Captains Feature: Sean Burkitt and Elana King-Nakaoka

It’s hard to latch on skis, pick up sticks and skate without falling. It’s even harder to race slopes, hills and turns on skis. Nordic Captains Sean Burkitt ’14 and Elana King-Nakaoka ’14 understand these challenges and have lead both the boys and girls’ teams to master the difficulties of Nordic for multiple successful seasons.

Burkitt is a four-year Varsity member, while King-Nakaoka is a threeyear Varsity member. Both have been Captains for two years.

“As an avid skier, but also someone who did not start skiing until I was in middle school, I know how hard it is to pick up skiing and be a good athlete in a sport that rewards technique as much as endurance,” said Burkitt. “I try to balance these two aspects of the sport in order to help people not only do well, but also enjoy Nordic skiing.”

“Many members of the team have either never Nordic skied before, or have only just started in the past year or two,” said King-Nakaoka. “It doesn’t matter how strong or fit you are if you don’t know how to propel your skis forward efficiently, and it takes time and dedication to learn that. One of my biggest roles as a captain is to help people develop their technical skills.”

To make the skiing season as enjoyable as possible, both King-Nakaoka and Burkitt emphasize team camaraderie. Burkitt said, “As a captain it is my job to continue to make the Nordic team a home away from home, as it has been for me in the past.”

He added, “The Nordic team is a family, and when we all feel like we belong to this skintight, racesuit-wearing family, we train harder, enjoy skiing more, and do better at races.”
?The team often bonds during team dinners and travel to races. King-Nakaoka added, “We’re quirky, and we function pretty well that way. We’re one of the only co-ed teams on campus, and we have a super relaxed vibe when it comes to things like psyches, cheers, etc.”

“While we don’t do that organized, intentional team bonding, I’d say we have one of the most tight-knit teams I’ve ever been on,” she continued. “Many weeks we have to drive two hours each way to races, and I’ve had some of my best times at Andover sitting in the raly wagon laughing with my team.”

With practice, technical development and team chemistry, both teams are looking for strong finishes this season. Burkitt hopes Boys Nordic will finish in the top five at the NEPSAC Nordic Championships. King-Nakaoka hopes Girls Nordic will finish in the top three of the same race.

Burkitt and King-Nakoaka’s main goal, however, is not to win races or place in specific positions. Their main goal is for each Nordic racer to contribute his or her best to the team.

“Ultimately, I don’t care that much about where we end up in race results. Nordic skiing is about determination, and if I finish a race knowing that I left it all on the course, I’m happy,” said King-Nakaoka.

She added, “I’m proud of the spirit and toughness that my teammates demonstrate each week not only on race day, but at every practice. I hope that by the end of their experiences on the team, each member will have an appreciation for the sport, and that the values of endurance, drive and flexibility will stay with them.”