Middlebury’s up-and-coming Club Nordic team wrapped up their racing season this past weekend at the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference Regional Championship meet. In addition to a competitive racing season, the student-led club also organized free ski lessons and gear rentals throughout January and February to help new skiers get started.
The Club Nordic team has existed for years, but in 2019, Acadia Hegedus ’22 saw a need for a more structured training and racing program. She recruited a few members interested in racing, and since then, the club has grown to about 25 members who practice regularly and attend competitions.
The racing team is completely student-run, with six board members who develop training plans and rotate leading practices. In September, the team starts working out with roller skiing, running and weight lifting workouts before they have six to seven weekends of racing in January and February. Hegedus oversees the club as its President.
Middlebury Club Nordic had a strong final showing at the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference Regional Championship meet, hosted at Gore Mountain (North Creek, N.Y.). Leah Mowry ’24.5 and Sylvie Linck ’24.5 placed fifth and tenth respectively, and Grady Welsh ’24 finished 14th on the men’s side.
“The last race went really well––we all crushed it at Gore Mountain,” Helen Vaughan ’24.5 said. “It was pretty tough since it’s on the side of a downhill mountain, but we kept each other entertained and had lots of fun cheering for the boys afterward.”
Mary Nagy-Benson ’24.5 raced in high school and wanted to continue working out and racing in a fun but competitive atmosphere. “I was so surprised by the competition,” Nagy-Benson said. “There are so many skiers in Vermont. It’s really fun to get together and race.”
“There’s not a lot of pressure, but it’s still competitive, fun and inclusive,” Per Alexander ’24.5 added.
Club Nordic welcomes members of all abilities and facilitates free gear rentals and ski lessons for new skiers. The ski shop, located in the Bike Room at Adirondack House, is open two nights a week during the winter months, where students can rent poles, boots and skis. Students can also wax their skis for free.
“It’s a cool way to see skiers who aren’t part of the racing club,” Alexander, who also works at the rental room, said. “There are so many people who cross country ski on campus who don’t race. I worked in a ski rental shop over my Febmester, and so it’s fun to do something like that again.”
The team also organized ski lessons throughout J-term, allowing students to try Nordic skiing and earn PE credit in the process. “It’s fun to share your enthusiasm for the sport, and we could really see improvement over our lessons which was exciting,” Mowry, who worked as an instructor, said.
Hegedus, who recently designed unique Middlebury racing suits for the club, is excited by the team’s growth. She also expressed interest in having a coach to add more structure as more members continue to join the club.
“We’re in Vermont. We’re literally one of the best places in the country to go Nordic skiing,” Hegedus said. “I think having a coach and having some more adult support would be really nice to be able to support all of the students who want to make this a part of their Middlebury experience.”
Through Club Nordic, Nagy-Benson has enjoyed meeting a new community of eager skiers. “The influx of sophomores and sophomores Febs has breathed a lot of life into the program. With that energy, we’ll be able to recruit more people and have a big team.”
Ultimately, Hegedus has been grateful to foster an all-inclusive environment that accepts everyone and aims to help cultivate a passion for the sport.
“I’m really thankful to have been able to build up this team, and I really hope that next year, and in the coming year, it keeps going,” Hegedus said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without student leaders.”
Charlie Keohane ‘24 is an Editor at Large.
She previously served as SGA Correspondent and a Senior Writer.
Keohane is undeclared but is planning to study environmental studies, creative writing, and psychology. She is also a member of the women’s track and field team and a radio host on WRMC. This past summer, she interned at the Middlebury Admissions Office and now spends her free time hiking, sending snail mail, and FaceTiming her rescue dog, Poppy.