Einarsdottir set to make history as first PSU athlete to compete in Olympics

  • Plymouth State’s Freydis Einarsdottir will represent Iceland at the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For more on the Olympics, see C4. Photo Courtesy of FlyingPointRoad.com

Monitor staff
Thursday, February 08, 2018

When Freydis Einarsdottir made the move from Gardabaer, Iceland, to Plymouth State University three years ago, there was always a singular goal in mind.

The 23-year-old had always wanted to represent her country in the Winter Olympics, which made the 2014 Games in Sochi so disappointing, and the news that Einarsdottir would be skiing for the Icelandic national team at this year’s Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, so sweet.

“It’s been a goal of mine for a very long time and after being close to qualifying four years ago, I was even more motivated and determined that I wanted to go to these Games,” said Einarsdottir, the first athlete from Plymouth State ever set to compete in the Olympics. “There were three girls from Iceland that qualified, but only one would get to go. So when I finally found out. I was really happy and kind of relieved to know that it was finally confirmed that I was going.”

Einarsdottir will be one of five Icelanders competing in Pyeongchang.

Four years ago she was on the bubble before being left off, now Einarsdottir will be the only female on the Alpine team where she’ll compete in the Women’s Giant Slalom on Monday and the Women’s Slalom on Wednesday.

“I am so happy that Freydis will be able to experience something that very few people on this earth get to experience,” Plymouth State Director of Athletics Kim Bownes said. “She has worked so hard to get to this level and truly deserves to represent her home country of Iceland in Pyeongchang. I know that everyone here in the PSU athletic department will be rooting for her.”

Einarsdottir has already built a strong resume in her short time with the Panthers.

During her freshman campaign in 2016, Einarsdottir finished 12th in the slalom at the NCAA Alpine Championships – the highest finish for a skier in school history – before qualifying again the following year, finishing 15th in the slalom. She was named to the Eastern Intercollegiate All-East Team last winter and has been recognized as the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year in each of the past two years by PSU.

On top of all that, Einarsdottir has plenty of experience at the FIS World Alpine Ski Championships. She competed in Schladming, Austria, in 2013, raced in Beaver Creek, Colo., in 2015 and participated in last year’s FIS World Championship in St. Mortitz, Switzerland.

“It’s helped me a lot, just coming to Plymouth State and being able to race at the NCAA circuits. There’s just so many good girls there, multiple girls who have been racing World Cups for the U.S. and Canada,” Einarsdottir said. “It’s really motivated me to train hard and just compare myself to those other girls has really helped me improve.”

“Freydis is a great competitor and an outstanding student-athlete who we are fortunate to call a Panther,” Plymouth State Alpine coach Geoff Ouellette said.

Einarsdottir, like many serious competitive skiers from Iceland, left her home country for college in the United States in search of better conditions to train. She said Iceland’s volatile winters make life difficult for Alpine skiers.

“I found out about Plymouth through a friend that I had from Denmark and after contacting the school and the coach, I just realized that it was centrally located in a lot of good ski areas,” Einarsdottir said. “I knew the conditions would be better and more constant over the season than at home where we have unpredictable weather and rough conditions a lot of the time.”

There were times growing up when Einarsdottir would drive hours just to find decent conditions to train in Iceland, a far cry from the short trek she makes to Waterville Valley most days now.

“It’s so convenient for us to train there,” she said. “We can just drive there in the morning, take 20 minutes and ski. You can get so many runs in, drive back and then go to school in the afternoon. It couldn’t be easier.”

While it will be Einarsdottir’s first time competing on a global stage, there is a level of comfort with Icelandic national team coach Egill Jonsson. The two have trained together for several years and are hoping to make this year in Pyeongchang a special one.

“I’m very much just going to take it as it goes,” Einarsdottir said. “I want to be able to perform and ski just as well as I’ve been doing in training. I know what I’m capable of and I just want to be able to perform at that level when I race there and we’ll see how far that brings me.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)