Sports

Natalie Pearl ’17 leads Bruno with back-to-back finishes at Nationals

In last race of her career, Pearl notches Bears’ top finish in Slalom, earns ninth in Giant Slalom

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 16, 2017

The women’s ski team ended its season Saturday at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships, finishing third as a team in the Giant Slalom and taking third place overall in the competition. Leading Brown was veteran racer Natalie Pearl ’17, who took home a ninth place finish in the Giant Slalom with a time of 2:18.51, good for first-team All-American honors in the event.

Pearl also added the Bears’ top finish in the Slalom, coming in fifth place with a time of 2:12.99. Pearl was also recognized as a first-team All-American for Slalom. For her leadership on the slopes and performance at nationals, Pearl has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: What was it like leading up to your final collegiate race?

Pearl: I was very excited to be going to Nationals and to see what the team could do, but at the same time it was sad knowing it was going to be my last competitive ski race. The weather this winter has been challenging, so getting any training we could was key.

Are you happy with your finish?

I am thrilled to garner first-team All-American honors and am very happy with my finish. I am so glad that I was able to contribute to the team’s accomplishments. I had a few runs that I am very proud of and a few that I feel I could have pushed harder in, but all in all it was solid skiing and I had two strong finishes for the team.

Can you reflect a little bit on the overall season?

This year has been challenging with the transition of coaches. We ran all of our own offseason fitness practices and only hired a coach weeks before our season began. Once we had (Head Coach Alex Norden), things felt much more natural. Additionally, the weather did not provide excellent snow for ski racing this season. That said, we did our best to make every run and training opportunity count, which overall allowed the team to be grateful of every opportunity. By the end of the season, it is safe to say we felt we could ski any snow conditions.

More generally, how has your career on the ski team been at Brown?

My career on the Brown ski team has been an amazing journey. I consider each teammate that I have had a close friend.

How much of ski racing is mental, and how much is physical?

I won’t say that ski racing doesn’t require a lot of strength, but it is definitely a mental sport. We have one minute to show what we have spent hours upon hours of training on. Being in the zone, and focus are key to a successful race. As far as strength, during our offseason we are unable to ski, therefore we spend our time lifting and exercising so that we are in optimal condition for when our season hits.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time skiing on the Brown team?

Nationals my sophomore year was a week I will never forget. It was probably my best performing season, and that nationals had some of the biggest accomplishments and heartbreak of my skiing career. It takes two runs to finish a race, and things can change in the blink of an eye.

Taking a step back, what got you into skiing?

I love it.  It is part of the lifestyle where I grew up … I started skiing when I was two, and it was a natural transition into ski racing. It has been my passion for as long as I can remember.

What do you love about the sport?

I love being outside with the sun shining and the snow sparkling.

You have a really large graduating class — what does this mean for the remaining members of the team next year?

Next year will be hard after graduating four seniors, but that said, our coach has been extremely active in preparing the team for the transition and seeking qualified applicants to join the team next year.

Do you have any plans to ski competitively after college?

I am done with competitive racing, but you can be sure to find me on the slopes every chance I get.