Sault Stryders
Running Club

The Koskenojas - Tyler and Viktoria - will be calling the U.S. home soon
Reported June 17, 2003 by Peter Ruicci for The Sault Star
Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Brother and sister Tyler and Viktoria Koskenoja are U.S. bound.

With the flick of a pen, Viktoria Koskenoja and her older brother, Tyler, joined a exclusive club in Sault Ste. Marie.

Both will soon be scholarship athletes at U.S. schools.

It's hard enough for any Canadian student/athlete to draw the attention of an American college or university. But two in the same family helps boost the argument that superior athletic talents are indeed genetic.

"All the way through high school, that was our goal," said Viktoria, a cross-country skier, who signed a National Letter of Intent last week to attend Northern Michigan University in Marquette. "We knew if we worked hard all the time, eventually it would pay off."

Tyler, a city-record holder in the javelin and long-since committed to Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., is proud of what both have accomplished.

"I think it's great," he said. "I'm happy for her and I want us both to do well."

If the past is any indication, that should be a given.

The 17-year-old Viktoria, a Grade 12 student at White Pines Collegiate, was recently named to the Canadian National Junior Team, based in Canmore, Alta.

A two-year member of both the Ontario Development and Ontario Winter Race teams, Koskenoja won gold and silver medals at the National Championships in Collingwood last March. In just her third year as a cross-country skier, Koskenoja won the Junior Girls' 10-kilometre skate and placed second in the 7.5k classic race.

That performance helped her become a finalist for this year's H.P. Broughton Award, given annually to the city's sportsperson of the year. Alpine skier Brigitte Acton won the Broughton last Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Tyler, an OAC student at White Pines, holds both the city Senior Division (62.30 metres) and Junior Division (59.40 metres) javelin records.

After winning this year's city and Northern Ontario Secondary Schools Association crowns, he finished third at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Championships in St. Catharines.

It marked Tyler's second bronze medal, to go along with a previous gold, at the provincial level.

Besides their athletic prowess, both Koskenojas are outstanding students, averaging over 90 per-cent in their first-term classes.

While Viktoria, who'll major in science, and Tyler, who'll study biology, were looking for schools with solid academic reputations, the chance to work under talented coaches was also an important factor for both.

Tyler, who turned down offers from Harvard and Cornell, will be coached by Carl Wallin, who's helped Adam Nelson become one of the world's top-ranked shot putters.

"I can't wait to see what happens when I get a coach," said Tyler, who is basically self taught in javelin and hopes to also compete in decathlon at Dartmouth.

The decathlon features 10 events, including javelin, discus, and shot putt, along with tests of jumping and running skills.

Likewise, coach Sten Fjieldheim helped sell Viktoria on NMU.

"I've heard a lot of good things about him and he's very passionate about skiing," she said. "That's what I wanted in a coach. Plus, the ski team there is one of the best in the United States."