2014-01-17 / Sports Spotlight

Skier is on right track

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Many people may begrudge the onslaught of snowy weather we have received this winter, but for outdoor enthusiasts, like the members of the Scarborough High School Nordic ski team, it has been a welcome sight.

The winter weather came at a perfect time for the team, which began its season Jan. 8 at Twin Brooks Recreation Area in Cumberland.

Head Nordic ski coach Kurt Jepson said the team, which includes four boys and three girls, is small but still has the talent to compete against schools with larger teams and more established programs.

The Scarborough Nordic and alpine ski program was started as club sport at Scarborough Middle School in 2008 and sanctioned as an official varsity sports team at the high school in 2011.

“It is not growing the way we want it for sure, but it is staying the same,” Jepson said.

Unlike other Red Storm teams that have months’ worth of games against teams in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, the Nordic team only has four competitions against teams in the Western Maine Conference. There are other opportunities, however, to compete at invitational events, such as the Telstar Relays in early January and the Kennebec Valley Invitational or at the Eastern Cups, a series of five races for top youth skiers across New England.

Jepson is optimistic about the season, in part because of the hard work his skiers put into their training routine. One of the hardest workers is his son, Cam, who has been part of the Nordic program for the last five years.

“As a freshman last season, he was a consistent top- 15 finisher in conference meets, mixing it up with older, more experienced racers,” Jepson wrote in an email to the Leader. “He has increased his weight room and roller ski interval exposure over the summer and fall, which should make him a consistent threat to the top competitors in the conference.”

Kurt Jepson started the Nordic ski program eight years ago to give skiers another opportunity to compete.

“I thought Scarborough was a town that certainly could support a Nordic program. Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth have had very active, established programs for 30 years. I was surprised Scarborough didn’t have a Nordic or alpine ski team,” said Jepson.

Jepson is a local physical therapist who has provided physical therapy services for the United States Nordic ski team for 13 years, including during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Torino, Italy and Vancouver.

Cam said he used to compete in both disciplines in middle school, but stopped alpine racing after seventh grade to focus solely on Nordic skiing.

“I decided I wanted to focus on my Nordic career instead of alpine, which was getting in the way,” he said.

Cam said the atmosphere of a Nordic race, which covers a 5K course, was a better fit for him.

“It’s a culture where everyone is nice and fun to be around,” Cam said. “It’s got a great atmosphere to it. Instead of sitting inside playing video games, I’d much rather be out here skiing, where you have to push yourself physically.”

Cam trains on his own for the Nordic season well after the snow melts in the spring and well before it arrives every winter. He roller skis and builds endurance in the summer and fall and plays lacrosse in the spring to keep himself conditioned between winter and summer.

Cam said he hopes he can open people’s minds to the sport.

“A lot of kids don’t know about Nordic. If I place well, I can hopefully get the word out and people can discover it. It could be their passion,” he said. “It’s good to expose people to Nordic because it is a great sport.”

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