Five questions for Nordic skier Amy Bianco

Amy Bianco ’18 (Ely, Minn./Ely Memorial HS), Nordic skiing

1. We have had a number of Nordic skiers from Minnesota over the years. What was the appeal of Colby to you?
Making the decision to ski at Colby was the best decision I have made thus far. A large part of that decision can be attributed to Coach Tracey Cote and Colby as a school and the way it presents its values and sense of community. As a junior in high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue the sport at a collegiate level. I love Minnesota, but I wanted to explore a new part of the country and race against different skiers. The eastern ski circuit is also highly competitive and known to produce high-caliber racers, so I wanted to challenge myself by racing and training with the best people.  With this in mind, I narrowed my college search to schools in New England and came across Colby. After stepping onto Colby’s breathtaking campus and meeting with Coach Cote, I knew that Colby was going to be my top choice. Tracey runs a fantastic and successful program, but more importantly she is incredibly dedicated to each and every one of her athletes at an individual level.   I couldn’t be happier with my decision and every year I become more and more grateful that I chose Colby. It has helped me to achieve my academic and athletic potential and has allowed me to become part of an incredible community. 
 

2. You have been a captain the past three years and that is rare. What is your leadership style?

I have had the honor to co-captain with some incredible individuals over the past three years, all of whom I have learned a great deal from. Each and every year I have learned from my coaches, fellow captains, and teammates, grown as a leader, and become more confident in my leadership skills. As a captain, your awareness extends far beyond yourself and therefore I always try to be perceptive of my teammates’ needs and never assume that I have all the answers. I try to utilize my teammates’ strengths to fit the needs of our team. I have also learned that it is important to be unified with your co-leaders. My co-captains and I strive to work together to make decisions we think are best for the team and our goals. We do this all while working closely with our coaches to make sure that we are helping them to create the most dedicated, unified, fast, and fun team possible.
 

3. The photo of you and fellow senior Olivia Amber hugging on the ground last year at the NCAA Division I Skiing Championships was terrific. With you coming in together at Colby, what has been your relationship as you head into your fourth season together?

I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to chase Olivia Amber around the trails the past few years and I know for certain I would not be the skier I am today if it wasn’t for her. She and I grew up skiing against each other on the Midwest circuit and were teammates on the Junior National Team, however it wasn’t until Colby that we really got to know each other. Over the past four years we have become incredibly close as friends and teammates and are each other’s strongest support and greatest cheerleaders. She also happens to be my roommate. I can truly say that it makes it feel as though her successes are my successes and vice versa. It’s extra special when we both have breakthrough days like at the 2016 NCAA championships shown in that photo.

 

 

4. You had to battle through injury problems your sophomore season with a rare wrist problem. What did the injury entail and what did you learn about yourself during that trying time?

In August before my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with a vascular necrosis in a small bone in my wrist. Fancy medical terms aside, the small bone had not been receiving enough blood flow and was beginning to dissolve. I was told that I needed to receive immediate surgery if I was going to keep any mobility in my wrist. After coming off a successful first-year season and having put in so many hours of training that summer, I was devastated to hear this news. I underwent the surgery and had excellent surgeons, but they told me that I needed to be prepared for a long recovery and potentially a delayed season. This was incredibly hard to hear. I was so determined prove my doctors wrong and bounce back as if nothing had happened so I jumped into training far too soon and at too high of an intensity. This ended up severely tiring out my body to the point where I never really recovered during race season. I had a series of disappointing races and I was not finishing nearly as close to where I had been first year, however I stayed hopeful and kept telling myself that the next race was going to be my breakthrough race. That breakthrough race never occurred and, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I realized who I was without the success of skiing. My results had always felt like such a large part of my identity and for the first time in my racing career I was not considered one of the “top athletes” in the field. This experience was humbling and taught me so much about resilience, hope, and defeat. It gave me a new perspective and appreciation for the sport and an incredible drive to make a comeback the next year. 
 

5. As a government major, what's next for you after graduation, and will you still be skiing on some level?

I am hoping to pursue a career in public policy, more specifically healthcare policy. I love skiing, but I am excited to pursue my other interests as well. I will be stepping away from the competitive circuit for a while but will always be seeking opportunities to recreationally ski or perhaps jump into one or two ski marathons or citizen’s races for fun. Skiing is a lifelong sport and the lessons I have learned and the people I have met have shaped my life in so many ways.
 
Men's relay team fourth
February 10, 2017 Men's relay team fourth