Jackson Bloch ’15 has been one of nordic skiing’s most competitive skiers this season, with two top-25 finishes and an additional top-30 finish in five races so far this season. His lowest finish was 44th in races that can include as many as 90 skiers. Bloch also helped a relay team including Hannah Miller ’17, Tyler DeAngelis ’15 and Shelby Aseltine ’15 take 22nd place.

Bloch, a Falmouth, Maine, native started skiing in fifth grade and skied for a club team in high school. Bloch walked on to Bowdoin’s team as a firstyear with low expectations and earned a spot on the carnival team, comprisd of the six fastes skiers. He has held one of those spots for his entire Bowdoin career.

Nordic skiing has two different styles that are tested in carnivals: classical and freestyle. Classical requires more upper body strength and involves what Bloch calls “double polling,” which describes how the skiers move their bodies with their arms. Freestyle uses the legs to move as if skating. Bloch had performed significantly better in freestyle races until this season.
Bloch’s adjustment to college distance—high school races are only 5K while collegiate races are between 10 and 20 kilometers—was all the more unusual given his small frame. However, he believes that rather than hindering him, the increase in distance has contributed to his improvement.  

“I’m a small guy,” he said. “I’m not as powerful so I had to learn efficiency of technique and endurance. It gave me an area to excel in that I wasn’t exposed to before.”    

Shorter races allow bigger, stronger, skiers to essentially sprint. Longer races equalize that natural advantage by changing the skills necessary for success. 

“With a 10K, everyone is very capable of doing it, so I’m always finding places on the course where I can make up time on other people,” Bloch said. “[The 20K is more] grit and determination. After 15K, after you’ve been racing for 45 minutes, everyone’s tired. A lot of it is a mental game, especially in the last 5K.”

Bloch also credits Head Coach Nathan Alsobrook for exposing him to new training routines and additional ways to improve his technique, calling him the largest force behind his improvement. Alsobrook developed a 550-hour per year training regiment that Bloch starts each May. 

Training lasts through the summer. Bloch runs and roller skis when there is not snow on the ground. In addition to building up his strength, Bloch has worked on maintaining forward body position and starting races faster. 

One of Bloch’s favorite offseason activities is skiing a marathon. He enjoys these 50K races because they are often raced in groups of around 15 people, who will travel together until the competition necessitates trying to pass each other.

“He’s really good at finding efficiency in his skis,” Alsobrook said. “It’s almost unnatural how he is able to squeeze every last bit of energy out of his efforts. “

Alsobrook also praised Bloch’s natural ability.

“A lot of it is sort of natural athleticism, and he has a very thoughtful approach to the sport. His brain is a finely tuned instrument that helps him calibrate how much effort he needs for each movement,” he said.

Bloch will look to finish the second half of his season strong. He hopes to finish no lower than 30th and will attempt to earn a top-20 finish against Dartmouth College and University of Vermont skiers who rank among the best in the country. 

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.