age with Maria Schoening and Hannah Rudd (and older sister, Marit Sonnesyn, far in front of us). 

I grew up in the Midwest playing a plethora of sports (running, soccer, biking, swimming, etc.) as well as staying involved in various activities like student council, band (I played the french horn, mellophone and piano), working during the summers and hanging out with friends. In high school, I started to focus on endurance sports. I always wanted to be just like my older sister, Marit Sonnesyn, so when she decided to start running and skiing for the Wayzata High School Teams I decided I had to as well. Marit and I have a phenomenal relationship that I will forever cherish and she is my absolute best friend. However, as siblings do... we fought. A LOT! At one point early in my high school career, my sister said something to me right before a ski race that really pissed me off and just like that, I was unleashed. I started craving the competitive drive in racing while also admiring the love and support that my teammates gave one another while we worked together to earn numerous state and national team titles. 

My senior year of high school I had the privilege to run alongside my teammates and bring home a championship title at Nike Cross Nationals, a moment that I will always remember and still reminds me how grateful I am for remaining balanced in life. 

By the end of my senior year of high school, I decided it was time to hang up the running shoes and focus on skiing as I took a scary leap and moved out east to attend the University of Vermont and study Biochemistry. Leaving the Midwest was extremely intimidating to me at the age of 18, however, I believe it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I learned so much while skiing under Patrick Weaver as a Catamount! I continued my balancing act of academics and athletics as well as working on multiple leadership boards and working numerous jobs. My years at UVM were some of the best, most stressful, exhilarating, adventurous years of my life. One semester, I was taking four lab classes on top of my four lecture classes and meeting for practice twice a day. I loved every second of it (almost - there were still moments of tears), I was proud to be a VCat and honored to be racing on the team. This led to some tough decisions as I turned down multiple opportunities to race at World Juniors and U23 Championships.... 

Thanks mom and dad, for encouraging me every step of the way! Check out those Bliz glasses ;) (PC: 

Absolutely loved racing as a Catamount! (PC: 

Despite turning down a few chances to race for team USA, by graduation in 2018 I knew I was not ready to give up my dreams as a skier. I decided I could set aside my goals in the biochemistry world for a few years and take the leap into full-time skiing. I joined the SMS T2 Elite team where I was jolted into training sessions with Jessie Diggins and Sophie Caldwell. My first year as a "pro" was far from glorious as it took me a lot of time to figure out how to put all of my eggs in one basket. I had many moments of hesitation, unsure if I was doing what I really wanted. Although, after winning the 2019 American Birkebeiner and earning my first World Cup starts at the World Cup Finals in Quebec City, a new fire was lit and I was ready to jump ambitiously into whatever was thrown my way.  

Growing up in the Midwest, the Birkie has a very special place in my heart. 

Racing my first was absolutely terrifying! But it also inspired me so much! 

2020 has been a crazy year so far for me. Yes, there's been a global pandemic and a demand for social justice. Before that though, I was able to race my way onto three national podiums, earn my first European World Cup start spots including the Ski Tour 2020, finish last place in a world cup (that was fun) and travel through Europe with the fastest skiers in the world. Since said pandemic began, I have spent more time living at home with my parents and brother than I ever had since leaving for college six years ago, seen what it takes to succeed at the top level of ski racing which has inspired many new goals, been working part-time/remotely for a start-up company, attended a virtual bachelorette party, crashed on my roller skis and needed stitches, followed my male teammates off a cliff and slammed my back into a rock at the bottom of the lake (insert cheesy cliff metaphor).... And we're just barely halfway through the year! Hoping everyone can stay safe, find new adventures and continue to smile through it all!