Griffin Mueller is a sophomore at Bates College and is a part of the women’s alpine ski team. Coming off of an ACL injury her first year at Bates, she has had a fantastic premier season with the Bobcats. Mueller will carry on that momentum, as she will compete in the NCAAs at Steamboat Springs, Colorado on March 7 skiing Slalom and March 9 skiing Giant Slalom.

How has skiing impacted Griffin’s athletic and academic career at Bates? I chatted with Griffin Mueller to learn about her first season as a Bates alpine skier.

The Bates Student (BS): When did you start skiing?

Griffin Mueller (GM): I started skiing when I was two, and have been racing since I was about eight.

BS: Why did you decide to ski?

GM: I grew up skiing, but when I made the decision to commit to it wholeheartedly, around my sophomore year in high school, it was because I loved the sport and the challenges it led me to.

BS: Comparing yourself to your freshman year, how have you changed as an athlete and individual at Bates? How has Bates impacted your skiing so far? Coaching-wise, environment-wise, teammates etc.

GM: My freshman year, I was out due to an ACL replacement after sustaining a crash in a race over Christmas, so when I got back to campus after surgery, I was mostly able to observe the hustle from my teammates and their fight throughout the season. That winter of rehab and school taught me how to be patient with myself and with my body. Bates has had nothing but a positive impact on my skiing. We are lucky enough to have all the best resources and work to take advantage of these resources at every step along the way. This is how our team will only continue to improve.

My team has played the biggest role in the success I’ve seen this year. Whether it was last year, talking to our captain Michael Copper ’19 about injury, in the gym this fall with our first-years deliberating on new lifts, or on the hill watching Hannah West ’21 and Emma Finfer ’20 rip GS, my team has been there every day, pushing me to get better and allowing me to learn from their skiing.

My coaches Micaela and Jake are also a huge part of this; they are up on the hill all day, every day for us, and the work they put into this team only encourages us to push the limits of what we can do every day to get better.

BS: Reflect on your season this year. What were your challenges? What are your major highlights?

GM: My season so far this year has been amazing and has gone by way too fast. Coming back from injury was one of the biggest challenges, and the start of my season consisted of endless hours focusing on the technical aspects of my turns and taking care of my body off the hill.

Our weekend of the Saint Mike’s carnival was definitely a major highlight. We got to race back-to-back Slaloms that weekend, due to the cancellation at the Colby carnival the week before. I started bib 49 and skied into top 20 the first day, which I was so happy about, but also knew my skiing could be better. So the next day, I made the move from bib 21 into 7th place, and our girls put three into the top 15, putting us right behind Dartmouth and UVM. The Williams carnival is also high on the list of highlights. After coming down into third on my first slalom run, and then fighting to keep it together after a mistake second run, I was ecstatic to see the end result of the day.

BS: What are your expectations for NCAAs? And how are you feeling emotionally going into NCAAs?

GM: I have the same expectations for NCAAs that I have for every race. I hope to just focus on my skiing and improve upon it from my last race. Emotionally, I am all sorts of excited. When all the hard work pays off, it’s impossible to not just look around and smile.

BS: How do you balance skiing, academics, and other aspects?

GM: The balancing act of skiing and academics is a marathon throughout the season. Knowing myself and what I need to be successful is one of the largest pieces to it. I often wake up very early to do work, knowing that after three classes and an afternoon on the hill, I will not be able to give my work the attention it deserves. Skiing teaches one how to be efficient. There is so much to do every day that, for me, it comes down to making a plan and then trying to execute it.