Game Day: Schember and Women’s Nordic Skiing Take Home the National Title

Before the first snowfall of the year, you might find a group of dedicated athletes training for Nordic skiing - using rollerskis. Often, students passing by are confused and maybe a little amused at the strange rollerskis. Nordic skiing isn’t really a spectator sport here at St. Olaf, but maybe it should be. Anybody who wins a national title certainly deserves attention.  

In Sun Valley, Idaho, the Ole women of the Nordic ski team competed in the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) championships.  The team won the combined championship, and we had individual first place finishes in all three events: the 1.5k sprint, 8.5 classic, and the 15k freestyle! The team was able to clinch the combined championship by winning the 15k freestyle and 8.5 classic, while holding up a strong second in the 1.5k sprint.

I spoke with Paige Schember '14, a winner of both 15k freestyle and the 1.5k sprint. When asked about how it felt to be a national champion, Schember said: "While it was exciting and exhilarating to take the individual national title, the best part was being able to compete and race as a team. We went into each race with a plan to do it together, and we pushed each other the whole way, focusing on beating the other teams.” 

Clearly the team’s strong bond helped them all to bring their individual talents and focus to each race in order to slide into first place.  Amazingly, Schember has had to battle through injuries and illnesses this year, including a sprained ankle, a concussion, and mono.  Schember passed the test of a true athlete, battling through obstacles and eventually overcoming then.  Schember said, “I felt extremely lucky to just be able to get out and race. Winning was just the cherry on top of a great week.”