CXC Athlete Profile
These days Minnesota native and CXC Team athlete Alice Flanders has been keeping her eye on the prize; the prize being her steady upward progress towards national excellence in our sport. She has had her share of head turning results already, in multiple sports. Yet it is cross-country skiing that has captured her heart.
Like so many, Alice has been skiing stretching back to nearly her birth and her love for the sport just grew and grew.
“I guess you could say, I’ve been skiing since birth, however when I first started I thought it was like gardening. It was just something you did with your parents on a Saturday,” she told me in a recent interview, but her passion for the sport became clear in High School. “I didn’t start racing until High School and that was because one of the girls on the swim team told me I had a good chance of lettering because I already owned a pair of skis” she joked with me; “By my senior year I had stopped swimming and was training for skiing year round.”
With some real natural talent I asked her how she went about transitioning from HS skiing to college at Michigan Tech.
“It was really nice! Before school starts, Michigan Tech has the entire team on campus for a two week training camp. This is always a great time to catch up on everyone’s summer and to get to know all of the new people. It was very refreshing to have an instant group of friends that was as serious about training as I was. Making the jump with regards to training volume and intensity was a little bit more difficult, but ended up working out in the end. I was definitely exhausted for Junior Nationals that year, but that first season as a whole was phenomenal,” she commented.
Alice is fortunate to have long-time MTU coach Joe Haggenmiller working with her and I asked her how she has grown as an athlete skiing at MTU.
“Coming to Michigan Tech, I took myself way too seriously. I was generally super stressed before races, and way too worried about results that I couldn’t control. My first year I had a pole stripped out of my hand as I was climbing up one of the biggest hills on our home course. I got to the top of the hill hyperventilating and in tears because of what had happened. Two years ago, I face planted at the start of the race, then 100yds later lost my pole and had to turn around to pick it up. After regaining my equipment, I spent the rest of the race laughing and ended up having one of my best races. There have been a ton of ups and downs over the past five years, and each one of those has provided a new perspective of the sport and of myself. My times in both Skating and Classic have improved significantly, however the amount of mental stability these events has provided is by far the biggest growth Michigan Tech skiing has given me as an athlete and person,” she told me frankly and openly.
I could very quickly understand what Alice was talking about from my own racing career, where building mental strength and fortitude was also one of my biggest challenges, and it did come with time.
One of her main goals this year and every year is to continue to improve. This holds true for both the USSA rankings and in specific races.
“Some of my target races for this year are the Birkie and the 20k Skate race at US Nationals. This year I’m signed up for mostly marathons, and since I’ve only competed in 4 races over 20K, any improvement may be hard to judge. The other main goal (and arguably the most important) is to have fun. I love skiing and never want that to change. As far as future goals for the sport, I will have to see where graduate school and working puts me this spring,” she offered. I asked her how also working with the CXC program has helped her in working toward her goals. “CXC is providing me with all of the resources I’d ever need to continue to ski and more. With the stress of graduate school, trying to find work, and moving back and forth between Houghton and the Twin Cities, this is the biggest help anyone could offer. Without them I’m not sure I’d be able to keep racing. I am super grateful for everything they have done and am looking forward to the rest of our training camps and the race season,” Alice said.
We, of course, were happy to hear her point of view and suggest the CXC program for all young athletes who want to reach their full potential.
We believe a big season is in the cards for Alice Flanders and we can’t wait to watch her do just that. Her hard work and her expectations–and the countless hours of focus and training are an investment in her skiing career that are sure to pay off.
ALICE FLANDERS – TOP RESULTS AT A GLANCE:
- 5th place at the Minnesota State High School meet (2010)
- All-Region 2nd team (2011)
- All-American at Junior Nationals in the freestyle race (2011)
- All-Region 1st team (2012)
- All-American at Junior Nationals in the classic sprint and the freestyle race (2012)
- National Champion 3x3k freestyle relay at Junior Nationals (2012)
- All-Region 1st team (2014), NCAA (2014 and 2015),
- NCAA All-American (2015).
OTHER RESULTS INCLUDE:
- National Champion Barton Cup (Marathon Canoe Racing, 2010)
- 5th place 18-24yr Age-Group at Racine 70.5 (Ironman, 2015).
If you want to get to know Alice Flanders more, read her blog here!
by Peter Graves, Winter Olympic Games Announcer and CXC Writer Peter Graves has spent over 40 years in Nordic skiing, first as a racer, then as a USST coach and a USSA Administrator. He has worked in public relations and broadcasting promoting the sport, and has announced at eight Olympic Games. He is a long time voice of the Birkie and handles creative writing projects for CXC.