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Crimson Characters: Skiing's Anna Schulz

Editor's Note:
The feature story below on women's Nordic senior captain Anna Schulz, is part of a year-long commitment to highlight Harvard’s captains and other intriguing student-athletes. For more question-and-answer features click here and enjoy the high-caliber student-athletes whom we have come to enjoy.

Women’s Nordic captain Anna Schulz is the only senior on the Harvard women’s ski team, and has used that experience to lead the Crimson on the slopes during the team’s short schedule from late January through February. Schulz, who most recently finished 52nd in the Women’s 10k Classic MS at the Middlebury College Winter Carnival, looks to leave her mark on the Crimson program this weekend as the team participates in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.

What is your concentration?
Government. I probably should have gone with ESPP (environmental science and public policy), but I didn’t want to take organic chemistry and all those other infamous science classes.

How has school helped you succeed on the slopes? How has athletics helped you in the classroom?
Both skiing and school teach you that you have to put in the work to see results.
   
What has been your favorite class so far and why?
The Swedish classes that I’ve taken over the last two years have definitely been the best.  Annette Johnasson-Los is the best professor I’ve had at Harvard, and she’s also really nice and funny. I’ve had anywhere from two to six classmates, which goes to show that all of those NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schools don’t know what they’re talking about when they brag about small, intimate classes. Plus, it’s Swedish. Who else gets to learn Swedish?

What is one thing you’ve learned in a class at Harvard that really shocked or surprised you?
Viking helmets didn’t have horns!

What is the most important thing you’ve learned while at Harvard that you learned away from the classroom?
Financial aid is the best thing that ever happened to higher education. Some of the most remarkable people that I’ve met at Harvard have also come from some of the least privileged backgrounds.

Where do you hope to be five years after you graduate?
I hope to be in Sweden, Vermont, British Columbia, upstate New York, Oregon, Colorado...or pretty much anywhere with mountains, trees, snow, and an enthusiastic skiing community. Realistically, I’ll probably be either (a) living in my parents’ basement with David McCahill and Meri Burruss, or (b) keeping house for Chris Nabel, who is likely to sustain a number of food-borne illnesses before his time in med school is out.

How do you train for skiing when you are not actually on the slopes?
My teammates and I spend a lot of time running, weight-training, running with ski poles, jumping up hills on one leg, hiking, biking, paddling and most of all, rollerskiing.

What was your most memorable race to date? Why does it stand out?
My very first ski race is probably one of the few that I’ll never forget. I was nine or 10, the race was at Craftsbury, the snow was deep and slow, my parents had made me enter, and I was nervous (but just pretending to be grumpy). Although the race was short, I remember being really tired going over the last hill toward the finish, and some of the more experienced girls that I’d managed to keep at bay were gaining on me fast. When I reached the top of the hill, though, there was a huge crowd – all of the big-time racers (who were there preparing for their own race minutes later) had come to cheer us into the finish. My mom and dad and all of those racers were yelling for me to go faster, and I was so psyched out by all the noise that I just absolutely flailed my way across the line with a huge grin on my face. I don’t remember how I placed, but I do remember getting a moose-shaped chocolate lollipop at the end and deciding that if I always got lots of cheering and chocolate moose (no pun intended), that I would definitely trade basketball in for skiing.

What are some things a Nordic skier does to prepare for a race?
Everyone has his own routine, but you’ll generally find people testing wax, doing warm-ups, listening to music, or chatting. I think it’s a general rule of thumb, though, that all racers have to pee approximately eight times more than usual on race morning, even though the facilities for doing so are about eight times worse than usual.

Do you still try to stay active in soccer and lacrosse? If so, what do you do?
Not so much. Women’s lacrosse is an exceedingly frustrating sport – you run around in a skirt with a metal stick, but you can’t hit anyone with it. We play a little soccer on occasion when we have easy practices, but I hope to play with a club or something after college.

According to Mapquest, your hometown of Johnson, Vermont looks to be a very rural area. What are some things to do around there?
The best things to do are outside...skiing, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming and running. Oh! And Johnson just got its first pizza/beer joint, which is actually really good and has a healthy dose of local flavor. Last time I was in there, a flannel-clad man stood up from the bar, announced to a disgruntled waitress that he had to go home and kill his wife, didn’t pay a tip, and left. But there haven’t been any murders in Johnson in awhile, so I’m going to assume that he was exaggerating.

Besides the skiing, of course, what makes Vermont a great place to live?
Top 10 things:
1.    Nobody actually expects your car to pass inspection without some duct tape or expandable foam
2.    Snow days
3.    “Dressing up” = clean Carhartts
4.    Cabot cheese
5.    Mud season
6.    The Kingdom
7.    Our whole state has roughly the same number of people as Boston
8.    Maple syrup
9.    Bernie Sanders
10.  The Schulz Family

Do you still find time during your busy schedule to paint? What do you like to paint?
I haven’t painted in awhile, but when I do, I’m pretty stuck on Vermonty landscapes.

What else do you do in your spare time?
Bake cookies.

Do you now or did you before have any pets back home? Once you get out of school, what kind of animal would you like to get, if you do?
We’ve always had a horde of golden retrievers. I would get a puppy right now if my roommates would let me.

Let’s say you find $10,000 in a black bag on the street. A month later, the police say no one has claimed it and it is now all yours. What do you do with it?
Save some for the purchasing of food for aforementioned puppy, buy some classy toys (I’d like a new kayak), and perhaps go on a jaunt somewhere cool with my family.

What is the best place to vacation? Where is one place you’d like to take a vacation to but haven’t had the opportunity yet?
British Columbia is pretty cool. So is Austria. I’d like to go to Scandinavia.

When you are bored and in town, what are some fun places to go to? What are some fun places you’ve been to outside of the Northeast?
When I’ve got time to be bored in town, I usually leave town. The most unusual place I’ve ever been is probably Death Valley.

It may be cold outside, but are there any summer movies you’re starting to get excited about yet?
I’m so behind pop culture that I’m just starting to see movies that came out last summer.

What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“Ski hard, eat your vegetables, and get straight A’s.”

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Playing with my brothers in “Big Green,” my dad’s tractor-trailer truck. My big brother always hogged the controls, but my little brother was too small to reach much, so I at least got to spend a lot of time dominating the radio.