The Nordiculous Skiing Club

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First year skiier Emi Morison (right) placed second in her division at the City of Lakes Race in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Maddie Blain ’15.

First year skiier Emi Morison (right) placed second in her division at the City of Lakes Race in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Maddie Blain ’15.
First year skiier Emi Morison (right) placed second in her division at the City of Lakes Race in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Maddie Blain ’15.

Minnesota’s long, cold winter can be a depressing time for some, but Mac’s Nordic Ski Club looks forward to their season out in the snow every year.

Nordic skiing differs in many ways from Alpine, or downhill, skiing. Cross country skis
are thinner, lighter and have a free heel. There are also two types of cross country skis—skate and classical—which require different technique and involve different motions.

In Nordic, you go both up and down hills, requiring a lot more cardio exertion than downhill skiing. “Skiing is a full body workout, so it’s about having a good core, arm muscles, and being in good cardio shape,” said Zoe Bowman ’16.

This year the Nordic team does not have a coach. Although the students have always taken charge in organizing most aspects of the club including coordinating practices and races, this has had the largest effect on novices. “Coach Kerstin Forsythe, who left this year, helped beginner skiers who would come to practice and teach them how to ski, but now that isn’t happening,” said Leo Kendrick ’16.

At the beginning of the season, alumnus Mark Skopec ’14 assisted the team, but now it is fully in the hands of captains Maddy Blain ’15, Bowman, and Kendrick. “Leadership is a lot better this year. Everything is working really well and the team is running more smoothly,” Kendrick said.

Nordic, as one of Mac’s club sports and an individually-oriented sport, is very loosely structured. With two practice options on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one practice on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons; and a wide range of commitment from its 30 members, things can get disjointed. “No one is ever making you go to skiing. There is no coach. If you are really intentional about wanting to create a close group of skiers, you can do that and it is great,” Bowman said.

That said, the team dynamic has improved since last year. “There is more of a sense of community this year. We’ve done a better job of being cohesive,” Blain said. “It’s a different sort of community from a varsity sport where you are with these people all the time, but it’s not like a class.”

A major downside to this season has been the lack of snow. It has limited the team to practicing at Theodore Wirth and Hyland Parks where snow is made, which are farther away, limiting the amount of practice time they get.

Another effect of the lack of snow is that ski races have been shortened. “When you’re trying to train for the Birkebeiner it makes it really hard if the longest you can race is a 15k,” Blain said.

Two highlights of the season have been the Book Across the Bay Ski Race in Ashland, Wisconsin, and the second place finish by Emi Morison ’18 in her division at the City of the Lakes race in Minneapolis.

The team looks forward to the American Birkebeiner, more affectionately called the Birkie, on Saturday, Feb. 21. The Birkie is a 55k on classic skis, 51k on skate, and takes place in Hayward, Wisconsin with competitors from around the world. This is the last race they attend each season, after which things start to wind down. “It’s the longest we do and by far the hardest. It’s also one of the biggest cross country ski events outside of Europe, which is really cool,” Kendrick said.

Nordic has skis, poles, and boots available and encourages people to come out and enjoy the Minnesota winter. “It’s a great way to make winter more fun,” Blain said.