Cross-country skiing: Amherst’s Micah Bruner, Northampton’s David Shycon making waves at Stratton Mountain School

  • Amherst’s Micah Bruner has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. He recently competed in the junior national championships and was named to the New England Elite Development Team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/GEORGE FORBES

  • Amherst’s Micah Bruner has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. He recently competed in the junior national championships and was named to the New England Elite Development Team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/GEORGE FORBES

  • Amherst’s Micah Bruner has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. He recently competed in the junior national championships and was named to the New England Elite Development Team. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / GEORGE FORBES

  • Northampton’s David Shycon has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/GEORGE FORBES

  • Northampton’s David Shycon has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/GEORGE FORBES

  • Northampton’s David Shycon has developed into one of the top junior nordic skiers in the country training at the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/GEORGE FORBES

Staff Writer
Published: 6/21/2022 3:06:02 PM

Micah Bruner’s life revolves around cross-country skiing.

The (up until recently) Amherst resident attends the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he and his teammates, which includes Northampton’s David Shycon, train all year long with a particular focus during the winter months.

“I definitely love it. At this point it’s part of my lifestyle and a huge part of my life,” Bruner said. “I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

His father Steve Bruner skied in high school in Minnesota, and taught Micah the sport when they lived in Montana. Steve Bruner manages the Stratton Nordic Center in Vermont.

“During races it’s an all-out maximum effort, painful taxing experience,” Micah Bruner said. “But it’s awesome and you feel like you’re flying.”

Though Bruner originally attended Amherst Regional Middle School, the family moved to Stratton before he entered eighth grade last year. His mother, Amherst College professor Leah C. Schmalzbauer, was on sabbatical, so it seemed like the right time to try it. While some of his classmates stay in the dorms, Bruner remains a day student. His younger sister Zola will attend SMS next year. The family still owns a condo in Amherst while Schmalzbauer commutes a few days a week.

“It’s incredible,” Bruner said. “I’m so lucky.”

Shycon chose to leave his family and friends in Northampton to pursue the sport in a more serious way. He started fresh out of kindergarten with the Berkshire Trails program out of the Notchview Reservation in Windsor. Shycon competed in the Bill Koch League festival and enjoyed it, so he signed up for more races the next year.

“I think I had multiple races where I came in dead last. One practice a week wasn’t enough to compete with those Vermont kids and New Hampshire and Maine kids,” Shycon said. “I remember my first race of that year I came in dead last and bawled my eyes out to my mom for five minutes, ten minutes probably. I just wanted to get better. It’s just my competitive nature.”

He joined a team out of Weston in sixth grade but always had an eye on Stratton. Shycon attended a summer camp there in fifth grade and begged his parents to attend the school in high school. He went to Northampton High School for his freshman year and found friendship and community on the cross country running team. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, his father Robert Shycon told him he wouldn’t get the same value going to school in Northampton, so he could try out SMS.

“It made my decision ten times harder than it would have years before that,” David Shycon said.

He had to leave family and newfound friends. Texting then-Northampton coach Dave Reinhardt that he wasn’t coming back to run the next year was the hardest part. Now he’s spent two years there and recently completed his junior year. The focused skiing and schoolwork schedule gets to him sometimes.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve enjoyed having it so regimented, but it’s definitely for the best,” Shycon said. “A lot of times, especially after last season, I was a bit burnt out. I was thinking, ‘wow this is so focused. Can I have a normal life for a little bit?’ That’s not why I’m there.”

That’s not to say the school is all work and no play. It also offers other sports like soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring, among others, that both Bruner and Shycon partake in. Shycon even got into a few lacrosse games when they didn’t have enough players.

“It takes some of the tunnel vision off,” Shycon said.

The dedication has paid off for both, as they competed at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Junior National Cross-Country Ski Championships in Minnesota in March. Bruner finished third in the Boys U16 freestyle discipline and was named to the New England Elite Development Team. He – admittedly ambitiously – wants to attend the senior nationals this season and qualify for the U18 team’s trip to Europe. Bruner also aims to repeat on the podium at junior nationals.

Shycon was 27th in the U18 classic race and 35th in the U18 freestyle competition. Next year he’s set his sights on All-American status with a top-10 finish. His college plans are also forming. Shycon is considering Vermont, New Hampshire and Montana State to continue his skiing career.

“I want to work as hard as possible to be back here again next year and even do better so more people notice that I’m there,” Shycon said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy