One of the reasons Lucy Garrec ’12 chose Colby was the hope that she might help build the women’s Nordic ski team into a serious contender.
It took her exactly one weekend of competition to raise expectations. In her very first college race, the 5K classical race at the Bates Carnival in January, Garrec came in third among 92 entrants—an extraordinary accomplishment for a rookie in an event that’s not her strongest.
That gave her confidence going into the skating race, she said. And the next day she was first among 82 skiers in the 15K freestyle. It was the first time a Colby Nordic skier ever won a race at an NCAA Div. I carnival, and it contributed to a third-place team finish in the event—particularly sweet, Garrec said, because that put the team ahead of perennial powerhouse Middlebury.
After just three carnivals, Nordic ski coach Tracey Cote said of the women’s side, “The only team we haven’t beaten yet is Dartmouth.”
Success as a cross-country skier requires, among other things, natural ability, fitness, nutrition, technique, psychology, proper wax, staying healthy, and a dollop of masochism. Garrec, from Freeport, Maine, evolved into a top skier gradually, often surprising herself as she progressed to a higher level. That was the case when, as part of a relay team, she won a Junior National championship as a high school sophomore.
Though Garrec was a top recruit, Cote said, she has surprised everyone by beating opponents she finished behind during high school. “You look for people who you think have the potential to do that, but then you just cross your fingers,” Cote said.
Garrec attended Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont her last two years in high school and chose Colby to stay in New England, to compete at the highest collegiate level, and because there seemed to be “a lot less hype” and competitive pressure than at some of the Vermont and New Hampshire schools, she said.
After sustaining her initial success with third- and second-place finishes in the next two carnivals, and holding the number one and two rankings early in the season, Garrec looked forward to skiing at nearby venues for the Eastern championships; Colby is host at Sugarloaf Feb. 27 and 28. And the NCAA nationals will be held in Rumford, Maine, in March with Bates as host.
The local championship locations are important to Cote as well. Expecting a baby in late March, she would have been unable to travel had the nationals been in the West.
After graduating three seniors, the women’s team welcomed a promising group of first years including Garrec, Kirsten Stray-Gundersen from Park City, Utah, and Missy Krause from Steamboat Springs, Colo. “In general I’m more than ecstatic about my women’s team. They’re skiing great,” Cote said.