With the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics this past Friday come a convergence of skiers and skaters from across the globe culminating in one competition in Sochi, Russia and watched by millions of viewers worldwide. What many students may not know, though, is that the Olympics may be closer to campus than they appear. Boston College’s ski team, figure skating club, and women’s hockey team bring the winter games to BC, sharing their opinions on what it’s like to compete in these wintery Games.
Being a member of BC’s ski team takes more than just a Northface and some thick socks.
“My alarm goes off at about 5 a.m., and we leave campus around 6-drive two hours, train two hours, then drive two hours back,” said Katie Cutting, CSON ’14. “We start practicing the first week of school, so it’s pretty much all year round.” In addition to their normal training in the Northeast, the ski team takes an annual Thanksgiving break trip out to Colorado to fit in extra training hours in prime conditions.
Cutting began skiing when she was just 2 years old and began racing when she was 8, coached by her father who was also a life-long skier, and was set to compete on the University of Vermont’s ski team before a serious injury. Her two younger sisters also joined in on the family sport. “My favorite part about skiing is when you get a 30-degree day, sunny, blue skies, and everything just feels right-there is no other way to describe it,” Cutting said. “We had one of those days in Colorado this year-it was just perfect.”
BC’s ski team consists of 20 students who dedicate their mornings and weekends to training and “carnivals,” another word for the competitions that consist of local ski teams. “There are about six carnivals in our season,” Cutting said. “But then we have other individual races that add up to 25 to 30 races throughout the year.”
Although Cutting herself does not have Olympic ambitions, her competitors and former teammates have very real Olympic goals.
“It’s just not as easy in the U.S. as it is in other countries to get on the Olympic team-you either go to college or go to the [Olympic] team,” Cutting said. “No one really goes from college.”
As far as the competition goes, Cutting has raced against many athletes competing in this year’s games. “Two girls that I race against normally are going this year: one is from Australia, another from Canada, and I think there may be another from Japan,” Cutting will be cheering on one of her favorite athletes in the 2014 games. “Mikaela Shiffrin is only 18 years old, but she is an amazing alpine skier,” Cutting said. “She was actually a former roommate of one of the freshmen on our team and she knows my younger sister, so we will definitely be rooting for her.”
As for finding time to watch the remainder of the 2014 Games, Cutting and the rest of BC’s ski team will be resting up for a busy month of carnivals and individual races culminating in the NCAA Skiing Championships in Park City, Utah in early March.
Women’s Hockey Team
With the BC women’s ice hockey team just coming off their own big victory against Boston University to gain them a spot in the championship game of the Women’s Beanpot, teammates Emily Field A&S ’15 and Taylor Wasylk A&S ’14 offered their own perspective on the biggest event in women’s hockey this year: the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
As there is no women’s NHL league, the ultimate dream for many women who play hockey is the Winter Olympics. “I think every girl thinks about playing Olympic hockey because there is no NHL for us to aspire to,” Wasylk said. “The Olympics is what every girl looks to beyond college. It is what every girl wants to do.”
The 2014 U.S. women’s Olympic ice hockey team roster not only includes one current Eagle, forward Alex Carpenter ’15, but also two alumnae: goaltender Molly Schaus and forward Kelli Stack, both BC ’11.
“We both know everyone on the team pretty well, so we are definitely big fan favorites of all of them,” Field said.
For both Stack and Schaus, this will be their second Olympics as members of Team USA. “Kelli Stack and Molly Schaus were here my freshman year, so I actually got to play with them for a whole year,” Wasylk said. “Molly and Kelli are great, and I just really want to see them do well.”
Many women collegiate hockey players appear on the rosters of countries’ Olympic teams. “A lot of schools have at least one current or former player on an Olympic team,” Wasylk said. “You can see it with the top schools. They all have four or five players on a team.”
Wasylk offered her own opinion in regard to what to expect for women’s hockey in Sochi once games begin. “In terms of the most competitive teams, it is almost always USA and Canada with Finland and Sweden right behind them,” she said.
Team USA has difficult preliminary round games, playing both Canada and Finland. “They have a really good team this year, so I think they can pull it off,” Field said.
As the Eagles enter the last part of the season, the team is encouraged by the progress they have made. “Recently we have come together, and we are starting to place nicely as a team, which is good timing,” Field said.
Figure Skating Club
Coming off the last competition of the season this past weekend, Becky Card, captain of the BC Synchronized Skating Club Team and A&S ’14, shared her insight into the Olympic figure skating events.
Like many little girls growing up skating, Card always looked forward to the Olympics. “Skating has always been a huge part of my life, so watching the Olympics was one of the best parts of the year,” she said. “Although it was unrealistic and I knew I probably wouldn’t be one of those people going to the Olympics, it would always be something that you would fantasize about.”
There is one skater in particular who Card is especially looking forward to seeing skate in this year’s Olympics: 2014 U.S. National Champion Gracie Gold. “I am really excited to watch Gracie Gold,” Card said. “I think that she is a beautiful skater. I don’t know why CoverGirl hasn’t snatched her up as a spokesmodel yet because she is really cute and really athletic. She has the classical skating look-so just watching her is wonderful.”
In terms of which events to watch, Card says she is especially partial to the ladies event. “I would say that women are definitely my favorite,” she said. “I love seeing what they are wearing. It is kind of like watching the Grammys or the Oscars. It is about their dress as well.”
But don’t count out the men for some good entertainment, as they perform some of the most difficult routines in figure skating. “Men’s is also very interesting because their level of difficulty is mush higher than the women.”
Finally, one of the big shake-ups in the figure skating world this year is the addition of the “Team Event” for the Olympics. It will work much like Team Gymnastics in the Summer Olympics and will end with one country claiming the figure skating throne.
“I think the ‘Team Event’ will be interesting,” Card said. “I am intrigued to see what will happen. I think this year will be a test round for future Olympics to come.”
This “Team event” is a big change for figure skating, which is thought of as a very individualized sport. “It is a very different concept for figure skating. You think of figure skating and you think of it as very individual,” Card said. Regardless, this year’s figure skating events will be sure to feature triumphs, spins, jumps, and falls marking it an exciting and nerve-wracking competition for all to watch.
This article was originally incorrectly attributed as being co-written by Caitlin Slotter. Instead, Caroline Kirkwood contributed to this report.