Former Bowdoin Nordic skier Kaitlynn Miller ’14 has been named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team and is set to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. Upon completion, she joins only seven other Bowdoin alumni who have participated in the Olympics.
Miller graduated from Bowdoin as one of the finest nordic skiers in the program’s history—setting most of the nordic skiing records that stand today.
Miller said in a phone interview with the Orient that the nomination came as a surprise and that she is thrilled to be given the opportunity.
“I did not expect the call. I had a pretty solid winter, but I was not expecting to be named to the team,” Miller said. “They basically called me the afternoon before they were officially announcing the team, and they had a certain number of spots left. Through their criteria that they listed earlier this year, I fit the criteria they named—which I was not expecting.”
“I know that Kaitlynn is a great skier, and she really has a future in the sport. But then again you can be a great skier and have a future in the sport, and you’re still probably not going to make it, just statistically,” Nordic Skiing Head Coach and Miller’s former coach Nathan Alsobrook said. “The odds are stacked against her, even as good as she was. And yet, she was still able to beat those odds because she kept working on it and steadily improved.”
Despite these odds, Alsobrook always believed that there was something that set Miller apart from other athletes.
“Kaitlynn is just someone who has an incredible feel, and she skis very efficiently. She’s also just a very grounded person, just mentally she’s very calm. She takes everything in stride. She’s very humble,” Alsobrook said.
Miller is one of 20 cross-country skiers who were named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. Her nomination comes after fantastic showings at the U.S. National Championships last month, where she placed third overall in the 1.3 km classic in Anchorage, Ala.
The United States has not won a medal in cross-country skiing since 1976. Yet in spite of this, the U.S. team still ranks among the top-six nations in the sport and hopes to break its 32-year drought this year. Right now, Miller is careful not to place any high expectations on her first Olympic appearance.
“At this point my goal is to get a start, and then I’ll take it from there. One thing that’s almost nice is when it is a new venue and new event and something where you’ve worked hard to just be there, you’re obviously going to go out and race as hard as you can,” Miller said. “You want it to be the best race as possible, but you’re also just happy to be there.”
Miller’s achievement is significant, not only for her, but also for those close to her.
“Obviously it’s exciting as a personal goal to qualify,” Miller said. “But I think I’m actually more excited for how excited everyone else is to be honest. The number of people who have reached out to me is incredible. I think it just reminds you of the community you have and how many people care for you and it’s been really touching and really humbling.”
When she participates in the games, Miller will join the ranks of seven other Bowdoin Olympians, including gold medalists Fred Tootell ’23 and Joan Benoit Samuelson ’79. To Miller, this achievement is especially meaningful.
“Obviously I feel very fondly about Bowdoin and really enjoyed my time there. I think it’s neat to come from a school where there aren’t that many Olympians,” said Miller. “But I think it’s in some ways more exciting to come from a team that’s not super well known, from a college that’s not super well known. It makes it that much more exciting, and you’re extra proud of your college. I think it’s great to bring that to the world stage, when most people are like ‘wait, Bowdoin? They have a ski team?’… No one knows about it!”