Nordic Sports

Snowy Siberia Provides Comfort for Nordic Skiers and Members of Andover Community

Kate Pfister ’21 (left) and Christina Li ’21 (right) pose in the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary.

In the midst of the unprecedented changes resulting from Covid-19, the opening of Siberia to the entire Andover community is a rare positive outcome. With all interscholastic athletic competitions canceled due to the pandemic, Andover Nordic skiers can return to the familiar field to train while the rest of the community is able to enjoy a snowy Siberia with friends.

In a typical season, Nordic skiers complete all their training on Siberia. Due to its primarily flat terrain, simulating other courses’ inclined terrain can be difficult. But the team finds ways around the challenges and uses its flat surface to focus on the technical aspects of the sport, according to Sam Gallaudet ’23 and Christina Li ’21.

Gallaudet said, “Last year, normally we just went on Siberia every day there was snow and skied. If we can get on snow, that’s the best way to train. It’s like running on a track [because] you just use it for all of your workouts. You can go for long sessions on it, intervals, or speed workouts– whatever works for that day [and] I definitely think that [doing] intervals [and practicing our start speeds] are pretty good on Siberia because you can get your heart rate up. [The starts of] most races don’t go up or down a hill, so you can improve your start and speed on the flats.”

Li added, “We have a small hill leading from the outdoor track up to Siberia. When there’s enough snow, we’ll train on that but otherwise, we just do dryland drills to simulate going up a hill.”

While Andover Nordic experienced disruptions due to Covid-19, the pandemic’s impact on the sport has not been as severe as on some other seasonal sports as many Nordic skiers have found ways to continue their off-season training and stay fit, according to Gallaudet and Li.

“I’m also on a club team apart from Andover and we train year-round. We had to ski in pods and always wear a mask and stuff. Normally in the summer, you do roller skiing, which is basically just skiing on the road with wheels on your skies. So you do a lot of that and a lot of running and strength [exercises], which you can mostly do on your own or in a socially-distanced way,” said Gallaudet.

Li added, “I do cross country in the fall, which is usually how I get in shape for Nordic. I didn’t really have a cross country season either though, so I tried to sustain my baseline fitness by going out and being active however I could. I like to take walks with my parents so I did that a lot, and I also went on runs occasionally.”

Although Andover skiers have made the best of their situations by training on their own, the recent reopening of Siberia is welcome news. It has provided opportunities for the Nordic team to practice together again and also invited others to enjoy the outdoors. According to Gallaudet and Li, the convenience of the field being reopened and the new opportunity to share their sport with others is exciting.

Gallaudet said, “I’m pretty happy because I can hop on [Siberia] some days, and it’s only ten minutes away [from where I live] which is pretty amazing for me because normally I have to drive pretty far to go skiing… I’m happy it’s open, and it’s nice that the Seniors can go out and ski and practice so we still have a Nordic team.”

“I think it’s awesome that it’s open not just for Nordic but others too because I think nordic is such a fun and accessible sport, and it’s also really good for your health too. It’s also great to be outside and enjoy the snow, and skiing around is just fun in general, so I think it’s great that we have snow on campus that’s not just accessible to Nordic but to also [recreational] nordic, snowshoeing, and other community members of Andover, and I think it’s really great to be able to share this sport with other people,” added Li.