Nordic Ski Club prepares to hit the trails

Vincent Staupe

On a cold and windy Wednesday afternoon, University Nordic Ski Club members stretched in the lobby of Cooke Hall before heading outside for a run.

Members aren’t letting the lack of snow prevent them from preparing for when the white stuff actually falls.

The Nordic Ski Club, which brings together students interested in cross-country skiing, participates in many competitions each winter, according to kinesiology senior and club president Meleah Murphy.

“It gives people who enjoy skiing an opportunity to get involved in racing and to do what they like to do,” she said.

Nursing junior and group member Rachel Erickson said there is a misconception that cross-country skiing is boring, flat-surface skiing.

“They just think of their grandma skiing and it’s not true,” Erickson said. “There are some amazing hills we ski on.”

Many of the members said they joined the club because of their skiing involvement in high school and because it provides a healthy way to enjoy the outdoors throughout the winter.

Murphy said the club spends the majority of fall semester training and preparing for the competitions that begin each January.

“I usually say that we ski both up and down hill,” Murphy said. “It’s more about endurance and health benefits than just pure enjoyment.”

Unlike many other student groups, the Nordic Ski Club is also a part of the Department of Recreational Sports’ club program, according to the department’s associate program director Jessica Novotny.

“Nordic ski is one of those great sports that a lot of people like to participate in,” said Novotny, who also advises the group. “The club has been in good standing and done a fantastic job representing the University.”

The first big event of the season, Murphy said, is a group trip to Telemark, Wis., around the last week of winter break.

“We’re up there for a week where we just eat, sleep and ski, basically,” she said.

The area is on the Birkie cross-country ski trail, which also happens to be the location of the American Birkebeiner, the group’s last big competition of the season.

“It’s a real team-building and bonding experience,” Murphy said of the upcoming trip. “It’s pretty much the highlight of the season, I think.”

In addition to the American Birkebeiner, the club competes in several races, including the nationally renowned Vasaloppet in Mora, where first-year medical student and group member Bjorn Batdorf won the 42-kilometer race the past two years.

The City of Lakes Loppet, a 35-kilometer race held in Minneapolis on the first weekend of February, is also on the group’s schedule.

“We would love it if people from the University would cheer us on there,” Murphy said.

Cross-country skiing is all about enjoying winter in a healthy way, said global studies and French junior Iman Mefleh.

“It’s basically about being outside together with friends,” said Mefleh, the club’s vice president. “It’s a lifetime sport and it encourages wellness and health.”

And, while Murphy said the lack of snow is sometimes a concern, it won’t be a big deal if there isn’t enough snow in Telemark.

“We’ll just take a short trip up to Ironwood (in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) instead; I know there’s snow there,” she said.