Promising New Athletes Help Grow Nordic Ski Team

While the Northwood Soccer and Hockey teams have been getting a lot of attention, the Northwood Ski program has also been building and accomplishing great feats. After all, our school is in Lake Placid, home of two Winter Olympics!

Led by the Director of Skiing, Tommy Biesemeyer, Northwood’s ski team of 26 students comprises 11 girls and 10 boys in the Alpine and 5 students in the Nordic ski teams.

Nordic skiers Daven Linck ’25, Sophia Kelting ’23, Bella Wissler ’23, and Abigail Van Dorn ’25. (Photo: Northwood NYSEF/Instagram).

Alpine skiing is the standard type of skiing with steep slopes, skis with metal edges to cut and carve into the slopes and the rigid boots fully locked into the ski. Nordic skiing is often referred to as cross-country skiing, where the terrain is not as steep, the skis are narrow, and the bindings allow the heel to remain free.

Coach Biesemeyer (or “BZ”) joined Northwood, having been a professional racer for 12 years and represented the USA at the 2018 Olympics. Northwood School also has a longstanding relationship with the New York Ski Education Foundation (NYSEF), and all the student-athletes are members of this body. NYSEF is the only Gold Certified club in New York State and provides support and opportunities for athletes to further their snow sports careers. The Northwood Ski program has grown since its origin in 1950, and the latest crop of talent has added greater depth to the team. In particular, the Nordic team welcomed 3 new students this year—Daven Linck, Abigail (Abby) Van Dorn and Jack Kroll, all sophomores.

“The Nordic program here at Northwood is growing; it has changed over the past 2 years. Last year it was just Sophia Kelting and me, and we were kind of forerunning how the program would look for a bigger team. Now that the team is growing, it is running smoothly and helping us to be stronger skiers,” says Bella Wissler ‘23. “With Daven, we now have a male skier on the Northwood Nordic team. He is a strong skier and has been doing extremely well this year. Abby joining the team this year added depth and she is a biathlete (skis and shoots) which is pretty cool! So, we have two biathletes which is the most Northwood has ever had,” Wissler notes with passion.

Kelting adds, “We are also hoping to kind of advertise and get some interest for more kids to join the program here and the team at Junior Nationals this year in Alaska. We are hoping for some good results this year to help promote the school. We have been skiing with Daven and Abby for a very long time. They are also from Lake Placid and Saranac Lake so it’s not a huge change for us. It’s been very good having them here.”

The team’s strength was on show at the recent Empire State Winter Games, held in the region on 2-5th February. It is the largest Olympic-style winter event in the Northeast and Northwood School was ably represented in the Nordic events by Sophia Kelting, Abby Van Dorn, Daven Linck and Bella Wissler. Over 3 days, athletes of all ages competed in 23 winter sports, including sliding sports, figure skating, sled hockey, winter biking, Alpine and Nordic skiing.

The cross-country skiing was held at Mt. Van Hoevenberg and the Nordic team competed in 2 events. Again, for the non-skiers, there are two methods used in cross-country skiing. The first is the classic method, a technique in which the athlete’s skies move back and forth in a parallel motion inside parallel grooves of snow. The freestyle technique is the fastest of the two methods, where the skier moves their feet from side to side in a manner resembling ice skating more so than classic-style cross-country skiing.

In the 10km Freestyle mass start (everyone starts at the same time) event, Kelting won the U20 Women’s comfortably in a time of 32:41 minutes. Van Dorn placed 3rd in the U18 Women’s and Linck placed 4th in the U18 Men’s event.

In the 7.5km Classic Pursuit (skiers start according to results in previous races), Kelting won the U20 Women’s, Van Dorn placed 2nd in the U18, a mere 4 seconds from Gold, and Linck placed 3rd in the U18 Men’s event.

Many would say that cross-country skiing is more difficult than Alpine skiing because moving forward on level terrain or up steep-hill ski trails needs considerably more power, endurance, and speed, making this one of the most grueling cardio events invented. The team trains extremely hard!

“This Nordic season has been pretty good; we have completed all of our mid-Atlantic National qualifying races for the season. We have one more New England Eastern Cup left before we leave for Nationals in Firbank, Alaska. The season has been going very well!” exclaims Wissler.

Kelting states “I’d have to agree, we have a pretty strong team, NYSEF and Northwood are in a great place. The program is definitely growing and is a lot stronger than last year due to our newcomers.

Junior Nationals is the next big thing for the Nordic program at Northwood. We leave March 10th and then after that we are done for the season. Hopefully next year, after Sophia and I graduate, there are more Nordic skiers at Northwood. There has been some talk about more ski jumpers coming to the Nordic Northwood team.”

The Northwood Nordic team is excited about the future and Sophia and Bella should be proud of the legacy they will leave. The Mirror looks forward to watching this team at the Nationals and wishes them the best of luck!


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