Senior Sonya Jampel rises to become best nordic skier in state, tells her story

Photo courtesy of Sonya Jampel

Photo courtesy of Sonya Jampel

Blake Krantz

by Blake Krantz and Andrew Mannix
After four years, two state championships, and another second place finish, senior Sonya Jampel has finished her nordic career at this school. She started racing as a freshman, and has seen tremendous growth in the following years, leading and representing nordic at this school.
“Freshman year I had a race where a ski fell off and I decided it would be a good idea to continue without it,” said Jampel.
This would not be indicative of her future in nordic skiing, for as the nordic ski captain, Jampel would go on to have great success in the years thereafter, rising to become the top skier in the state.
Jampel was state champion this year and sophomore year, as well as the runner-up junior year by a boot, in addition to qualifying for Nationals in Truckee, CA this February.
According to Jampel, Nationals was “definitely a good experience,” one in which Jampel “learned a lot” while racing the entire weekend with the best nordic skiers in the country.
Unfortunately, Jampel did not achieve the same amount of success in California as she did in States, struggling with the the altitude of roughly 7000 feet.
Jampel said she thought that she “was adjusted, but  felt very lethargic as if [she] had already raced.”
But despite her enormous success, Jampel was not always the skier she is today. Jampel went skiing for the first time in seventh grade, but she did not start skiing frequently until eighth grade, before beginning to race during her freshman year.
“I’m proud of how quickly I’ve picked up the sport, because a lot of people start when they they are really young.” “It has been really exciting to watch my improvement.”
Before Jampel was a skier, she ran cross country. One of her friends told her that skiing is more fun and that it would be a great opportunity to cross train. Jampel listened to her friend because it’s good to “switch it up” and “to not get hurt.”
What Jampel did not know is that she would soon rise to become the best in the state. She is even “upset that [she] didn’t start earlier.”
Nowadays, nordic has come full-circle for Jampel, who now prides herself on “teaching [her] brother Jacob, who is a freshman, how to ski,” to whom Jampel “showed the ropes” when he joined the high school team this year.
Jampel is “really proud of being the nordic captain” at this school, something that “means a lot” to her. She is also happy that she was “able to turn it around and teach the younger kids”, and working together with her co-captains Lauren Benson, Alyssa Kahn, and Alex Klavens.
Likely due to her immensely positive experience with the sport, Jampel hopes that many people become exposed to nordic, or any other sport which keeps them occupied.
“I firmly believe that everyone should try a sport and have exercise as a part of their life, because it makes them healthier.”
According to Jampel, it is very important for students to find a balance between school and other leisure activities. Organizing her schedule is key for Jampel, who spends much of her time skiing throughout the year.
Jampel is currently entering her only off-month of the year, April, as her club team, Cambridge Sports Union, practices 11 months per year. Jampel finds herself skiing every day for the vast majority of the year.
Within the seemingly never-ending ski season, Jampel’s two favorite months are February and March. “March is exciting because it is championship season, and February is exciting due to the large amount of races.”
In order to stay in shape, Jampel runs and roller-skis often. For conditioning, Jampel said that she does a lot of weight training, such as push-ups, dips, crunches, and squats. When Jampel attends Williams College next year, she plans to start lifting weights.
Due to the large amount of time Jampel devotes to nordic, she has found that getting her other obligations done is made easier, and school is less stressful.
After returning home from ski practice every day, she only has “two hours to get her homework done,” and therefore does not struggle with procrastination like so many high school students often do. She added that if she had time on her hands, she would push homework off and “get lazy.”
Even with its benefits, Jampel recognizes that nordic is not for everyone. “Some people are not endurance athletes and don’t enjoy standing around in the freezing cold for hours,” several things that Jampel could see as drawbacks to nordic in many people’s minds.
Jampel also added that nordic is a lot harder than it looks, and should not be viewed as slow. “One thing about nordic that people don’t know is that you can actually go pretty fast. I have gone up to 30 miles per hour, yet people generally think of nordic skiing like jogging,” she said.
Jampel credited much of her success to her coaches, who “have helped [her] technique and potential” and to her teammates, who “have been very inspirational.”
Overall, Jampel sees Annie Pokorny as her role model “She keeps a blog that I read which is very inspirational, with interesting stuff that is very connective. She transitioned from a college skier to a professional skier,” she said.
Special Education teacher Brian Collier, coach of the North nordic team, who had not known much about nordic before he became coach two years, said that he, even as the coach, has learned a lot from Jampel.
“Part of what makes Sonia so special is that she was not only willing to help her peers improve their skills, but she also embraced the opportunity to help the coaching staff improve their skills as well.”
Jampel has been successful in races, but she has also had the responsibility of being captain, a challenge Collier said she has embraced.
“I am most proud of her devotion to the sport and her commitment to helping her teammates. As a coach, personal achievements for athletes, like Sonia winning States, is great, but what matters more than individual accolades is having someone invested in the betterment of the team. Sonia has humbly embraced both.”