Brothers on the slopes
Lindgren brothers compete in the same event for UNH
RIPTON, Vt. -- In the men’s 10k classic race at the Rikert Nordic Center, two brothers on the same team, Erik and Per Lindgren of New Hampshire, faced off against not only a field of 38 other collegiate skiers vying for glory, but also against each other. After two laps on the track, the brothers finished 26th and 27th, with the younger Lindgren Per out-poling his older brother by just 4.5 seconds.
Erik, now a senior and co-captain of the Wildcats, was initially attracted to New Hampshire because of the balance of its academic and athletic offerings. But he also appreciated what he referred to as proximity to home, even though the brothers hail from Pitea, Sweden.
“It had a nice location, wasn’t too far from home, but it was still in a nice area. If I went somewhere out West or Alaska, that would be a long trip. New Hampshire was a perfect combination of skiing and academia,” Erik said.
His brother followed him to the school and they spent two years competing together as Wildcats. The days leading up to the first NCAA championship competition was more like the race preparation the Lindgrens knew from home. Although this is Per’s first time qualifying for nationals, Erik competed last year and shared sound advice with his brother.
“In some ways it’s easier to perform your best when you’re at NCAAs because you have more time and effort from the coaches without the full team, you have several days to prepare and think about the course,” Erik said.
“That’s pretty much what he told me,” Per said. “It’s more similar to what we do when we race at home in Sweden. You have almost a week to prepare for two races as opposed to driving up on Thursday afternoon, ski the course for an hour, and then race Friday and Saturday.”
The brothers qualified to the championships by placing 18th and 19th in the season-long standings, so their sequential results, even from Thursday’s individual start race, were not that surprising.
“There have been individual start races where we’ve finished on the same tenth of a second, so we’ve usually been tight. It’s unusual for us to be more than 15 second apart,” Erik said.
Multiple pairs of siblings typically compete in the NCAA championships, but no other pair this year will race head-to-head against each other. Siblings Gustav and Maria Nordstroem ski for Colorado’s Nordic team while alpine skiers Hig Roberts and his twin sister Cassady ski for Middlebury and Colby, respectively. The Lindgrens have the unique experience of comparing their performances, and in some cases even finishing, side-by-side.
In the classic race, Erik improved upon his 39th place result last year to crack the top 30. He was just happy to have his brother around for his last weekend of ski racing.
“It’s fun, and it’s a nice end to my ski career with him and do these last two races. We talked about it earlier, even in the summer, saying 'Let’s hope we both qualify so we can have a fun last race weekend together,'” Erik said.
The proud Lindgren parents were unable to attend the races, but the webcast of the events enabled them to follow their sons’ rivalry, even on the different continent -- close as it may seem.