After over 20 years Nordic Skiing is back at Castleton University. Castleton previously had a Nordic Ski team in the seventies to the early ninties before it was dropped at the varsity level because of the high cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment.
Marty Maher was hired to lead the Spartan skiers in their return.
“I worked at Mt. Top and Mountain Meadows Nordic Centers in the late ‘70s and ‘80s and I can remember putting on races for Castleton,” Maher said.
Castleton Nordic Skiing was successful in the late ‘80s under former U.S. Men’s Olympic Team Coach, Mike Gallaher and Tom Heffernan.
The hiring of Maher tries to resurge Nordic skiing at Castleton under his 20 years of experience with the sport at the high school level. Since 2012 he has served as the head Nordic coach at Rutland High School, working with both the boys and girls programs. Prior to Rutland, Maher served as a physical education teacher and coach at Burr & Burton. He took over a nearly dormant program and just six years later his girls team won their first state championship. By the time he retired in 2012 he had over 20 Nordic skiers on his team and in 2014 he was inducted to the Burr & Burton Athletic Hall of Fame for his work as a coach.
With the addition of Nordic at Castleton, interest in the school will increase.
“There are a lot of high schools in New England and New York that offer Nordic skiing but after that the opportunities to continue are limited so for Castleton to bring back the sport it is a positive move for the University” said Maher.
Castleton Athletic Director, Deanna Tyson, agreed.
“Having this new sport it may attract more students to attend Castleton, especially those who live out of state or can’t get into Middlebury College where that is the only other college who has a Nordic Skiing team in Vermont.”
Before a sport can be confirmed, it has to go through President Wolk. Logistics of adding Nordic and whether the sport is a good fit for Castleton are factors in Wolk’s decision. Tyson will also have a say in whether the sport seems like a good fit.
After Maher was hired as head coach, he spent a lot of time spreading the word that Castleton was bringing back Nordic Skiing mentioning that everybody was very excited.
“The Athletic Department and other coaches have all been very helpful, it’s a very positive community here,” said Maher.
Right now there are 10 skiers signed up, five men and five women. Four of the five men have skied in high school, two of the five women have raced in high school and two of the other women were in the Nordic Ski club last year, which will still continue this year. The skiers collaborated this fall to come up with a uniform to wear
Since there is no snow yet, you may see some of the students out on the roads doing some roller skiing.
The Nordic Ski team is hoping for some colder weather soon as they start their season on Dec. 13 in Lake Placid. Their conference schedule begins Jan. 16-17 at Paul Smith’s College in Saranac Lake NY.
Tyson is very excited to have Nordic Skiing back at Castleton, as she is a skier herself. She is very excited to see how their first event goes as she has only ever seen Nordic Skiing as a recreational sport.
“My favorite part of being an Athletic Director is I love watching all the athletes compete, because I am such a competitive person. I also enjoy seeing what they do after college and how well they succeed,” said Tyson.
The Nordic Ski team is still looking for skiers.
“If there are any former skiers out there that would like to come out of ‘retirement’ and join us they are more than welcome,” Maher said. His Contact information is, Marty Maher, Marty.Maher@castleton.edu.