No Snow? No Problem!

This winter, many athletes on Andover Nordic have been frustrated by the lack of snow, which has minimized the team’s practice time on skis. 

James Snow ’25 believes that warm weather has become a significant problem for the team, limiting its ability to prepare and perform well in competitions. To substitute the training done on snow, the team has  looked to other forms of conditioning according to Snow.

“Not having snow has affected our competition because, while running is a good form of conditioning, it is hard to prepare for races because of the lack of experience with the two forms of skiing, classic and skating. We have had more skating races throughout the season, so most of the team is comfortable with those, but the classic events have gone not so well for the people that are new to the sport. We have not had too much one-on-one coach time or coaches per group teaching kids how to ski properly, so the people who are new are trying to do the best they can in competitions despite this,” said Snow.

Caitlyn Chow ’25 described the changes the team has made during practices to prepare for races. Sharing a similar sentiment to Snow, Chow emphasized that races are the only time that new skiers are able to practice proper technique.

“Because we haven’t had snow in a while, what we’ve been doing instead is running and conditioning for races. Or sometimes, on dry land, our coach will sort of demonstrate what form we want to have when we do it. For the people who can go to races on Wednesdays, which is not a lot of beginners, there’s a lot of chances to learn how to ski at places where there’s actually snow. For me, I’ve never done it before, [so] it’s been really helpful to go to the races because I can sort of learn at a place where there’s snow,” said Chow.

The team typically relies on the Weston Ski Track in Weston, Massachusetts for opportunities to race – often competing against Rivers, Middlesex, and Belmont Hill. Due to the lack of snow this year, however, the course has been reduced to smaller loops, leading to more repetitive laps and detracting from the spirit of the sport, according to Head Coach Keith Robinson ’96.

“[The Weston Ski Track hasn’t] really even been able to make much snow this year. So, in addition to the last [race] getting canceled because it kind of melted out, even their snow-making loop, the course has been smaller repeats than usual. And so we weren’t really able to utilize the full stretch of course that we usually do. It just means more laps of the same course, and at some point, it gets away from kind of what’s nice in the sport, and like getting in the woods and traveling around when you’re just doing a 500 meter loop again and again,” said Robinson. 

Unlike in the past, the team has not been able to experience a variety of courses or terrains this year, according to Co-Captain Remy de Saint Phalle ’23. The team has had three out of the ten total races canceled so far this season.

“A significant portion of the team has not really had prior experience like I have, or Sam [Gallaudet ’23]… For those kids I think the biggest difference is them being able to go out on snow… Not having snow has affected our competitions because a few races have been canceled. We were supposed to have one on Friday and races have moved around. We have only gone to two or three courses so far this year, compared to a normal year where we go to one every week. Few schools have snow right now, so we keep going back to the same courses,” said de Saint Phalle.

In such a challenging season, the team has leaned on other schools for support. Despite the weather’s limitations, the team has taken advantage of the opportunities it has been given, according to Sage Preston ’25.

“We’re definitely at a disadvantage compared to the other teams because they all have snow, they all know what they’re doing… It’s just been rough. I feel like the other schools know that we’ve been without snow the entire season. Proctor [Academy] is offering to help us out with that on Wednesdays. We’re trying to deal with it in the best way possible, keeping up with positivity and not letting us get down because of that. Sam Gallaudet, one of the Seniors on our team who’s placing number one every single race despite all this, is keeping our morale up. Getting Andover those points that we really need, especially without the snow for practice,” said Preston.