Nationals on horizon for ski team
Nicholas Vespasiano, Contributing Writer
March 8, 2014 • 756 views
Several members of the St. Olaf ski teams have received invitations to compete in national tournaments over the next two weeks. This weekend, Nordic captain Paige Schember ’14 will be competing in the NCAA Skiing Championships in Solider Hollow, Utah. Nora Gilbertson ’16 and Evan Kendall ’16 will travel to Stowe, Vt. to participate in the Junior National Competition for skiers under the age of 20.
Both the Nordic and Alpine teams will then leave for Lake Placid, N.Y. on Sunday to compete in the USCSA (United States Collegiate Ski Association) championships.
“This season was a dream come true,” Schember said. “The team really bonded through training and race weekends, and I think we fed off of all of the positive energy to race better than we ever have before. I came into the season pretty unmotivated but once the races started I quickly realized how much I love the sport and love my team and I started racing really well.”
Schember is the only Ole competing in the NCAA Skiing Championship and the first to qualify since 2007. “I am so excited for the chance to represent St. Olaf at NCAAs, and I am even more excited to be able to race with my team the week after out at USCSAs,” Schember said. “A lot of hard work, training and battling injury and illness has finally paid off, and I’m definitely grateful.”
Head Nordic coach Thomas Jorgenson described this season as the most successful since the early 2000s. “Paige Schember and Jake Brown have had four separate Central Region podium finishes between them,” Jorgenson said. “Jake finished 11th overall in the 30k at US Nationals, Paige qualified for NCAAs next week and Nora Gilbertson and Evan Kendall both qualified for Junior Nationals. This is exciting stuff – I’m super proud of the team’s consistency as a whole, and it’s been fun to see them grow throughout the season and learn about themselves as skiers.”
The Alpine ski team also had a successful season and is poised for the USCSA competition. “We have not lost a single race this year in our USCSA race circuit,” men’s captain Matt Hoffman ’14 said. “As a team, the guys are stronger than in past years. One of the difficulties of skiing in college is taking a sport that is individual in youth groups and turning it into a team sport. I think that the men’s team has been extremely successful in doing this.” The team has improved on its winning margin each race this season. “The team is peaking right now, and we are ready to crush the competition at Nationals,” Hoffman said.
Women’s Alpine captain Madison McLachlan ’14 explained the hard work that goes on off the slopes to make a successful season. “A lot of people don’t realize that our sport starts long before the snow flurries fly,” McLachlan said. “We work our butts off in the gym, running hills and jumping over boxes to prepare for the on-snow season. That’s where the team camaraderie first develops. So really, by the time Nationals come around we are at our best physically and mentally. I couldn’t be more excited to share this experience with this group of people. This team means the world to me, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Congratulations to both ski teams on this accomplishment. The NCAA races will be on March 6 and 8 at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively, and can be viewed online at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.
Graphic Credit: EMMA JOHNSON/MANITOU MESSENGER