Note: This is the first profile of an ongoing series on junior and collegiate racers in the U.S. and beyond. The nordic sports are certainly not the largest, but there are still thousands of great stories that most of us are not familiar with. We will be picking athletes out of this pack to feature – nominations for outstanding or interesting nordic skiers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking for unique stories, not necessarily the fastest skiers. Nominations should include a brief explanation of why we should profile the athlete.
Corinne Prevot’s first steps into nordic skiing were a little painful.
A former alpine skier at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, Prevot delved into cross-country skiing as a high school sophomore, making it out to West Yellowstone for an elite training camp and returning home intimidated.
Not only was it tough to learn how to nordic ski there, she said, but the clothing was just, well, not up to par.
“People may not admit it, but (with) skiing, at least in high school … you had to look cool doing it,” said Prevot, now a 20-year-old Middlebury junior on the college’s Division I nordic team.
“Everybody (in cross-country skiing) was wearing knit hats,” she said in a phone conversation from Park City, Utah. “I was like, ‘I can’t let you do that.’ ”
After Yellowstone, Prevot spent a rainy weekend with her mother, picking out bright fabric and experimenting with the sewing machine. They ended up with functional yet trendy headwear, and Prevot decided to make more for her teammates at Burke.
That season, a skier from Stratton asked her about buying a hat.
“People that I didn’t know wanted them,” Prevot said. “Teams wanted them and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is really cool.’ ”
Her gut reaction was to give out her lycra and fleece creations for free, but the demand outweighed her generosity. She began bringing order forms to ski meets and presenting her hats, with ever-changing prints and the brand name Skida (which mean “to ski” in Swedish), to Vermont retailers.
Almost four years later, Prevot’s sales hit $100,000 with some 5,000 products purchased in the last 12 months. In June, Forbes named her one of nine All-Star Student Entrepreneurs and invited her to a July seminar in Austin, Texas. There, she met with Dell representatives, and in early August, she was featured on the business journal’s website.
“I was shocked at first,” Prevot said. “I guess a girl being a skier from Vermont really adds diversity to a group of entrepreneurs from Forbes.”
Among multi-millionaires, an iPhone whiz and a student who sells compost to Costco, Prevot had a business story of her own.
Originally from York, Pa., she initially made $8,000 off her hats, neck warmers and bandanas before graduating Burke in 2009. In her first semester at Middlebury, she took a student-run entrepreneur class and learned how to create a website and marketing plan.
With Skida in nearly 50 stores nationwide by January 2011, Prevot knew it had become more than a side business.
Her mother, Margie, playfully dubbed the “vice president of logistics,” helped by filling orders at the family’s cabin in East Burke, Vt. Prevot worked on the website from a makeshift office at school, and rushed to the post office between classes and ski practice.
“I did that for almost a month,” she said.
In the thick of her racing season, Prevot knew she needed help. To keep the product local, she reached out to the Vermont cottage industry for seamstresses, who replicated her three-seam hats and upheld the standards that made Skida popular.
Now a fast-rising businesswoman, Prevot said she hoped to sustain the company as a career. This fall, she planned to study social entrepreneurship in Kathmandu, Nepal, and counted on an Internet connection to run her business abroad.
She updated the website in preparation and said she could always rely on her family. Her brother Mitch, also a skier who helped her sell at events, was entering his freshman year at Williams College. Her dad worked out of Chicago, but regularly visited her mom and youngest brother, Nick, in Vermont.
When she returns in January, Prevot said she will take a semester off ski racing. After two strong seasons at Middlebury, in which she won the 5 k freestyle at 2010 Junior Olympics and made the NCAA team as a sophomore, she said the decision wasn’t easy, but her coach and teammates understood.
“I’m going to be gone all fall; I’m not going to have the proper training,” she said. “It seemed like a good time to take a little breather with what’s going on with Skida and going abroad.”
She hoped to extend her Skida Plus One initiative, which donates hats to chemotherapy patients, by reaching out to hospitals and cancer programs. In the meantime, Prevot said she will continue to ski and support her team.
“My goals are to keep (skiing) fun,” said Prevot, who spent much of her summer out West mountain biking with her boyfriend, professional cyclist Josh Berry.
For her, the hours spent on Skida — toying with HTML code, dealing with customer service and picking out fabric — are also fun.
“The work that I put into it is all out of pleasure,” she said. “It’s not a task. … I had a guy email me about getting a hat into Scandinavia. There’s a lot of potential.”
Alex Kochon (email@example.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.