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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Winter Traditions at Carleton

Some define a Minnesota winter by its short days and long nights, by its sub-freezing temperatures and by a blanket of snow on the ground. Some look forward to the warm weather months while the Lyman Lakes freeze over. Luckily, Carls don’t subscribe to such nonsense. When the Bald Spot transforms into two ice rinks and Bell Field’s main attraction becomes its hill, Carleton students redefine the Minnesota winter as the season most apt for broomball, ice skating, hockey, Nordic skiing, the Mid-Winter Ball (sometimes) and sledding—as they have for generations. Carleton history is fraught with winter traditions which are carried on today by quirky, winter-fun-loving Carls. “I love fun!” Kat Ahlgren ’23 said. “Why should winter stop me from having it?” 

Broomball entered Carleton’s winter tradition repertoire around 1977, when an issue of the Carletonian first referenced Carleton’s Winterfest, saying, “Winterfest will have a broomball tournament with co-op sponsored prizes going to the top teams.” For those unfamiliar with broomball, it is a game similar to hockey (it’s played on the ice and the goal is to score) with some fundamental differences. Broomball is played on shoes instead of skates, uses a ball instead of a puck and a broomball stick instead of a hockey stick. Since 1977, broomball’s popularity has broadened among the student body. Every winter, students are welcome to form an intramural broomball team, and they compete weekly against other intramural teams. Despite being played in sometimes sub-zero temperatures, players get warm on the ice extremely quickly. Intramural sports coordinator Sophia Quast ‘23 said this on the matter: “Broomball is a pretty grueling game—I coordinate intramural basketball too, and they seem to sweat a lot less.” This year, there are 14 broomball teams competing. Emma Freedman ’23, from the Butchers team, has cultivated her passion for broomball this year. “It is such a fantastic tradition! It really brings the community together!” Ahlgren, also of the Butchers team, expanded, “Just bouncing off Emma, I love that broomball gives me a chance to get outside and engage in some healthy competition with my peers!” Since 1977, Carleton students have enjoyed taking to the ice with rubber-soled shoes and stick in hand, but this is not the only unique and exciting way Carls get outside in the dead of winter. 

Surprisingly, the ice rink is sometimes used for skating and hockey in addition to broomball. Carleton hosts women’s and men’s club hockey teams, and students are always welcome to skate around the ice whenever it feels right. Scout Riley ’23 takes advantage of the opportunity to figure skate often. Not only is she in the figure skating PE class offered by Carleton in the winter, but she also skates for fun with her friends all the time. “Skating around on the ice for a study break really takes the cake for me!” Riley said. “I like to take the skills I learned in class and show my friends up when we all go skating together. It’s a nice break from studying, too,” Riley said. Students have utilized the ice rink as a fun winter activity for as long as the ice rinks have been present at Carleton, since the mid-1900s. But skating and hockey were traditions before that, too. Before the Bald Spot hosted ice rinks, students took to skating on the Lyman Lakes. Take a stroll around the Bald Spot today, and you will see that the rest was history.

During the cold months, the Arb turns into a winter wonderland, and there is no better way to explore this wonderland than on cross-country skis. Nordic captain David Ahrens ’22 commented on the popular Carleton winter pastime: “Nordic is a popular winter tradition at Carleton for a reason. Who doesn’t love exploring the Arb when it’s covered in fluffy white snow, and gliding past townies and giving them a friendly wave? It’s so fun and is a great way to be active and adventurous, even if your boogers might freeze.” Nordic skiing has been an organized sport since 1939. At first, the Nordic and Alpine skiing clubs were combined, but in the 1970s, they separated. During its time at Carleton, Nordic skiing has bounced between varsity and club status. The club has had points where it was extremely competitive, producing Olympic prospects and nationally ranked skiers. In the 2001-2002 school year, the Nordic ski team went from varsity to club and hasn’t changed since. The sport survived as a club, and it continues to give both new and experienced skiiers the chance to explore the Arb differently and compete with other schools in the Midwest.

Another Carleton winter tradition is sledding down Bell Hill behind Evans on trays from the dining hall, or traying. Photo evidence from the Carleton archives suggests that students began traying before the 1970s, but not much else is known about the emergence of the tradition. Today, traying is still a well-loved tradition that Carls especially love to take to after a fresh snow. “Sledding on trays is my favorite Carleton tradition. You can always expect to see loads of other people at Bell Hill and have a great time,” Fiona Gillen ’23 said. She continued to sum up the popular sentiment of Carls toward the winter and its associated activities: “I dream about Minnesota winters in the summertime.” 


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