There was a time when Becca Nadler, an alpine skier for Harvard, forgot why skiing was fun.
She was skiing for a team in Quebec, chasing her dreams of making the Canadian national team, when she almost got burnt out on the sport she learned before she could even form complete sentences.
“Since I was a little girl, the Olympics and the national team and all those big goals were always in my head,” she said on Thursday evening while showing off her home country pride by wearing a Team Canada hockey jersey. “Then things didn’t go quite as planned. I spent one year on the Quebec team and I put a lot of pressure on myself and just didn’t ski well. I forgot why it was fun.”
“I just love the feeling of being on my skis,” she said. “I feel like the best possible version of myself when I’m on my skis – it just never gets boring.”
She was certainly the best version of herself in 2012, when she won the giant slalom race at the NCAA championships at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Montana.
Though Nadler skied really well that day, she said it took a while for her to realize she performed well enough to win.
“There was just one racer left after me and I came down in first, so I was like, ‘Oh, cool! I’m going to come in second in the NCAAs – that’s so good!’” she said. “Then, as the last girl was coming down, I heard the crowd go, ‘Ooh!’ I wondered why they did that. Then she crossed the finish line and I could see she was upset. My brain was just working so slowly, so a girl beside me turned to me and said, ‘Becca, you won!’ I was like, ‘No I didn’t.’ Then it slowly dawned on me and I was extremely excited.”
The championship was great, but Nadler said she really was just having fun out on the slopes in beautiful conditions.
“I just remember it was sunny, blue skies, and I was like, ‘Man, I really want to rip this GS course!’” she said. “I was just really excited to go skiing. I don’t think I looked at a timing board all day.”
With the win, Nadler became the first skiing national champion in Harvard history. She said the magnitude of that accomplishment didn’t sink in for a while.
“To be honest, coming from Canada, I didn’t realize how big a deal NCAA was,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is cool, I won a race.’ People kept talking about it, so then I realized it was a big deal. The recognition that came after was also incredible and very humbling. I never expected a response like that. It was pretty cool.”
This year, Nadler finished sixth in the giant slalom. She’s hoping to have fun and ski well in the slalom event, too, which was postponed from Friday morning until Saturday morning due to unsafe snow conditions.
“Unfortunately, we had to cancel the race because of the snow conditions,” Utah alpine coach Jaka Korencan said in a Utah press release. “The rain and the warm temperatures contributed to an unsafe race course. The forecast for tonight is cold, so we’re hoping to get a freeze so that we have a fair and safe surface tomorrow.”
Despite what will most likely be tough conditions on Saturday, Nadler is excited to get back on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort and compete one last time.“I skied well,” she said after Wednesday’s race. “I always think I can ski better, but sixth is really good and I’m happy with the effort I put in. It was fun. It’s a good confidence booster. It’s not all about the results, but having a good result helps going into the next race.”
Though Saturday’s slalom will be the last race of Nadler’s collegiate career, the neurobiology major said it’s not the end of the road for her skiing career.
“My greatest passion is still ski racing,” she said. “I’m actually going to keep chasing the dream next year and see what I can do. I’m just going one year at a time, so I’m not really sure what will happen yet.”
Saturday’s alpine events are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., with the men hitting the course first.