Skier Aggie Macy’s ’24 fall break—and the following eight days—were full of just about everything except for relaxation. She was among thirteen cross country skiers from all over the country who were selected for the National Elite Group (NEG) run by the United States Ski Team and spent over a week training in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This was Macy’s second time qualifying for and attending the training camp, which consisted of skiing intervals, technique sessions and races at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center—the course built for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Based on her performance last season with the Bowdoin Nordic skiing team, Macy qualified to participate in the New England regional camp over the summer. Her regional time trials earned her an invitation to the official camp this fall.
“Last year, when I was invited, I got an email, and I was freaking out because it was so crazy,” she said. “This year I had more of an idea that I’d probably make it given my results from the summer training camp, but … it was still so much fun to get to go and do that.”
The 13 NEG skiers were joined by former and current U.S. Olympic skiers and professional skiers from clubs across the country. Macy’s former teammate and Bowdoin alumna Renae Anderson ’21, who is skiing professionally in Minneapolis, also attended.
“The whole intent of the week was to see what it felt like to ski professionally. So, you’re just training a few times a day, eating and trying to recover to do it again,” Macy said.
Since there was no snow on the ground, the skiers roller skied, the off-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. Roller skis are wheeled wooden planks that allow a skier to practice a skating motion on dry land. While it is very similar to traditional skiing, it can be easier to pick up speed on roller skis. Macy said that she has gone up to 30 mph going downhill while roller skiing.
Her favorite trek during the training camp was from Salt Lake City to Park City, a path that climbed over 4,300 feet in elevation and featured some of the best fall foliage she had ever seen.
On Saturday, Macy competed in a ten kilometer skate race. Skiers were randomly seeded and started the race at 15 second intervals. Macy recalled Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins starting about a minute behind her.
“She’s arguably one of the best skiers in the world … I was just thinking, ‘Okay, how long can I hold on before she passes me?’” Macy said. “She passed me on the second lap, but then I just got to ski behind her the whole time, which was really fun.”
The change in altitude was a big adjustment for Macy, so her goal for most of the races was to enjoy herself and focus on her technique. She was surprised when she placed eighth among the competing members of the U.S. Ski Team.
“It was a pretty elite group of people, which is really fun. It was a lot of people who I have looked up to for a long time,” Macy said.
Macy said that training with the professional skiers was a welcome opportunity to consider her own future in the sport.
“I went this year and was like, ‘Oh, [professional skiing] is really fun,’” Macy said. “I’m just going to keep skiing while it’s fun. The second it’s not fun, I’ll take a step back. For me, training is a way to get outside, have fun, travel and connect with people. I don’t see skiing as exercise. It’s more of a way of life for me.”
Now back in Brunswick and looking ahead, Macy is excited for the official start of the Bowdoin Nordic ski team’s season this winter and all the team traditions that come with it.
“During Thanksgiving break, we do a camp together, so we train a bunch and all cook Thanksgiving dinner together,” Macy said. “It’s a good time. The team is a goofy squad. It’s a little family.”
Macy will also attend the NEG senior national championship, which will be held in Michigan in January 2023.