Andrew Siegel celebrates after winning the 15-kilometer Nordic classic race at the 2018 USCSA Nationals. (Submitted photo)

Growing up skiing the snowy trails around Bethel, Andrew Siegel learned to never take the sport too seriously.

Despite finding success skiing competitively, Siegel hasn’t strayed from that mindset, and that won’t change in March when he finds himself on the other side of the globe racing against some of the best amateur skiers in the world.

Siegel, a 20-year-old Bethel native and Gould Academy graduate, has been selected to compete in the 29th FISU Winter Universiade games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. It will be a far cry from his days with the Bethel Outing Club ski program.

“This really came out of nowhere,” Siegel said. “I didn’t know I was in contention for a spot on the team, so it was a total surprise and I was thrilled.

“I was selected to compete at the Universiade based on my results from the 2018 USCSA (United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association) National Championships. I won the 15-kilometer classic race at nationals.”

Ever since he was young, Siegel has been following in the footsteps of his father, Kirk, who is a former ski coach and competitor. The younger Siegel said the Bethel Outing Club centered “everything around skiing for the pure enjoyment of skiing, and not taking oneself too seriously, and I think that’s what really instilled a love of the sport in me.”

That love grew when Siegel began attending Gould Academy, and trickled over into the competitive side of the sport. Success followed by the time he graduated, and that led Siegel to do a post-graduate year in Sun Valley, Idaho, training and competing as part of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Siegel made it back most of the way to Maine, but he elected to further his academics at the University of Vermont, where he has furthered his skiing career as well. It was for the UVM Nordic Ski Club — which differs from the NCAA-sanctioned team — that Siegel competed at the USCSA nationals.

Now his sights are set on Russia. His summer training has consisted “mainly of running, rollerskiing and mountain biking.” Yet Siegel said the biggest part of his preparation leading up to the games in a little more than six months is fundraising his way there. He’s hoping a gofundme will help.

Siegel said he still doesn’t know exactly which events he will be competing in, but he knows the ones that are possibilities.

He’s going to Russia with no expectations.

“My biggest goal is to meet as many athletes from around the world as possible,” Siegel said. “As far as skiing goals are concerned, I hope to be skiing smooth and fast. I’m going to be perfectly content just rubbing shoulders with some of the fastest university skiers in the world.”

Siegel’s gofundme endeavor can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/to-russia-for-the-universiade.

Andrew Siegel competes in the 15-kilometer Nordic classic race at the 2018 USCSA Nationals. (Submitted photo)

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