A way to unwind for body and mind: Nordic skiing

By Jamie Macpherson

While many Macalester students have just about had it with the snow, there is a group that is especially enthusiastic about it: The Nordic Skiing Club. Due to this year’s La Niña, lots of snow has been falling in the Twin Cities, creating many opportunities for the club to go out skiing. Captain Charlie Cosimini ’09 couldn’t be happier.”There’s way more snow this year,” he said. “We’ve been able to ski since late November. We don’t have to drive out to where they make snow. We’re in much better condition than usual.”

Being able to ski is very important to the members of the Nordic team. “I’ve been skiing [since I could walk],” said Co-Captain Sarah Van Etten ’10. Both Cosimini and Van Etten said that when they had been looking for colleges they had wanted to go somewhere they could ski.

“I started skiing in 7th grade,” Cosimini said, “Because my brother did it. And it was amazing, because he’s amazing.The first thing I did when I got here was look for the ski team.”

“People who ski are some of the coolest people at Mac,” Collin Cousins ’10 said. “That’s the biggest plus.”

Although Cousins is not on the team this year, he has been able to race. Two weeks ago he participated in the sprint section of the City of Lakes loppet. The sprint is part of a 33 kilometer race that ends in Uptown, Minneapolis.

“It hurt like no other,” he said, “but it was fun.”

The club is now training for the American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin. The race is over 52 kilometers long, and generally has 7,000-9,000 participants.

“There’s lots of stopping to breathe and eat,” Van Etten said.

Van Etten’s time last year was four hours and ten minutes. She predicts that the times of “elite” skiers like Cousins and Jakob Wartman ’08 will be closer to two hours.

In order to prepare for the race, the team tries to meet every day. They go to Como Park and Highland, local golf courses, as well as Theodore Wirth Park. Under the supervision of new coach Ari Osevit, a former Macalester student, the skiers work independently on specific goals Osevit has laid out for them. Some of the best moments at practice, Cosimini said, are the van rides home.

“We play rap in the van on the way home,” Van Etten said. “It’s the only time I allow ‘Cos’ to rap in my presence.”

When asked if she has any other fond memories of the team, Van Etten said, “They stayed at my house last year. That’s a memory.”

Whether there was more to that story, we thought it best not to ask.

While Cousins enjoys the group dynamic, he wishes it could be more competitive. “It would be a better team if the Athletic Department hadn’t taken away the varsity status,” Cousins said. “No matter how much they support us as a club, the fact that they took that away [hurts].”

The Athletic Department made the decision to remove the varsity standing of the Nordic team back in 2006, when it was dropped from the MIAC conference for budgeting reasons. At the time, many on the team were extremely upset. Cousins said that he asked about the possibility of re-starting the team, but was told, “there was no way.”

But the captains are not very upset about their club status. Both Van Etten and Cosimini said they prefer the more laid-back nature of being in a club sport. Cosimini said he enjoys being able to ski as much as he wants, while still having time to do other stuff. like homework.

Van Etten agrees, saying skiing is a great recreational activity. “People who complain about cabin fever and not seeing the sun really just need to learn to play in the snow,” she said. “You can shuffle along and gab with your friends, or go fast and feel powerful. In the end, it’s all about being happy. Skiing makes me happy.”

“It’s a very meditative sport,” Cousins said. “You get to enjoy the wilderness, at least the wilderness of Minneapolis. You ski at night, usually, and it’s really quiet.”

Cousins said he enjoys skiing in part because he’s able to shut of his brain for a little while, a relief to any Macalester student, and just focus on the movements of his body.