A trip home did more for Kelly Steeves than just recharge her batteries.
With relatively balmy temperatures hampering East Coast ski resorts, the Harvard University sophomore extended her stay a few days to get in some extra training in strong conditions before heading back to Boston.
"It's so nice, especially considering the lack of snow on the East Coast, I haven't been able to train much out there. I've just been training with the club out here a bit and just skiing with my family and enjoying all the snow," she said. "We haven't been able to get on snow out in Boston. We did a training camp in Colorado over American Thanksgiving so I had some good training then, but nothing really since then until I got back home.
"I was supposed to go back out to Boston (Jan. 3) but I changed my ticket so now I'm heading back out on the 7th so I can get a few more days out here training... It's softer, but honestly, I just want the mileage right now."
Steeves explained that in a normal year, she would have trained on weekends and used some free time before exams to get in some laps.
"Unfortunately, there were no mountains open that we could go to," she said. "It's improving. They can make snow now and it looks like we can get the races off. We were a little bit worried."
The five-event schedule will indeed start as planned on Jan. 15 with the Bates Carnival at Black Mountain in Sunday River, Maine. Steeves will look to build on her performance at the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) championships, where she posted a season-high 21st in the giant slalom at the final event of her season.
She'll look for the regional championships to be the penultimate event of the season as she hopes to earn a slot at the NCAA Championships in Steamboast Springs, Colo. in March.
In advance of five events in six weeks leading up to regionals, Steeves is focusing on her slalom approach in particular, tweaking her rhythms and working to minimize rotations at the bottom of her turns, among other adjustments.
"I'm just hoping to improve my slalom a bit and keep on where I'm going with (giant slalom). I'm quite happy with where I finished off last year. I'd like to keep improving, keep getting better," she said.
With members of the Crimson coming from all over the continent, and even a couple from Europe, Steeves is eager to get back to the slopes with her teammates in tow.
"I'm excited. It's a really fun team this year. There's one more girl and two more guys on the team and no one graduated. It's a great group of people. We all support each other a lot and it's a great team atmosphere," she said.
And, of course, there's a heavy emphasis on the academic aspect of being a student athlete at Harvard. As an engineering student, Steeves has little wiggle room and explains that trying to excel in both nearly requires a Harvard valedictorian to figure out how to fit everything in.
"It was a challenging semester, getting a lot of prerequisites out of the way," she said. "I have to take more (required) courses than everyone else, so it's a lot and it's a bit difficult figuring out my scheduling for next semester in terms of when I'm able to train and when I'm able to take my classes. It's complicated, but it's going well and I still really enjoy it. It's lots of work, though.
"Looking forward to next semester, I'm trying to fit in all my classes. Luckily, we'll hopefully be able to do some afternoon training, which will make things a little bit easier scheduling-wise. I think it'll work out."