Summit Skiing Takes Another Win

Focusing in on the history of Summit’s Nordic ski team


Fresh snow was on the tracks leading up to solid race days for high Nordic skiers all over the state. On both Friday Feb. 25 and Saturday Feb. 26, temperatures were cold, but that didn’t stop the Summit team from winning first place for boys and second place for girls. This was the 23rd State Championship win for the Summit Nordic team since 2003 with boys and girls combined. Reed Wuepper, a sophomore, won the skate race while Claire Mcdonald, a senior, placed 3rd overall for high school girls.

“This season was so awesome and the team environment is so welcoming,” said McDonald. She has been on the team for all four years of high school and is a team captain, and loves the coaching.

“We have a great atmosphere no matter who is attending a practice or race on a given day. Our athletes are super positive and supportive!” said head coach J.D. Downing. With the team being on the smaller side and also having athletes of different skill levels, it’s important for teammates to be supportive, especially in a sport that works your mind and body. 

“Summit Nordic is really interesting in that we have multiple mini-teams within one structure. We have very focused club skiers, skiers that split their time between high school and club, and skiers that only ski high school,” said Downing.

Nordic skiing is not a very well known sport worldwide, but the culture within the sport here in Bend and throughout the high school teams is a very diverse and accepting environment. 

Over the past 10 years, the team roster has decreased by about a third, but Downing hopes more incoming freshmen will be interested and teammates will recruit anyone who shows interest. 

“We have a solid track record of giving beginner skiers just enough help in the right situations to progress super fast as long as the athlete enjoys what they are doing and are willing to put in some practice time on their own,” Downing said. Nordic skiing may be a technical sport that requires a lot of effort, but it’s relatively easy to adjust to the motions for beginners.

Skiers on the team will experience a lot of one-on-one time with coaches to master technique and become more confident and comfortable on their skis. Athletes are always surrounded by teammates at their pace and skill level, so no one is alone out on the mountain.

The Summit team is technically strong and provides lots of opportunities to compete at different races, but it can also be as relaxed as new skiers want it to be. Nordic skiing is technically not a Bend Lapine sport, so it counts as a club credit.

“It’s not widely talked about, but Nordic skiing in high school really stands out on things like college applications, scholarships, and job applications,” Downing said. “Let’s just say that any winter sport that has been around for 5,000+ years has something going on.” 

And he couldn’t be more right.