Nancy Ingersoll Fiddler ’78
Bates’ first female Olympian has helped establish athletic programs at Bates and beyond
Nancy Ingersoll Fiddler graduated from Weston High School in Weston, Mass., in 1974, and came to Bates as an English major, expecting to play field hockey and lacrosse, though at the time women’s lacrosse at Bates was more of a plan than a reality. During her sophomore year she was recruited by Coach Bob Flynn to give cross-country skiing a try. Winning her first four races, Nancy later remembered with a laugh, “I was all lungs and no technique. I figured that if I could learn to ski properly, I might be pretty good at the sport.” To put it mildly, so it proved. In one of the most extraordinary athletic accomplishments in Bates history, over the next three years Nancy won every race she entered. She finished her Bates career undefeated, and was our first skiing All-American. She went on to be the first Bates woman ever to compete as an Olympic athlete, and was the fifth Batesie ever selected for an Olympic team.
Nancy was an English major, with great affection for Bates and her education. With Dean’s List academic performance, she was elected to the College Key and earned a Senior Citation Award. With broad athletic interests, she helped bring two new club sports to women’s athletics in lacrosse and cross country. After a trial period and with support from Bates, and in the helpful environment of the early years of Title IX, both sports became varsity programs at Bates.
After Bates, Nancy continued her passion for cross-country skiing and made a push to try to qualify for the 1980 Olympic Team. She came up short and set her dream aside for a while. Seven years later she qualified for the US World Championship team, thus beginning an eight-year run on the US Ski Team. Nancy competed in four World Championships (1987, 1989, 1991, and 1993) and in two Winter Olympics, 1988 in Calgary and 1992 in Albertville. She finished 25th overall and was the top US finisher in the 1992 winter Olympics, at 18th place in the 30K race, and she placed 15th in the 15K race at the World Championships in 1989. Although these events are normally dominated by Europeans, Nancy was one of the best 20 female cross-country skiers in the world, and generally the top U.S. finisher in international races. Through the years, she competed in many World Cup races and won the U.S. national title fourteen times. A ski writer said of her performances, “Nancy Fiddler was pure tensile strength. She willed herself to be one of the top Nordic skiers in the world.”
Upon retiring from ski racing, Nancy returned to her California home near Mammoth Lakes. The ending of her competitive career morphed into the beginning of another dream; to bring cross-country skiing to the youth of Mammoth Lakes, a facility used by Olympic hopefuls. For the past 18 years, Nancy has been teaching and coaching skiing in the eastern Sierra Nevadas, where she lives with her husband, Claude, and their daughter, Laurel. Nancy formed her area’s school Nordic ski teams and, more recently, the Mammoth Mountain Junior Competition team which trains young skiers year round. Many of Nancy’s skiers, including her daughter, have represented the Far West in the Junior Nationals. Additionally, Nancy has been coaching Masters skiers for over a decade.
Presently, Nancy is the program director for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and is the Head Junior Nordic Coach at the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center. Using her Bates English degree, Nancy still enjoys writing and is a frequent contributor to local publications. For many years she has been an active Alumni in Admissions volunteer and interviewer, covering high school college nights and interviewing candidates for Bates in her part of California.
For her tireless enthusiasm and support for Bates, and for her lifelong dedication to world-level athletics and the outdoor life, we are proud to offer membership in the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society to Nancy Ingersoll Fiddler.