Harvard skiers have a tendency to fly under the radar.
But the Crimson’s top three skiers, freshman Rebecca Nadler and sophomores Alena Tofte and Catherine Sheils, didn’t need the spotlight to succeed this winter. Their results proved to be statement enough: the trailblazing trio qualified to compete at the NCAA championships.
REBECCA NADLER AND CATHERINE SHEILS
The top two skiers on the women’s alpine team stand at different heights and operate at different decibel levels, but the skiers will be go down in school history for what they have in common. On Sunday, they became the first women’s alpine skiers from Harvard ever to qualify for the NCAA championships.
“I’m thrilled,” Sheils says of qualifying. “I got edged out last year. This year it really means a lot to me. I am also really ... thrilled that Rebecca’s going. ... I think it’s just indicative of how far the program has come in the last five years under [coach] Tim [Mitchell].”
But success isn’t the pair’s only similarity. Mitchell says that the two’s focus and attention on the hill allows them to separate themselves from many of their Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association competitors.
“They both have that ability to narrow their focus and really execute,” Mitchell says. “When they’re on the hill, they’re there. They manage to shut out all the other distractions. In skiing, especially alpine skiing, one little tiny slip can ruin an entire race. The margin for error is so small. You need to be mentally focused.”
That focus comes from a lifetime on the slopes. Nadler came of age racing at Mont Tremblant, and Sheils spent five years at Burke Mountain Academy. Both took time off between high school and college to better their skiing as well.
“They both have fantastic work ethics,” Mitchell says. “They took that time to buckle down and work toward achieving a goal that they had.”
Each was already a seasoned skier when she arrived on campus, but this season the duo has been able to work together to reach new heights on the slopes.
“We can get each other excited—she pumps me up for the slalom, I try to pump her up for the [giant slalom],” Nadler reports. “It’s been really great to push each other and feed off each other.”
With her teammates succeeding in alpine competition, sophomore Alena Tofte is pushing her limits and making her mark on the Nordic courses. After all, you don’t become the Crimson’s first Nordic skier since 2004 to qualify for NCAAs by playing it safe.
“She has an ability to push herself quite hard, sometimes too far,” says Nordic coach Chris City ’94. “She’s still learning how to harness the fact that she has an unusual tolerance. ... Most of us hit a point where we say ‘this doesn’t feel so good.’ Alena has the mental ability to go past that point.”
Growing up in Duluth, Minn., Tofte participated in endurance sports all year round: cross country in the fall, skiing in the winter, track in the spring, and crew in the summer.
Skiing Propelled By Women’s Alpine TeamA lot of skiers have come through Harvard in the last 30 years, but never once in those years did the Crimson women’s alpine ski team place sixth in the giant slalom, as it did this past weekend at the University of Vermont Winter Carnival in Stowe, Vt.
Skiing Posts Solid ResultsIt may not have been home sweet home for the Dartmouth ski team, but the Big Green didn’t seem to care, as it won its relocated home carnival by over 50 points, leaving ninth-place Harvard far back in its snowy wake in Stowe, Vt.
Another Ninth-Place Finish for SkiingThe Dartmouth Winter Carnival this past weekend in Hanover, N.H. was more of the same, and the Harvard squad found itself in ninth place, sandwiched between two Saints—just ahead of St. Michael’s and behind St. Lawrence.
End of Season Sees Ninth-Place FinishDespite midseason upheaval, the 2011 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Carnival season finished exactly as it started: with the University of Vermont at the top and Harvard in ninth.
Skiiers Take Charge at NCAAsRebecca Nadler ended her season as she began it: as one of the best in the field. The freshman alpine ...
SKIING: Middling Results Characterize YearDepending on how you look at it, the Harvard ski team’s 2010-2011 season was either mediocre or wildly successful.