The Bowdoin nordic ski team is in the middle of an exceptional season this year, coming in sixth at the University of Vermont Carnival last weekend on a new course that was recently added to the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association circuit. Many Polar Bears had top finishes, with Elliot Ketchel ’21, finishing eighth and Jacob Adicoff ’18 finishing 19th on the men’s team and Renae Anderson ’21 finishing 13th and Ellie Hands ’18 in 20th on the women’s team.
Hands had her personal best finish at this race and is excited about the team’s successful season.
“This is our best season ever,” Hands said. “In the past few years, we have had a couple really good people, but this is the first year we have been as a team, really competitive at races. We have a bunch of new skiers who are really good, and everyone who has been here is moving up as well.”
According to Hands, team dynamics play a big part in its success.
“I think team dynamics are a very big part, and our coach is one of the main people who fosters our team dynamics,” Hands said. “He is always recruiting people who he thinks would fit well with the team. Since it is so individual, there is so much about how we work together in practice and push each other and support each other at races, things like if the men race first, they will all stay after their race to cheer for us out on the course and vice versa.”
Hands believes that in addition to being supportive of each other at races, the skiers have grown very close.
“I think that our team, out of all the other teams that we race against, is one of the closest teams, because we practice together and travel together,” Hands said.
Along with recruiting strong first years this season, the coach plays a crucial role in pushing the Polar Bears to a new level of performance, according to Hands.
“Our freshmen are both really strong on the men’s and women’s side,” she said. “There is a big effort to recruit fast people, and our coach has done an incredible job of bringing Bowdoin nordic from nothing to a school that is right in the mix with all the competitive schools. This is one of those batches where these fast people have decided to come here instead of [a school like] Dartmouth.”
Bowdoin’s nordic program has been getting attention recently due to Kaitlynn Miller ’14, who will be competing in the 2018 Olympics.
“It is really exciting for us that Miller who graduated a couple years ago is going to the Olympics,” Hands said. “Between that and this being the best season we have ever had, it’s really cool to get Bowdoin nordic on the map.”
The team hopes to continue its momentum going into the Dartmouth Carnival this weekend.
“Our team has been doing better every race,” Hands said. “I think now we are going into the end of our season, and people are really trying to push their sharpness. I think you build confidence over the season. I know for me that I really want to tell myself that I can do even better than I’ve been doing and push those boundaries.”