by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
While hockey and basketball players can keeping playing their sport in the summer, Nordic Ski athletes must improvise if they want to keep honing their skills and muscles under the hot sun.
Breck Hickman, three-time all-conference skier and two-time state qualifier, is one skier zealous enough to put in the summer workouts, which have paid off.
“Breck works hard at skiing,” coach Kirsten Anderson said. “He’s done summer training the last two years, and gone to state both years. He is really focused. He improved both years.”
The workouts involve roller skating — “It’s basically a modified roller blade, shaped like a ski,” said Hickman — and running, at Woodland Trails and Elm Creek. Running is not a stretch for Hickman because he’s also in cross country and track. He’ll finish with 12 letters.
Hickman, 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, has some gifts to work with, too.
“Breck is a natural athlete. He’s also tall! It helps to have longer levers, especially at the end,” said Anderson.
Hickman placed 12th in the conference, eighth in the section and 37th at state his senior year. As a junior, he took fifth in conference, 10th in the section and 49th at state. He had a good sophomore year too, placing 11th in conference and 22nd at the section.
Hickman was part of an outstanding team his junior year as they won the conference and earned the No. 4 ranking in the state, although they didn’t advance to Giants Ridge as a team because their section included state champ Eden Prairie.
Two leaders graduated, but the Elks came back with another solid team led by Hickman and Joey Martin, that placed fourth in the conference and third in the section.
“Last year was great, but we were pretty again this year, and I enjoyed my last year just as much,” said Hickman.
Hickman took up Nordic in eighth grade along with and his sister Reece, who’s a year younger, as they followed their older brother Alex into the sport.
“I had been skiing downhill all my life,” said Hickman. “I decided Nordic was a good alternative because I could ski every day, as opposed to about once a week with downhill.”
Hickman’s cross country highlight was placing 15th at Section 7AA his junior year to help the Elks emerge as a surprise champion at Princeton and advance to state, where they would finish 14th.
In conference meets, Hickman placed 44th, 32nd and 31st the last three years (top 30 make all-conference). He took 22nd in the section as a senior.
On the Nordic team, Hickman is a captain and helpful to newer skiers with technique.
“He has been such a great leader,” Anderson said, “and a wonderful example for the younger boys of what you are able to accomplish with hard work and dedication.”
A straight-A student who’s waiting to hear from Yale and Stanford, Hickman will major in biology in college with an ultimate goal of field research and lab work. He also plans to join a skiing and/or running club.
THE HICKMAN SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Jeff and Annette; brother Alex; sister Reece … Sports: cross country, Nordic Ski, track … Academics: 4.0 average … College plans: undecided where; biology
Favorite stuff — Class: AP Chemistry, Drawing II … TV show: “I don’t watch much.” … Reading: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Slaughterhouse Five” … Music: Black Keys, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, Neutral Milk Hotel … Teams: “I don’t watch. I’d rather participate.” … Food: taco’s, burgers, steak medium rare … Drink: coffee, tea, water … Hobbies: drawing, guitar … Wants to visit: “Australia, while the Barrier Reef is still there.”