Prep Nordic skiing | Area teams boast quality coaching
Local high school Nordic ski teams are in good hands these days and#8212; despite the barren state of their trails.
While Kara LaPoint of the Far West Farm Team brings her expertise to North Tahoe as a second-year head coach, two-time Olympian Nancy Fiddler joined the Truckee squad this past offseason as an assistant coach to Jon Halvorsen, who said he’s thrilled to gain a world-class Nordic skier and coach.
and#8220;It has been working great,and#8221; he said, explaining how Fiddler, who also helps coach the Far West teams at the Auburn Ski Club, recently moved from Mammoth to Truckee. and#8220;It has been a huge asset to have her coaching with the team because her skill, experience and passion for the sport provide our skiers with so many benefits and she inspires them.
and#8220;She really cares about kids and wants them all to enjoy the sport of Nordic skiing and to improve at it.and#8221;
Fiddler, who took up cross-country skiing as a sophomore at Bates College in 1976, competed in the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games and the 1992 Albertville Olympics, as well as four World Championships. She won 14 National titles during a lengthy career on the U.S. Ski Team.
Before skiing in the Olympics, however, Fiddler retired from the sport for a few years after unsuccessfully trying out for the 1980 Olympic Team. Teaching Nordic skiing became her passion, and she became a certified alpine and Nordic instructor through PSIA-W, ultimately serving on the PSIA National Nordic Demonstration Team in the 1980s. She returned to ski racing in 1986.
After retiring a second time from racing, Fiddler became the catalyst for the current Mammoth high school and middle school Nordic teams, as well as the Tamarack Gliders program and the Tamarack Masters program.
She now resides in Truckee while her daughter, Laurel Fiddler, attends Sugar Bowl Academy, which has built its own successful Nordic program led by Jeff Schloss, a highly respected former coach with the Auburn Ski Club and University of Nevada, Reno.
While Fiddler’s first season has been somewhat of a bust so far in terms of conditions and#8212; the first two races were canceled due to a lack of snow and#8212; Halvorsen said the Wolverines have still benefited from her instruction.
and#8220;She has been able to help out a lot despite the lack of snow,and#8221; Halvorsen said. and#8220;We have been skiing a couple days a week up at Auburn Ski Club, so she has helped our skiers out a lot with their technique. On the other days we have been dry-land training and she has provided a lot of assistance with skiing-specific workouts and consulting our athletes in regards to their training plans.and#8221;
Last week, Halvorsen said, after a long run in Cold Stream Canyon, Fiddler led the Truckee team through a 20-minute strength workout using some downed tree logs, a picnic table and boulders.
and#8220;It was great!and#8221; said Halvorsen.
Halvorsen said it is a little ironic that, technically, Fiddler coaches against her daughter at the Sugar Bowl Academy, which competes against Truckee in the California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation (CNISSF). But then again, he said, all the coaches and skiers share a camaraderie, and everyone helps each other out to create a friendly and instructional atmosphere.
and#8220;The Nordic ski community is really a supportive group and we all want each kid to do their best,and#8221; Halvorsen said. and#8220;Basically, we coach them during the week and then come race day, we help them get prepared and then encourage them along with all the kids from each team.and#8221;
LaPoint, 25, is quite familiar with the supportive Nordic scene in the Truckee-Tahoe area.
Born and raised in Truckee, she grew up skiing with the Auburn Ski Club and Truckee High, and represented Far West at numerous national competitions, including six Junior Nationals championships.
LaPoint went on to ski at the University of Denver, where she was part of NCAA Champion team in 2004-2005; she also qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual in 2007, earning a top-20 finish. She then transferred to the University of Nevada, Reno for her final year of collegiate skiing before competing for a year in cross-country running and track at UNR.
Since college, LaPoint has continued racing with the Far West Farm Team, which consists of elite Nordic ski racers between the ages of 20 and 29. She also has tried her hand at coaching, leading the Incline High Nordic team in 2009-’10 before taking over the North Tahoe program last season.
and#8220;Coaching has been an absolutely incredible experience,and#8221; said LaPoint, who also helps coach at the Auburn Ski Club. and#8220;It is truly rewarding to see the growth and development of the kids, and feel like you are making an impact in their lives, both athletically and personally. But moreover, they impact my life too. I am always surprised how much I learn from my athletes. I look forward to coaching them every day, and getting to know each of their unique personalities.
and#8220;Additionally, as an athlete, it is really neat to see and#8216;the other side,’ from the coaches’ perspective. It makes me really appreciate everything my coaches did for me as an athlete growing up.and#8221;