After its long period of dormancy, Deerfield welcomes back its Nordic ski team. Over the past few years, both students and faculty alike have expressed their interest in reintroducing cross-country skiing to the school.
The foundation for a competitive team was created by students Miles Griffis ’11 and Ellie Parker ’11, when last year they took an interest in creating a winter cross-country skiing club for the school.
This year head crew coach Ben Hamilton and Nori Welles-Gertz ’10 also took a serious interest in the sport, and the four of them collaborated to create the first Nordic ski team since 1989.
For the Nordic skiing meets, students will gather from many different schools and race skate-ski style on groomed trails through the back country of New England. The typical trails for each race are anywhere from five to ten kilometers long and span across downhill, uphill, and flat terrain. The races will be set up like cross-country running races where the skiers will line up in rows on a six-foot wide track before the competition begins.
The small group of students along with Mr. Hamilton wanted to create a team that combined a great opportunity for physical fitness with the enjoyment of competing outdoors.
“I raced in high school, and just loved it. I was really surprised that Deerfield didn’t have a team yet,” said Mr. Hamilton.
Three days a week, the team will practice at Northfield Mountain, on the lower level and surrounding areas that have cross-country skiing trails. The Nordic ski team from Northfield Mount Hermon has even invited Deerfield’s team to a few of their own practices so the skiers will get more time to develop their racing techniques.
The team plans on competing with both public and private schools including Holderness, Gould, and Vermont Academy.
“We’ll be racing about three or four times this season, and if we feel we’re ready towards the end, we plan on competing at New England’s,” said Griffis.
“The levels of experience range from those with long-time exposure to cross-country skiing, like Christina Lund ’10, to novices who just want to try the sport for the exercise and the outdoor component,” said Parker.
Skiers include athletes who are looking to prepare for their spring sports and those who want to try something new during the winter.
“Although there’s a huge range of talent, the enthusiasm is exceptionally high,” said Welles-Gertz.
For the time being, the Nordic ski team is registered as a recreational sport and will use this winter to get a feel for how the team works together.
“We have no expectations. We just want to go out there, have a great time and we’ll see what happens,” said Mr. Hamilton.