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By Kara Herlihy
Harwood alumna Caitlin Compton was named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Cross Country Ski Team this week. The team selection was announced Tuesday, January 19, by U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) president and CEO Bill Marolt in conjunction with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
A former Warren resident and Harwood graduate, Compton is one of eight athletes who make up the 2010 cross Country team that will head to Vancouver on February 8 to represent the United States in 12 medal events. Compton will compete for the team in the distance ski events. The winter games take place February 12 through 28.
Compton was one of only four women named to the team; her selection was based upon strong performances at U.S. Nationals and her USSA points ranking.
According to Harwood Nordic ski coach John Kerrigan, Compton's road to the Olympics was long and tough.
"Most top Nordic skiers attend private ski academies and skip college to focus on training. Caitlin did neither. She graduated in 1998 from Harwood Union High School. She grew up in the Mad River Valley where she attended Warren Elementary and Harwood Union Middle Schools."
SKIING AND TRACK
At Harwood, Compton competed for Coach Kerrigan as a member of the cross country running, Nordic skiing and track teams and still holds several high school records in both cross country and track.
After high school Compton attended Northern Michigan University where she skied for Coach Sten Fjeldheim. While at NMU she became an All-American in both cross country running and Nordic skiing.
Following her graduation from NMU, Compton joined the CXC Ski Club of Minneapolis, where she now resides. She also briefly competed internationally as a member of the United States Biathlon Team.
THREE NATIONAL TITLES
Compton won three national titles in cross country skiing but was not selected to become a member of the U.S. Ski Team. According to Kerrigan, Compton received no support from the USSA and had to fund her Olympic aspirations herself.
"While most top Nordic skiers could focus solely on their training, Caitlin had to balance her training with fund-raising efforts and several part-time jobs. Her efforts and perseverance should be noticed by Vermont high school student/skiers," he said.
"This is a team that goes to Vancouver well-prepared, with proven success in major international competitions," said U.S. Nordic director John Farra.
The Olympic team coaching staff will be headed by two-time Olympian Pete Vordenberg.
According to the U.S. Ski Team representatives, the 2010 team is smaller than in the past, the result of a new Olympic quota system. U.S. officials are also optimistic of the possibility of additional quota spots becoming available later in January.
"While the team is smaller, we're also still confident of both having the athletes to challenge for top results while at the same time preparing first-time Olympians for the future," said Vordenberg.