March 31, 2011By Mal Boright Observer correspondent
Looking back, Champlain Valley Union Nordic ski coach Sarah Strack would consider last summer’s telephone call from Norway one that she loved getting.
The caller was the father of Hans Fredrik Fahle, who was inquiring about CVU’s ski program.
He apparently liked what he heard and, as a result, this past winter’s individual Vermont champion in Nordic freestyle and classic competition was Fahle, who entered CVU last fall for his senior year as an exchange student.
But Fahle was not the only skier from the other side of the pond known as the Atlantic to find his way to the hills of Hinesburg.
Kilian Muller from Switzerland was already in school when Strack learned about his presence in a different way.
“Kilian was running cross country and skiers on the running team told me about him,” she said.
In the winter, Muller and Fahle became members of the boys’ Nordic team that swept to CVU’s first Division I crown in six years.
Fahle posted individual wins in the classic and freestyle runs. Muller took fifth place in both events.
The two joined mates Sam Epstein and Jake Marston in a winning relay team that won both events. And according to Strack, the four are great friends.
“Working together as a team is a unique experience when you compete in an individual sport that is then scored as a team,” Strack said.
She said that while Fahle and Muller were “key skiers” in victories at the state meets, “having them on the team meant so much more than just results. Both have formed friendships on the team.”
How was it like getting assimilated into the CVU community for the two from overseas?
Both said that participating in fall sports, with practices before school opened in late August, made things much easier.
Muller called the cross country team “great,” and friendships were quickly formed.
“Sports were a big part,” said Fahle, who played on the boys soccer team. “I quickly made a lot of friends.”
That takes care of their classmates. What about the teachers?
“The teachers are much nicer here,” said Muller. “They become your friends and take an interest in your work. They are not total authority.”
Fahle generally agreed, pointing out that he is considering engineering for his future studies. Muller is leaning toward chemistry.
In Norway, according to Fahle, sports are not associated with the school systems. Youth athletics are independent of the schools and run as club programs, where Fahle was successful in skiing. He added that the sport is taken more seriously in Europe.
He said he liked the system here, where sports are part of school.
As for the teenage diet (that mysterious part of the culture), Fahle said there is not much of a difference in Norway since they have “McDonalds and all of that.”
Muller said meals in Swiss schools are more expensive but include “bigger choices and more fresh items.”
Fahle and Muller speak flawless English, having learned it since first entering elementary school.
Fahle said, in Norway, English and Norwegian are taught though the school years and students have a choice of a third language.
The pair has certainly left their imprints, not to mentions ski prints on the state Nordic scene.