YARMOUTH, Maine — In Maine, skiing is a popular pastime, and there are some significant differences between downhill and nordic.
"Skiing uphill, like, if you're alpine skiing, we go up what you go down. So it's very taxing on the body," Yarmouth native Sophia Laukli said.
The 21-year-old is at her first Olympic Games in Beijing, but she has the longest to wait for her first and only event. The Nordic skier races on the last day of competition.
Laukli's parents first put her on skis when she was just a toddler, but where she really fell in love with Nordic skiing was Yarmouth High School.
The pandemic, though, is not an ideal first Olympic run. Regardless, Laukli said she's excited to have made it.
She will be competing in her first Olympic Games in the Nordic skiing 30K skate. She skied at Yarmouth High School, and anywhere there was snow.
"Whenever we had a snow day, I would always go out with my friends, and we would, like, ski to the grocery store or just ski on the roads," Laukli said.
She didn't always have Olympic hopes and dreams. She just skied for the love of it.
"Not until about a year ago was it really like one of my big goals to make it this year," she said.
She did just that. Laukli made it to the 2022 Winter Olympics. But with the pandemic, there's more stress than a typical year.
The Team USA Nordic Skiing team didn't participate in opening ceremonies and is laying low because of COVID concerns. And, of course, family and friends can't travel to Bejing.
"I know my dad especially is really bummed to not be able to come but ... another reason to go again in four years," Laukli said.
She said this time around, her goal is to test negative and to get to the starting line, to take it all in.
"I think I'm mostly just really excited to race. I'll always be nervous, but I'm not necessarily stressed about the racing. I think the stress comes mostly from, I want to make it there so badly, so I just really don't want to get COVID," she said.
Laukli will compete in the 30K skate on Feb. 20.