The Nordic skiing team placed sixth out of 11 teams last weekend at the Williams Carnival in Woodford, Vt., and will travel to Lake Placid, N.Y., this weekend to compete at Regionals, hosted by St. Lawrence University. This weekend’s carnival is the last chance for the Polar Bears to secure a spot at the NCAA Championship. Several of Bowdoin’s skiers are trying to make the final cut after a turbulent season.
Last weekend at the Williams Carnival, Carson Williams ’24, Adam Carlisle ’25 and Zachary Ennis ’24 all finished in the top 30 in both the classic and skate races. The women were led by Aggie Macy ’24, Emma Crum ’26, Jordan Grialou ’26 and Morgan Ritcher ’24, who all also placed in the top 30 in both races.
Regionals will mark the sixth weekend of competition for a young Bowdoin team.
“The season so far has gone really well,” Head Coach Nathan Alsobrook ’97 said. “We have a relatively inexperienced team with a lot of first-years, and even our older skiers lost a year with Covid, so it’s been a lot of learning and growth. They’ve overachieved and exceeded my expectations, so I am really happy with that.”
Macy added that the races tend to become more difficult as the semester progresses.
“We’ve had a solid momentum. Our first ski races were definitely the strongest ones because we weren’t in classes yet. Once you add classes into the mix, people are doing problem sets until midnight the night before a race,” Macy said.
This weekend will not be without its challenges for the Polar Bears. The Mt. Van Hoevenberg course at Lake Placid is notoriously difficult.
“It’s known to be the hardest course ever,” Macy said. “They just rebuilt a whole new course set up, and it’s very hilly. It’s going to be brutal, especially the 20k.”
However, Bowdoin is eager for the chance to prove themselves.
“It’s hard to know and hard to go into it with pressure on yourself knowing this is the last chance to qualify. It is also really exciting to have so many skiers and first-years in the mix,” Macy said.
Alsobrook said that there are about half a dozen skiers who have a chance at qualifying, but he stressed it is important to not get too caught up in the rankings.
“We are trying to focus on the things we can control,” Alsobrook said. “Have fun, ski well, focus on getting the best results you can on that particular day, and the results are just going to be what they are.”
Bowdoin typically enters the NCAA Championship as one of the smallest schools in the mix.
“We always end up going to NCAAs as underdogs, as a small DIII school amid these big DI and DII schools,” Alsobrook said. “It is super fun because it is the highest level of skiing we can get to.”
Nordic skiing is influenced by the weather, so race day conditions can impact the team’s preparation and the results.
“Our coaches wake up at 5:30 a.m. and are out there testing what kind of wax works for the day,” Macy said.
The team has seen a few races in slush and rain this season, but this weekend in upstate New York promises cold temperatures and fresh snow.
While Bowdoin’s competitive season is entering its final stretch, the team will continue to train all year round. Macy estimates that the skiers put in 500–700 hours of training a year, but during a six-weekend season, only race for about 12 hours a year.
“If you are just focused on the two months of the year that we get to be on snow, it is going to be a long, lonely wait, so you’ve got to enjoy the whole journey,” Alsobrook said.
Macy emphasized that spending time with her teammates also helps make the hard work worth it.
“We always stay in an Airbnb or condos together, so we cook together, and people hang out and do homework and watch movies after races,” Macy said. “We are just a family. Practice is just like hanging out, and it rarely feels like training because we are all just having fun pushing ourselves.”
Alsobrook believes that team bonding also leads to better results.
“Our unofficial motto is that happy people ski faster,” Alsobrook said. “It is not just about checking the boxes and getting the workouts in. It is about having a really good time out there, and that’s how I think we will ski the fastest.”
Bowdoin will race today and tomorrow at Lake Placid.