With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games around the corner, winter sports are on the minds of many community members at Marlboro College. Plans are well underway for an improved 2.5-kilometer cross-country ski loop on college land, to be used for future training and races for clubs in the US Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, of which Marlboro is a member.
“Marlboro College is very fortunate to have such a wealth of forested lands, already crisscrossed with 17 miles of meandering trails for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and skiing,” said Kevin Quigley, president of the college. “Many students come to Marlboro because of its hilltop location, and the recreational activities available in our backyard. This new cross-country ski trail will take that one step further, and attract students who want to continue their Nordic skiing through college in an atmosphere of friendly competition.”
According to President Quigley, Marlboro is investing in this new facility to allow for proper training for Nordic skiers, beginning skiers, and the community as a whole. It will also support a program that will attract athletes looking to pursue a higher education, where students can also be athletes and well-rounded individuals.
“Marlboro will be one of the only colleges in the Northeast US that has a real training site literally on their campus,” said Marlboro junior Spencer Knickerbocker (pictured, right), a competitive Nordic skier who has promoted the idea of a club Nordic program at the college. “There are about 1,000 high school students who are on their school Nordic teams. Maybe 20 are at a level where they can ski at an NCAA Division 1 school, and the rest only have a handful of places to go if they want to keep skiing competitively.”
Knickerbocker grew up in the Brattleboro area, and attended a winter sports high school at Lake Placid, Northwood School, before competing for two years on the US Ski Team in the Nordic Combined events of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. He transferred to Marlboro from UVM, and now represents Marlboro in races with other college Nordic clubs, including those from UVM, Cornell, Clarkson, and Wellesley.
“I won a couple of races last year. I’m going up to Lake Placid this weekend—there are races almost every weekend until March,” said Knickerbocker. “The races are fun, and having a group of people to ski with is also, even if you don’t want to race—it’s a good culture. Marlboro is a place to come and get a really good education, ski, and be outside a lot.”
Not only will the new trail be available for races, it will be better for training and especially for beginning skiers to learn on, according to Knickerbocker. The Wendell-Judd Cup, an annual cross-country ski and snowshoe event taking place this year on February 10, already attracts a good number of local community members interested in hitting the trail, and this facility will bring students of a similar bent to campus. Funding is in place to work on the new trail over the summer.
“Marlboro already has the advantage over many colleges with Nordic clubs of a higher elevation campus, with considerable snowfall,” said President Quigley. “This improved trail right on campus will put Marlboro on the map for collegiate cross-country skiers.”