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Alumni Athletes
By J.L. Bibb

Sarah Konrad
Nordic Skier and Olympic Hopeful

Sarah Konrad knows NOLS inside and out. She worked as an instructor from 1986-1994, and during that time, Konrad was ubiquitous. “The time I worked for NOLS shaped a lot of who I have become,” Konrad says. “It’s a very powerful process. I really had to learn a lot about how to get along with people – not only for myself but also how to teach other people how to get along.”

Konrad says that her passion for racing eventually pulled her away from NOLS and into the grueling, demanding world of Nordic skiing. She began competing and succeeding in Nordic races of distances totaling 30 kilometers and more. Over time, she started placing in the top three consistently. She turned 30 in 1998 and began skiing in the Master’s competition, a division for over 30-year-olds. At the World Master’s in Lake Placid, Konrad won several medals in her 30-34-year-old age group, including gold in the 10-K Freestyle race and 4x5-K Relay race, and a silver medal in the 30-K Classic race.

Konrad had earned her M.S. in Geology at Washington University years earlier, but she began to pursue her Ph.D. in glaciology from the University of Wyoming, while competing full-time as a Nordic skier. Eventually, she started garnering national attention for her high-ranking finishes. In 1999, Konrad competed at the U.S. Nationals and placed fifth.

“I just decided to keep racing at the same time that I was doing my doctorate, and I got really close to making the Olympic team and the National Team,” she explains.

In 2001, Konrad earned her Ph.D. and signed on as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Wyoming, a job with a flexible schedule that enabled her to continue skiing competitively. It paid off. Last year, Konrad placed second overall in the 30-K Freestyle race. And in 2004, Konrad won the event, claiming her first National Title.

“It was just nice to finally win,” Konrad says. “I had been getting so close for several years, but I had never actually made it to the top of the podium.”

Unfortunately, Konrad says, the U.S. National Team has never called and invited her to join. So she resolved to do something about it. She has set her sights on a different target: the Biathlon team. “I called them (last year),” she says. “I didn’t know how to shoot at that point, but they said, ‘No problem. If you ski as fast as you do, we don’t care about your age.’”

Konrad is hopeful to make the 2006 U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team.

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