The Eighth Page

Recreational Cross-Country Skiing

After tomorrow’s highly anticipated athletic competitions at Exeter, Andover will sit back and reflect upon a great season. Our swimming teams, indoor track squad and diver performed phenomenally. But it is impossible to look back at the winter term’s athletic glory without considering one particular group of athletic superstars: the Andover Recreational Cross-Country Ski team. The team assembled at the start of the term in the back of the Cage with high hopes and plans to be back in their rooms by four o’clock. There was not an inch of snow on the ground outside. So, this elite group of athletes did the only thing they could do to sculpt their bodies without actually breaking a sweat or exercising: we stretched. We stretched for five weeks. The snow never came. But we continued to bend and flex and reach with the intensity we planned to bring out onto the snow. Finally, with only two weeks remaining in the season, old man winter dusted a few flakes out of his long white beard. It was time to ski. Adjacent to the squash courts, the athletic department realized there was a vacant closet. Old, rusty pipes coated with asbestos lined the low ceilings. The loud pop of the squash balls slapping against the wall rallied the skiers for a hard day’s work. As we trudged out into the snow, the real, varsity-level Nordic ski team whizzed by us in their spandex, with their “healthy” bodies and their “self-esteem.” The varsity skiers cut through the snow with ease, gliding across Siberia with great speed. The Recreational skiers had a different approach. We walked around Siberia, staring at the long skis attached to our feet wondering why we were wearing these sticks that hindered our walking. Captain James Freeman, a testament to the determination uncommonly found in a Rec. Nordic team member, refused to wear gloves in sub-zero temperatures. Taking it a step further, I refused to wear skis. After only five days of actual skiing, it was clear that we had come together as a team. We were prepared for the Big Race. All season, we kept talking about the Big Race. All of our training, our stretching and our “skiing” was leading up to this one event. Clearly, we had forgotten that we were participating in a recreational sport. But the imaginary cross-town rivals that had motivated us all season failed to show up. Coach said we made him proud. What a season it was. –Jonathan Adler