Lily Hubanks ’25 dominated the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championship on March 9. Hubanks competed in all four events placing first in both the 15km classic and the freestyle team sprint. She also placed third in the 7.5km freestyle and seventh in the classic sprint. Hubanks has been a strong member of the Nordic team for the past two years and also recently competed in the “Birkie,” a ski race that draws international competitors. Placing first in her age bracket, Hubanks is definitely making a name for herself in skiing. Hubanks answered questions about her past few races and the ski team at St. Olaf in an email interview with The Olaf Messenger.
How are you feeling after competing and doing so well at Nationals?
“I had a really great time this past week in Mammoth, California. Mammoth had the most snow I have ever seen (I think they’ve gotten over 250 inches this winter!) and it was such a beautiful place to explore. The usual schedule at USCSA Nationals includes a 7.5k, a sprint (which is about 1 or 1.2k), a 15k, and a team relay. I think we are really lucky to be supported by our coach, other teammates and parents who helped us get to and from the airport, and our teammate Noah Johnson who we were lucky to have as our wax tech. It takes a lot of teamwork to pull off such a big trip. I am really proud of our team’s skiing this past week as well as throughout the entire season and it’s been really amazing to see everyone’s hard work paying off. One aspect of USCSA races that I really appreciate is the supportive atmosphere. Everyone, no matter which team they are on, cheers for other skiers”.
How do you continue to grow as an athlete?
“I have been working really hard to improve from last season to this season and I am really happy with how the races went this week. There are always things after the race that I look back on and feel like I could’ve done better, but I try [to] only reflect a little after the race in order to get a sense of ways I can improve, and then just move on and focus on whatever is coming next. During the 15k skate, which was a mass start meaning all the skiers started at once, I tried to focus on pacing myself. One thing that was tricky about this race was the wind because a large portion of the course was exposed and so I was skiing into the wind alone and it took up a lot of energy. Throughout most long distance races I try to relax as much as possible and ski smoothly which I think helps me go faster. The views on the race course were absolutely incredible and one of my favorite parts of the skiing this week was just being in such a stunning place”.
How was the experience of racing in the Birkie for the first time?
“Three weeks ago I skied the Birkie. This year was my first year doing the classic Birkie which is a 55k race and it was an absolutely beautiful day to be skiing! Skiers ski from Cable, Wisconsin to Hayward, Wisconsin. Towards the end of the race skiers ski across Lake Hayward and through the downtown area, finishing on Main Street. One of my favorite parts of the race was meeting other skiers along the way as most people were really friendly and excited to be there just like me. The race was definitely challenging especially towards the end, and when I had about 15k left to go another skier gave me some much appreciated encouragement. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was something like you got this and you are going to finish, and it really helped me make it up those last hills and to the finish line”.
How is skiing at St. Olaf this year?
“Overall, I really enjoy the variety skiing has to offer. There are so many trail systems in Minnesota and Wisconsin which are fun to explore. My favorite part about skiing by far is the people. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive and amazing team, one where everyone makes an effort to check in on each other after races and just in general. I think we do a great job of balancing both fun and hard work.”