This year, Bates Ski led off the season with a strong start, finishing sixth out of 15 teams at the Harvard Carnival, eighth out of 15 at the UVM carnival and seventh out of 15 at the Colby Carnival. First-years have been paramount to the success of the Nordic teams during the 2020 season, especially on the men’s side where first-years Cal Schrupp ‘23 and Zander Martin ‘23 have been consistent point scorers.
Schrupp led the Bobcats in three classic ski races this season, scoring for the team in many others. While it may be reasonable to believe this initial success has been a mainstay in his skiing career before Bates, Schrupp said he almost dropped skiing during high school after years of competition.
Growing up behind Gunstock Ski Mountain in Gilford, N.H., Schrupp has been skiing since he was two years old. According to him, he hit his competitive peak around seventh grade. In the following years however, friends and competitors that he used to beat were soon passing him by. He attributes part of this to burning out after years of skiing.
“It’s a surprising amount of mental game that goes into endurance sports,” Schrupp said. “You feel like you’ve trained enough, or…You’ve tried a ton and something isn’t working. For some reason, you can’t push yourself or you’re pushing yourself and everyone else is just faster than you…To burn out for me would just be to think that I’m not gonna get any better.”
However, when his brother began skiing for Williams College, Schrupp realized that he wanted that experience too. He didn’t want his competitive skiing career to end after high school like it does for many athletes.
“When he made NCAA, I was a freshman [in high school] I believe, so I got to really see it. And it’s a great environment, the carnivals are, and what I’m realizing now…I’m going to be with at least all the freshmen [skiers in the northeast] for another four years and…It’s like a whole group of friends.”
While searching for a college, Schrupp said that Bates stood out in all regards. With excellent academics and a strong Nordic team that successfully balances athletic commitment and school work, for Schrupp the decision was easy.
“It was the only place I visited, the only place I applied,” he said.
Since coming to Bates, Schrupp has been an important point-scorer on the team. However, Bates Nordic took a hit when many of it’s skiiers, including Schrupp, became ill at the end of January.
Schrupp led Bates in the Classic technique at the Colby Carnival held at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine last month. This race, he said was particuarly challenging due to the sharp, steep downhill curves on the course.
“What I like about nordic is you get rest, although in that race you didn’t really get to rest because the downhills were so scary that you got to be on your A game in order to not crash.”
Yet, unlike typical races, some nordic races have interval starts where one athlete begins at a time. All athletes ski the same distance, but start at different times.
Because of this, it can be difficult to pace a race lasting almost an hour. When everyone starts at different times, skiiers can’t tell during the race how they compare to their competition.
His strategy: “Go out really hard. Lay off almost a little bit. And then you got to, at a certain point, you got to turn it back up. And just keep going until you cross the line.”
His favorite technique to ski varies, but for now he said he’s really enjoying Classic.
“[My favorite technique] changes,” he said, “But this year it’d be classic. It comes easier and I can go much further…Skating is more fun. You know, you feel faster, you probably look better to the to the viewer, you look more professional, but classic. Overall, I can I feel like I can move faster.”
One of his best memories with the Nordic Ski team this year was a trip to Rangely, Maine during October-break. The Nordic team rented cabins and focused on training hard each day.
“It was such a small cabin and there’s so many boys in there, it didn’t smell very good,” he said. “Time went by so quick. I knew everyone else is on break, but I was training really hard…We were having a lot of fun. We didn’t have any WiFi or anything. And it was, yeah, it was great.”
He said that he was particularly proud that his group won the pie-making contest.