The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Nordic ski offers a way to be at peace with the winter

By Caitlin Opperman

The frigid Minnesota weather may discourage many from outside activity, but Macalester’s Nordic ski team begs to differ. Every week they brave the winter temperatures and ski miles across parks and golf courses that are groomed as ski trails. Popular ski spots for the team include Como Golf Course in St. Paul and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

“With natural snow, we have ample opportunity to ski in the Twin Cities,” coach and Macalester alum Ari Ofsevit ’06 said. “We also take advantage of ski trails in Bloomington (Hyland), Burnsville (Terrace Oaks and Murphy-Hanrahan), Eagan (Lebanon Hills) and Elk River.”

This year’s season officially began with the return of skiers to campus after winter break, many of whom were abroad during the fall semester. Collin Cousins ’10, who was abroad in South Africa, struggled with getting back into skiing.

“I used to be a competitive skier, but I’ve only been back [for a short time] so it’s been difficult,” he said.

Teammate Sarah Van Etten ’10 agreed.

“My goals for this season are to remember how to ski and to try to get in some sort of shape after time off abroad,” she said. “I’ve been skiing much faster than I expected to, having only been skiing for a couple months; I’ve actually improved my pace time with some adjustments in technique.”

Focusing more on technique has been a large part of the season for the entire team.

“While we are different this year in that we have a couple of new freshman who have been coming on and off, the team is mainly old standbys,” Van Etten said. “We are more different in that we’re finally trying to improve technique this year.”

“This year we’ve been more organized from the start and have been getting more skiers on snow more days than last year,” team captain Charlie Cosimini ’09 added. “We’ve seen it have a great effect on the team as a whole, both in conditioning and enjoyment.”

Technique applies to both the recreational and competitive sides of the team.

“We have a range of abilities on the ski team, but everyone who has learned how to ski gets to race,” Cosimini said. “Depending on the background of the skier, the level of competition and what races they are in can vary, but no matter where you are starting from we can get you skiing faster and enjoying yourself on the snow more.”

“People are very dedicated to getting out on snow to have a good time. Certain people race, but because the sport isn’t varsity, you have to develop the competitive edge on your own,” Cousins added.

“I think the one thing we have in common is that we all love the sport. Skiing is about having fun. We do have a few people who get competitive, but mostly we just compete against ourselves,” said Van Etten.

On the competitive side, this season has been filled with numerous races, including the team favorite, the American Birkebeiner, held this past Saturday in Hayward, Wisconsin. The event is the largest Nordic skiing marathon in North America and draws thousands of skiers each year. This year approximately 6500 skiers finished the race.

“The American Birkebeiner is my favorite race of all time,” Van Etten said. “It’s 52 km of pure glory and skiing with seven to nine thousand of your closest friends. I’m from the area and Birkie is basically a holiday weekend in my family, so for me it implies family, friends and tons of delicious food that you don’t feel guilty about eating.”

In addition to enjoying the tasty fare, the team had a good showing in the results:

Cousins skied out of the elite wave as one of the top 200 Birkie skiers and finished 61st with a time of 2 hours and 27 minutes; Emily Howland ’09 completed her first full Birkie in 4 hours and 10 minutes; Emily Hanson ’11 classic skied the Korteloppet (a 23 km race held at the Birkie) in 1 hour and 57 minutes, taking 3rd place in her age category; Coach Ofsevit skied his way into the elite wave of the Birkie in 2 hours and 39 minutes, finishing in 195th place; and Van Etten skied with her younger sister, in what was her sister’s first full Birkie, finishing together at 4 hours, 9 minutes and 27 seconds and 4 hours, 9 minutes and 28 seconds.

The team’s other races have been similarly successful.

“One of our biggest races to date was the City of Lakes Loppet, which is a 35k race around Minneapolis that ends in Uptown and is the largest urban ski race in the Western Hemisphere; it was full of Mac skiers, alumni and even professors,” Cosimini said. “We also had a number of skiers at the Vasaloppet in Mora Minnesota, a 58k marathon.”

Coach Ofsevit hopes to hold a relay race some evening with local teams to round out the season.

With such a great season, the team’s rough history may be surprising. Nordic skiing was formerly a varsity sport, but the program was cut in 2004, and the coach was dismissed the following year. Revived as a club sport, Ofsevit took over coaching during his senior year in 2005-6. Following graduation, he coached high school skiers in Massachusetts before returning to Macalester. He is now in his second year as coach of Macalester’s ski team. Ofsevit skis right along with the rest of the team, leading practice and entering races.

This team camaraderie is one of the things the skiers enjoy most.

“Skiers are great people to spend time with,” Van Etten said. “The people and the crazy, fun times in the ski van with bumping music are some of my favorite things about Nordic skiing at Macalester.”

Nordic skiing also provides something to look forward to during the winter.

“I like the fact that we can truly enjoy winter,” Cousins said. “It’s peaceful to ski.

View Comments (9)
More to Discover

Comments (9)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Ava MillsSep 11, 2019 at 3:51 am

    I’m really inspired along with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is that this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  • E

    Eric GillSep 5, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your ideas right here. The other element is that every time a problem occurs with a laptop or computer motherboard, individuals should not go ahead and take risk involving repairing that themselves for if it is not done properly it can lead to permanent damage to the full laptop. It’s usually safe to approach your dealer of the laptop for any repair of the motherboard. They’ve technicians who’ve an expertise in dealing with mobile computer motherboard troubles and can carry out the right diagnosis and accomplish repairs.