In wintry places like Minnesota, one can easily hibernate for five months to avoid the brutal cold. However, some choose to spend time outdoors.
Nordic skiing provides an opportunity to burn off the extra calories from multiple cups of hot chocolate and enjoy the beautiful scenery, and Macalester’s club Nordic Ski Team welcomes skiers of all levels—beginners and veterans.
Led by Liam DiZio ’16, Leo Kendrick ’16, and Mark Skopec ’14, the Macalester club Nordic Ski team starts its season in November and ends in February. The team regularly participates in two races—the City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival in Minneapolis and the American Birkebeiner (the Berkie) in northern Wisconsin—with about 15 to 20 people signing up for each. This year, the team could not go to the Berkie due to bad road conditions.
Not all three captains had skied before joining the team. Skopec, hailing from Austria, had never done it until a friend, Mira Hager ’14, convinced him to join when they were first-years at Mac.
“I started when I came [to Mac]. I’ve been downhill skiing and snowboarding, but never cross-country,” Skopec said.
DiZio and Kendrick, both Twin Cities natives, have skied since high school, yet find Mac’s club team very different. They had raced in shorter distances in high school, while at Mac they ski in 42K and 50K events. While their high school teams involved structured workout regimen and consistent races, the Mac team allows the members to set their own pace.
“[The Mac team] is very friendly,” Kendrick said. “The experience is much more relaxing than my high school’s.”
The six-week J-term break limits not only the team’s amount of training, but also the number of races the team can go to. Both the City of Lakes Loppet and the Berkie are held over the first several weeks of spring semester, and the unpredictable weather patterns restrict the number of days the team can go out to the trails.
“Before the Berkie, Leo and I trained really hard, and I skied pretty hard over the January term. But if you want to go out and chill, that’s what most people do,” DiZio said.
Novices have opportunity to learn from Coach Kerstin Forsythe, a Mac alumna, and practice and race with the team. Members do not need to own personal skis to join, as the team provides the necessary equipment on a first-come, first-serve basis. Skopec skied his first two years with the team equipment, and decided to purchase his own last year, as he knew he was going to keep cross-country skiing.
The captains credited the team members for making the ski experience adventurous and unique. Though the sport itself is inherently individual, the team works together to create a positive, supportive atmosphere. Hager, former co-captain of the team, continues to help out with the team, and Lucy Andrews ’14, serves as the “resident waxer” for the team.
They also thanked Coach Forysthe and Vanessa Seljeskog, the Associate Director of the Athletics, for guiding the team.
“So many people make the team possible because we all bring our own unique experiences to the table,” Skopec said.