Parker Biele rocketed down the side of the mountain as her skis skidded across a thick layer of ice. She was so close to breaking the top 10 at the University of Vermont Carnival—the mark she needs to hit twice to earn a trip to the NCAA championship—and she knew it. And then, the unthinkable happened: Her ski popped off, and she didn’t even place.
Though she has yet to crack the top 10 in her career, Biele’s trajectory has been moving steadily up the rankings, particularly this season. Along with a program record for the highest Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) finish—14th at the Harvard Carnival—came Athlete of the Week honors from Boston College Athletics and a heightened sense of accomplishment for the Eagles’ top racer. And with a few top-15 finishes under her belt already, Biele is well on her way to becoming the first-ever BC skier to land a spot in the collegiate national championship.
“My goal has always been to be the first girl to make it to NCAAs from BC,” she said. “It’s kind of been, [from] when I came in, something I’ve always wanted to do, and so I’ve always given myself the opportunity to be in the best shape I can possibly be in and ski as well as I can, so I can try and reach this goal.”
The junior co-captain got to work right away this season and broke a program record after placing 14th in the giant slalom at the Harvard Carnival in mid-January.
Even so, Biele only has six chances to secure a spot in the national championship, and each race, as she described, is “crucial.” This weekend, the Eagles head northward to compete on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine for the Colby Carnival, and it’s yet another opportunity for Biele to reset her own record.
“This weekend is on a hill that I really like, and I’m really gonna try and put down that top-10 run that I need for the qualifications,” she said.
Biele’s prowess on the mountains arose despite her unconventional start to the sport.
“I didn’t start as early as a lot of people do,” she said. “I didn’t really know racing existed, and so I started when I was 10. And all of a sudden, it was like you get thrown way into it. … I was like ‘Oh, I need to do this, to be the best.’”
From that moment when she was 10, Biele knew she wanted to pursue the sport she loved for the long haul.
“After that, I was hooked,” she said.
She began to seek out the best ski academy to develop her talent, and she eventually landed at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. She began attending camps there at age 12 before heading back for high school.
Her high school career was unconventional—Burke Mountain Academy only has around 60 students in total. But Biele said being constantly pushed in the classroom and in training led her to form lasting relationships with her teachers and create an educational foundation that became essential at BC.
“This little tiny school puts together this passion for skiing and trying to reach that role of excellence, but also a big focus on education as well,” she said. “The biggest lesson I learned was the ability to communicate and ask for help.”
With such a demanding travel schedule, often leaving BC for weeks at a time, Biele said it’s essential for her to form relationships with her professors in order to keep up her academic standing. The same was true even in high school. Because of her constant travel, she said it takes heightened time management skills for her to stay on top of her work. She credits her unconventional high school experience with helping her learn to be successful at BC. But her professors know what to expect when she travels.
“When I’m not here, they know it’s because I’m off chasing my dream.”
Featured Image Courtesy of BC Athletics