After attending and completing a teaching fellow year at Andover, Head Coach Keith Robinson ’94 works to fine tune the skiing mechanics of the Nordic Ski team during his 18th year as Head Coach. Robinson looks to lead the team to success in the last four upcoming races, all taking place at other schools. Due to Robinson’s extensive experience as a skier, the team has noticed an upward trend in performance throughout its last four races, according to team member Remy de Saint Phalle ’23.
“I think Coach Robinson’s coaching style is very productive, and it helps us improve our skiing. He has a lot of experience in skiing, and I think that really contributes to his prowess. I think he is very good at instructing people and helping beginners,” said de Saint Phalle.
How long have you been a Nordic Coach?
It’s my 18th year coaching the team here. I actually raced at Andover when I was a student here in the 90s, and that’s where I learned how to do it.
What do you love about skiing?
I like getting outside in the winter when everyone else is inside. It’s really pretty out there, and there is [nothing] better than when you have fresh snow, and you’re just outside and it’s quiet. It’s just really pretty and great.
What is your background in Nordic skiing?
I did downhill [skiing] recreationally. When I was at Andover, I was actually running Cross Country, and the trainer suggested that I try Nordic, because that’s a little less impact, and so I tried it. I love the sport. It’s a great mix of endurance and being able to be outside in the snow.
What are your goals as a coach?
Probably the biggest thing is being able to teach the kids a sport that they can go out of here and do, and [to] teach them to love getting outside and working hard.
What do you focus on during practice and what does a practice look like?
It obviously depends. I think over the course of a week, it’s structured to have recovery days built in, longer endurance days, [and] days where we’re working on technique—balancing things like that. I think also over the course of the season, that’s true as well. And weeks…where there is no snow on the ground, that can take different forms. Bounding, running, things like that. Some days will be harder, some days will be easier, but just trying to work on fitness and then technique.
What are some challenges of being a coach of Andover Nordic?
Well, the biggest one is I don’t control the weather. Sometimes there is snow, and sometimes there is not; it doesn’t really listen to me. So, we have to make do with what we are given. In December, it was great, and we were out skiing repeatedly. Right now we are doing a lot of dry land, and there is not a lot of ski practice to be had.
What is unique about Nordic at Andover?
Well, it’s a co-ed team. The practice is all together, and there are only a couple of those [types of teams]. And I think the other thing is pretty much all of our meets are away, so we spend a lot of time together as a team in transportation, and that is a pretty fun team bonding [activity].
How has the team progressed throughout the season?
I think we are doing well. A lot of the beginners have [progressed]. I think the fact that we were able to get out on snow pretty early in the season helped. And now, it’s about continuing to translate what we have talked to them about technique, and get better and better every time we are on snow. Our top skiers are doing well. In particular, [Co-Captain Eli Newell ’20] and [Sam Gallaudet ’23] had a really great finish where they had second place out of about forty teams in the race two weeks ago.