Ski racing team welcomes exchange student
By Hannah Bensen, Current Staff
“Where is the hill?,” Camille Kaufmann asked when she discovered that WBHS had a ski racing team.
Kaufmann is a foreign exchange student from Switzerland who grew up ski racing in the mountains of Switzerland, which boasts elevations as high as 15,000 feet. This elevation advantage made Kaufmann stand out during ski practices.
“I was highly optimistic when I saw her,” assistant coach Jim Brock said.
Kaufmann skis the number two seed for the West Bend co-op ski team, behind West sophomore Sarah Devenport. She joined just for fun, hoping to escape the aggressive atmosphere of her racing in Switzerland.
“I stopped ski racing [in Switzerland] because I wasn’t competitive enough. For me, it was more for fun. Here, everybody is nice, everybody is friends. We are coming first to have fun more than winning,” Kaufmann said.
Her friendly personality has made her popular among teammates and coaches. “She fits in really well,” East sophomore Isabel Krueger said. “It doesn’t really matter where you come from as long as you have a passion for what we are doing.”
Kaufmann definitely meets this requirement, as she knew that she wanted to be a skier at age two and a half. “It was a few months after I started walking, and I found these boots and these skis, and I put the boots on me, I had never skied before. So my parents were like, ‘Okay, she will ski.’”
Kaufmann raced competitively up until she was about 12 years old. She is now a ski instructor and teaches children to ski just out of love of the sport.
“It liberates your mind and it’s in nature. You’re not in the house, watching TV, you’re outside. In Switzerland, there is so much to do and see, you can go up on the mountains and see the sun rise,” Kaufmann said.
When asked how long it took to get used to America, Kaufmann said she was still adjusting. “I’m still discovering stuff…but I would say after two months, I was pretty good,” she said.
While adapting to life in America, skiing is one thing that did not take long to adjust to. She has a had a very successful season, finishing with several podium finishes and helping the girls varsity team get first place overall in three meets. Kaufmann also finished with Second Team All-Conference Honors.
This season the team took third place out of 21 teams in the conference. They will be going to the state ski meet in Mount LaCrosse on February 15.
(Top image: Camille Kaufmann starts a race at Sunburst Ski Area on Feb. 4. Photograph by Hannah Bensen, Current Staff.)