To ski after IMD is a question all of us face at some point in our junior careers. If you decide to ski after high school, the question of college skiing is next. If you decide to ski in college, the question of which college is brought to the table.
IMD's and BSF's skier Sofia Shomento decided to keep skiing, go to college and ski in the EISA (Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association) for Dartmouth College. Quite a different place and style from our beloved western skiing.
Here are her own thoughts on going east, college skiing, a new team and how she feels about it after a season under her belt. Thanks Sofia!
A New Family and some HOT Pink Hair
I never imagined myself sporting neon pink hair. Yet, this new ‘do, and everything it represents, has turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. Like pink hair, Nordic skiing is a tradition in the Northeast, a uniting thread in the lives of many. Community is my favorite part about this crazy, wonderful sport. The friends you meet at the starting gate and bond with at the finish last a lifetime. This is also true for coaches, who are our mentors, allies, and trusted confidants. My first concern when approaching the college search process was the community I would find at each school. I found another family at Dartmouth, in my teammates, coaches, and the Eastern racing community.
First things first: to ski or not to ski in college? It can feel like a huge life-altering decision. If you decide not to keep skiing, keep in mind that the sport and the community will never leave you, skiing will always be a part of who you are. Lessons that are learned through the days of early morning practices, uphill running tests, and being a valuable teammate permeate all facets of life and will continue to make you a successful individual. On the other hand, skiing in college is a great way to form an immediate group of close friends, making school feel more like home. Upperclassmen and coaches can provide resources, insider advice, and perspective when you have tough day (or just need a hug). Pursuing (and balancing) academics and athletics has made me grateful for the role of each in my life.
When making the decision to go East or West, and ultimately choosing a college, it’s important to keep your priorities at the forefront of your mind. Listen to the voice inside your head and the feeling you get when you step onto the campus. Ask lots of questions and consider some of these factors…
The EISA racing circuit includes all the Northeastern college ski teams. There are six racing weekends spanning from January to March. The races vary from team relays, to sprints, to 20km mass starts. Each weekend is called a carnival and they are equally as competitive as they are exciting and fun. The girls (some guys too) wear glitter, ribbons, and snowflake tattoos (go big green!) and cheer each other on. After the race, the parking lot is filled with yummy food provided by parents. The air is filled with excited chatter about the races and college life; the barriers between different teams are scarcely felt. This comradery has broadened my Nordic community. One can’t help but feel the tradition that fuels these races. This February, Dartmouth celebrated it’s 108th carnival weekend. It also overlapped with Valentine’s Day which meant ‘Carni Crush’, a tradition where each team gifts another with cheesy valentines, poems, and sometimes even musical performances (youtube if curious). This kind of thing only happens in the East. I haven’t skied the Western circuit but I am sure East or West you will find fast, competitive, and fun racing!
Skiing or not, East or West, Dartmouth or one of the many other wonderful colleges, choose the experience that speaks to you and reminds you why of you started skiing in the first place.