The feature story below, on alpine skiing junior captain Tess Wood, is part of a year-long commitment to highlight Harvard’s captains and other intriguing student-athletes. For more question-and-answer features click here and enjoy with us the high-caliber student-athletes whom we have come to enjoy.
What is your area
of concentration at Harvard?
Visual and environmental studies, with a focus in studio art; plus a secondary concentration in environmental science and public policy
How has it prepared for life when you graduate?
The wide variety in classes that I will have taken by the time I graduate, will leave me with a broader range of options and developed interests. And with our world’s growing concern about the state of our environment, how we function within it and how policy will direct our future, hopefully pairing VES and ESPP classes will pay off in getting me a career I enjoy. But, if all else fails, I will probably be the only ski bum with a Harvard degree.
How have your studies helped you athletically? How have athletics helped you academically?
It’s one of those crazy things: When I have a lot of commitments and tons to do, that’s when I am most productive. However if I have a week to concentrate on one thing, I will invariably watch seven movies and a whole season of “The Office,” paint pictures for my wall,and do all of my Christmas shopping. After all that, then I might get to the one thing on my “to do list”. Ski team and academia help balance my life, and the self-discipline from both, feed off of each other. Once you can juggle academics and athletics, it’s easy to fit everything else in.
You used to be a member of the Radcliffe crew, what made you switch over to alpine skiing?
It was actually a tough decision. I was recruited for rowing and spent my freshman year on the team, but somehow felt like it wasn’t the right fit for me. It took me the entire school year and half of the summer to realize that what really made me happy and what I was most passionate about in high school --and earlier-- was ski racing. My dad rowed at Harvard and had kind of always encouraged me to do the same, but when talking to him about the possibility of me leaving rowing, he told me something that really hit home. He said that his time at Harvard was defined by the great times he had through crew and that more important than me rowing, was that I instead find what makes my college experience the best it can be. That night I emailed ski coach Tim Mitchell, and I guess the rest is history...
What was the first children’s novel you read?
“Big Bug, Little Big”
What are some of the “must sees” of the Portland area?
VooDoo Donuts, literally a hole-in-the-wall place open only late night, offering (what else) donut creations, and they can even perform marriage ceremonies. And the Columbia River Gorge, that’s technically not in Portland, but it’s on my way to the mountain. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
When you go home to Portland, what are some of the first things you do?
Call up my old friends to see who can come ski with me and then I make cookies— being at school sans kitchen makes me miss baking. Well, that and the fact that cookie dough is my favorite food group.
What’s the biggest difference between the East Coast and West Coast?
Most visually noticeable: preppy versus trendy. Anyone from the West Coast will tell you that there’s a huge difference in overall vibe, but it’s hard to articulate.
As a skier, what are your thoughts on snowboarding?
It’s great to have so many people out enjoying the mountains— as long as they don’t get first tracks in my powder, I’m happy.
What is your favorite mountain to go skiing down?
I have to go with my home mountain, Mt. Hood. Great memories, great snow and my mom hooks me up with a free pass.
Tell us about your Thanksgiving. Where’d you go? How was the food? What was the best dish?
The ski team went to Stowe, Vt. and Anna Shultz’s mom cooked both the alpine and nordic teams a huge dinner. My personal favorite was the three homemade pecan pies and if you ask my teammates, I ate them all. Myself.
What is the best cereal ever created?
My grandmother’s homemade granola.
What has been you most memorable moment competing for Harvard?
Not sure if this counts as “competing” but after training during intercession last year, I came back to school with an impressively massive bruise on my hip... I think the size of a soccer ball and the color of concord grapes. It was memorable to everyone who saw it.
Are you involved in any other activities on campus?
Besides the bangin’ social scene? I read to preschoolers through Harvard Emerging Literacy Project, teach middle schoolers about saving the environment through EnviroEd., and with my roommate, Tobey Duble, I’m an avid spectator of other Harvard athletics.
You are stuck on a desert island forever. The only thing you have with you is a television and a DVD player that just happened to wash ashore with you. What five movies wash upon the beach with your television and DVD player?
Cruel Intentions, Hot Dog, Green Street Hooligans, Summer Storm and Twilight. Don’t judge until you’ve seen them all.
What is your fondest memory of Christmas?
A few times my family used Christmas as a travel day to drive to Montana and visit my grandparents. I came up with the “12 Hours of Christmas” where we opened a present every hour on the hour...delayed gratification is sometimes fun?
What is your favorite sporting event to watch at Harvard?
Anything that involves a “no tee OT” with the men’s lacrosse team.
When you grow up you want to be...
Which do you prefer, Oregon beaches or Massachusetts beaches?
Both are pretty rainy and grey, but my allegiance is to Oregon.
The Blazers or the Mariners?
I don’t support teams from Seattle.
PC or Mac?
Macbook Air— it’s on the top of my wish list.
Lima beans or brussels sprouts?
Considering I have a somewhat vague, but scary, childhood memory of lima beans I’m going to go with the latter.
If you could be known for one thing in the world, what would it be?
Besides my stunning good looks? Definitely for some positive contribution to the world— or at least to one person.
What would be more traumatic, losing your cell phone for a week or not being able to use the Internet?
Probably my phone; I don’t know anyone’s number by heart. Not even my mom’s.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a set of skis?
I don’t know if this counts as crazy, but I did a skier cross race up in Attitash last year with teammate Margie Thorp. It was super fun and we got places 1-and-2, due in small part to her excellent coaching and my “mad skillz.”
When it comes to
the "Civil War" game, where do your allegiances lie? Oregon or
The Beavers- my friends back home will have nothing to do with me if I say otherwise. It was a bummer they couldn't get a win this year and make it to the Rose Bowl.