C/O Dr. Natalie Lazarowych
Marauder Nordic skiing team makes an OUA splash, backed by community support and team effort
Over the Feb. 26 weekend, Nordic skiing entered the Ontario University Athletics for the second time in McMaster history. The results of the OUA Championships had the women’s team placing sixth overall and the men’s team placing ninth.
The Marauder Nordic skiing team is new and many of its athletes are in their beginning years of eligibility. For the team, this competition was largely about establishing itself and gaining experience in competitive racing.
The team finds much support in the community beyond just financially. Parents stepped in to help with timing races. Additionally, given that the meet was in Collingwood, many families there opened their homes to house team members.
Training is planned and supervised by a group of four individuals: head coach Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, women’s captain Milla Tarnopolsky, men’s captain Errol Bowman and assistant coach Cara Pekos.
While some on the women’s Nordic skiing team have prior experience, many on the men’s team joined the race as athletes from other sports. Bowman came from rowing, Lucas Wiens from triathlon and Nick Sammon from biking.
“Our name might not have gotten out there in terms of results a lot, but I think . . . We were one of the harder working teams. I think we fought with a lot of grit in those races,” said Sammon.
With the lack of snow on the ground, Nordic skiing training includes a variety of exercises that accentuate technique and endurance. These include slow cardio training, high-intensity workouts and fun ski-specific training such as roller skiing and ski striding.
“The great thing about a lot of the people on the team is that their fitness is already amazing so we just have to channel their energy into getting them forward and moving forward and [as] fast [and] efficiently as possible . . . I will plan on doing more technique sessions and potentially bringing in some club coaches [to] help give an external opinion on things,” explained Pekos.
Due to the difficulties of balancing a student-athlete life, many training sessions occur in the early mornings or late nights. For Sammon, training is a way to stay motivated and clear his head for his schoolwork.
“I find training when school gets hard is actually more beneficial. I'm more driven to stay dedicated just because I love to train and I love to exercise. So, if I have a really busy school week, the best way to get through it isn't by just grinding my [schoolwork] because it's those daily workouts and exercises that actually keep me going,” said Sammon.
The team also finds a lot of support with each other, committing themselves to making the training sessions and seeing each other there.
“It was mainly going and training with a group of people that helps keep you motivated, so if someone's counting on me to show for a strength workout, I'm not going to bail on them because they're going to show up at 8:00 a.m.,” explained Pekos.
As the Nordic skiing team is new, they have plenty of room to grow and improve their skiing technique. With the community and team support behind them, the team’s second OUA meet this year season is shaping towards a hard-fought and well-earned victory.