Nordic competes in first classic race of season

Energy from spectators pushes skiers


Colin Canaday

Freshman Lucas Tangelson crosses the finish line Jan. 11 at the Metro West conference. Park won three of its four races.

Colin Canaday and Harris Keekley

Winning three of its four races Jan. 11 at the Metro West conference at Elm Creek, senior captain Victoria Schmelzle said everyone was focused on winning their meet.

“The girls definitely wanted to continue to win — we’ve won all our meets so it was definitely big for us to keep that up,” Schmelzle said. “The boys had that same goal, and they hadn’t won a meet yet, so it was important for them to show up at that race. It was our first classic race, so everyone was ready to see what we could do compared to the other teams.”

According to head coach Doug Peterson, there was also a focus on improving the rankings of many skiers, something which the team partially completed.

“We’ve done pretty well so far with our girls’ team in the conference. The boys — we’ve had a few people out because of COVID(-19). We really wanted to pick up our fourth and fifth skier and get them up closer to the top five, and we sort of accomplished that today,” Peterson said.

Individually, Schmelzle said that internal competition within the team has helped her define goals and push herself.

“I wanted to win the meet. I lost the skate race to (teammate and sophomore) Hanna Wilsey, and then we won our relay race together, so there was a little bit of pressure to come back individually and ski well,” Schmelzle said. “My intention is to lead the team in terms of points, so that was definitely my goal.”

According to sophomore Luke Tomback, the team has been improving through hard work.

“I’m working on form a lot, but as a team we’ve been doing this a lot,” Tomback said. “The coach has been pushing us hard, getting us to work.”

Although working and pushing themselves individually, Schmelzle said that the energy and noise from spectators and fans can make a big impact on the performance of skiers, especially in the later parts of the race where exhaustion is common.

“Energy does make a big difference. About half way through the race, two or three (kilometers) in, your body gets tired, and just having people out there at each checkpoint to give you a cheer is really important,” Schmelzle said. “The energy that people bring, makes people ski a lot faster.”

According to Tomback, even beyond spectators, a lot of energy can come from the team before the race even begins.

“The spectators definitely help. Even on the bus coming here, we have great energy with music playing, which definitely helps me,” Tomback said.

Park will have its next Nordic meet 3:45 p.m. Jan. 18 at Theodore Wirth Park.