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Trying New Things

It's important to be able to feel comfortable enough to fail. Otherwise, how do you learn new things? Joey describes crashing a ton before finally learning how to cross country ski with Carleton's club team.

It's important to be able to feel comfortable enough to fail. Otherwise, how do you learn new things? Joey describes crashing a ton before finally learning how to cross country ski with Carleton's club team.


No matter the season — fall, winter, or spring — there are always fun things to do at Carleton.

As the weather in Minnesota cools, I’m reminded of one of my favorite club sports: cross country skiing (a.k.a. Nordic), and how it reinforced the idea that it’s okay to try new things and fail. I wrote about the culture of club sports at Carleton by focusing on club soccer a few weeks back; right now, I’m hoping to concentrate on my experiences with failure in cross country skiing.

Even though I’m from Nebraska, where it snows, I had never even heard of Nordic skiing before applying to Carleton. Once I saw this Admissions video featuring Carls (Carleton students) skiing in the arb, I knew it was something that I’d love to try.

Example of a XC skiing event.
Carleton skiers gather during the bean bag bowling biathlon fun race in 2019.

The first time I skied, I fell. A lot.

I’d estimate that I crashed into the snow ~20 times before actually skiing more than a few feet. This all took place in a ski resort up in the Twin Cities, about 45 minutes from campus by car.

Even though I fell a lot, I felt entirely supported by David and Cara, the captains who were coaching me. Admittedly, I felt a bit silly when a bunch of skiers zoomed by me while I laid face down in the snow. Through the whole experience, however, the ski captains cheered me on.

When the ski team isn’t off campus at a ski resort, we’re practicing in our beautiful arboretum.

The arboretum, or the Arb, is an ~800 acre land conservatory managed by Carleton. It’s a 45 second walk from one of our dorms, Goodhue! With a 15 mile trail system, the Arb is a phenomenal place to walk, run, bike, and, of course, ski.

The two types of cross country skiing — classic and skate — can be done in the Arb. Classic involves moving forwards and backwards, sometimes in a “track” made of tightly-packed snow, whereas skating is a bit more challenging, but can sometimes be faster than classic. Skate skiing feels similar to ice skating.

Beauty of arb/hill of three oaks.
One of the ski areas near dusk, captured by my friend Adam ’22. We lived in Goodhue together, which is just beyond the trees to the left. To the right is the Hill of Three Oaks.

Most recently, the cross country ski team took ~12 members up to Giant’s Ridge, a ski resort in northern Minnesota.

This ski trip, like all the others, was super accessible. Club cross country skiing does not cut members from the team; everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of skill level.

The ski captains simply sent an email to everyone on the cross country skiing email list, explaining the process of signing up for the weekend trip to Giant’s Ridge. They were able to take everyone who was interested! In the event that they could not take everyone, they would give those who could not attend priority for future trips.

Friends on a ski trip!
I got to know these Carls so much better during the Giant’s Ridge trip last February, 2020. Little did I know that this photo would be a precursor to one of the best games of hide-and-seek I’ve experienced!

I decided to sign up for the Giant’s Ridge ski trip last February because I thought it would be a fun way to get off campus and ski for a bit. While I didn’t know most of the people who were on the trip well, I was optimistic that I would enjoy getting to know other Carleton students.

As it turned out, I was right! We all grew closer through the 4 hour drive in campus vans, late nights full of relaxing skiing, and a night of hide-and-seek in our cabin.

Carleton does its best to create communities where students feel comfortable trying new things.

The kind culture set up by the cross country skiing captains made me feel comfortable falling face-first into the snow numerous times before figuring out how to ski. Thankfully, cross country skiing is just one of the many club sports at Carleton that supports students trying new things in a comfortable environment.

Our whole campus’ culture is focused on making students feel comfortable in new situations. In my experience, ultimate frisbee, club soccer, and the juggling F.I.S.H. all value maintaining comfortable environments where students can fall down and easily get back up. Through conversations with friends and interactions with other clubs, I am confident that our 200+ other student organizations feel the same way, too.


Joey balances his work for the American Studies major with his interests in Educational Studiesclub soccerultimate frisbee, and club cross-country skiing at Carleton. He learned to juggle while growing up in Papillion, Nebraska, and has taught Carleton and middle school students how to juggle through his involvement with the Carleton Juggling F.I.S.H. and a CCCE/TORCH after-school program that teaches juggling and magic at the Northfield Middle School. When not writing satire for the Carleton Salt or dancing with the social dance club, you’ll find Joey playing foosball in Sayles, burrowing into the Libe, or watching Avatar: the Last Airbender in a dorm lounge. Meet the other bloggers!