Okay. So they didn’t ski or
ride for Colby. But I like to think Olympic champions Lindsey Vonn, daughter of
Linda Krohn ’74, and Seth Wescott,
son of former track coach Jim Wescott, had a little Mule in them as they
raced for the gold in Vancouver. After all, Colby is one big family. So think
of this as the Colby family extended.
Krohn was in the crowd at the finish when her eldest nailed the
downhill and fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream. “Since she was a little girl,
she wanted to win more medals than anyone ever had," Krohn told the
Olympic-sized press pool. "Olympic gold is the ultimate.”
With her downhill victory,
Vonn is a household word now. But Krohn has been trailside rooting for her
daughter since Lindsey was a kid skiing on a bump of a hill in Minnesota. The
family moved to Vail, Colorado so Lindsey could train, and by the time she was
in her late teens, she was off and skiing.
Now Krohn watches her
daughter’s World Cup races on the Internet. She’s not alone.
Krohn is part of a group of
“Colby girls” who have stayed close friends since Mayflower Hill. The group,
including members of the sorority Chi Omega, gets together every year or two,
and they were all watching on TV when Lindsey flew to victory. One of the “girls” is Susie Hoeller
’74, an attorney in Arkansas, said she was thrilled for Lindsey and for Linda.
The medal win prompted
Hoeller to recall women’s sports when she and the others in the group were at
Colby. Women’s basketball wasn’t played full court because it was considered
too strenuous. Hoeller played on an intramural men’s hockey team because there
wasn’t a team for women. When she was told she couldn’t play with men because
she might get hurt, she and other women students started their own team. Some
of the new recruits showed up with figure skates.
“Maybe Linda had the ability
to be a ski champion,” Hoeller said, “ but there weren’t the same
Instead, Krohn will have to
“settle” for being a champion’s mom. Hoeller said Krohn, who also practiced
law, has been a stalwart supporter of her daughter’s career, and has overcome
obstacles in her own life.
“We have an enormous amount
of affection for her,” Hoeller said. “If you talked to any of the other eleven,
they would say the same thing.”
If retired Colby track and field and cross-country coach Jim
Wescott had stayed at the North Carolina State, Seth Wescott might be a
champion surfer. Or mountain biker. Instead Coach Wescott opted for Colby. The
rest is Olympic snowboard cross history.
Seth Wescott grew up skiing
and snowboarding at Sugarloaf (alongside many Colby students), and also tagged
along with his dad at Colby. He apparently absorbed some of his dad’s sports
Jim Wescott liked Colby’s
“healthy mix” of social life, athletic, and academics.
He encouraged training
partners to push one another to higher levels. "You hope they see the
value of it. You hope they continue to help each other in life," he told Colby staff writer and College Editor Bob Gillespie.
Wescott urged his charges to keep the fun in athletics, advising them to take
their running shoes wherever they went. “There's no telling what you'll see,
from the Champs Élysées to rabbits.”
It would appear that Seth
Wescott has taken that advice to heart. He doesn’t enter every race possible.
He surfs in the off-season, snowboards alone on big mountains in Alaska. He
still lives at Sugarloaf, where he owns a restaurant. He takes time to
encourage and mentor racers at Carrabassett Valley Academy, his alma mater.
But even long before his race
to the top of his sport had begun, his dad may have had an inkling.
In 1992, the Division III
National Championships for track and field were held at Colby. Wescott loved
the scene, the assembled athletes from all over the country. “It was like a
miniature Olympic Village,” Wescott said.
Little did he know … .