“I really like racing,” the sophomore says. “And I really, really like being outside.”
But it was skiing that stole her heart.
“I’ve skiing since I could walk,” Tofte says. “My parents kind of put me on a little pair of purple and green skis and shoved me out the door. And I got involved in racing when I was in seventh grade and my brother had been on the team ... and it kind of went from there. I skied pretty competitively in high school. I didn’t really want it to be a deciding factor when I went to college, but it ended up working out really well.”
Tofte entered Harvard as a talented skier and earned several top-20 results in her rookie campaign, but it was during this past summer that the skier really distinguished herself.
“There’s a saying that cross-country skiers are made in the summer,” City says. “Alena did a great job ... of getting in quality work.”
Tofte made herself into a top-notch skier despite spending a month of her summer with limited training options while doing field research in Australia.
“I was in the rainforest so I was kind of bounded by that,” the sophomore says. “And there wasn’t really a good road that I could go and roller ski on; it wasn’t very safe. So I ended up running for a whole month on about a ten minute loop and doing all of my long runs there—and I was watching out for poisonous snakes.”
Despite the challenges, Tofte built up a strong enough fitness base to compete with the region’s top skiers this season.
“You could count on her being in every race,” City says. “She ... keeps producing.”
The same could be said for Sheils and Nadler. For Harvard’s three NCAA-bound skiers, excellence comes standard.
—Staff writer Christina C. McClintock can be reached at email@example.com.