The University will be well-represented by six athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, beginning Friday in Beijing. Under the flags of Canada, Switzerland, and the United States, as well as Team Harvard, four current students and an alumna will compete in their first Olympics in Women’s and Men’s Ice Hockey and Cross-Country Skiing. Alumnus Dan Cnossen will compete for the third time for Team USA at the Paralympic Games, beginning on March 4 also in Beijing.
Whether a rookie or a veteran, each has trained for years toward this moment, and COVID made training even more challenging. While the Beijing Olympics will be different from previous Winter Games, with all of the necessary adjustments and limitations required by a global pandemic, these contenders called the achievement a dream come true. Follow their experiences here.
Keely Moy ’22
For Mather House resident Keely Moy, the Olympics were not on her radar until the cloud of the pandemic provided an unexpected rainbow.
An economics concentrator with a secondary in folklore and mythology, Moy is a native of San Diego, but her mother, Susanna, grew up in Switzerland, giving Moy and her brother, Tyler ’17, an alumnus of Harvard’s men’s hockey program, dual American-Swiss citizenship. The tightknit hockey family has always maintained close ties with Switzerland — Tyler currently plays for Geneva in the country’s top professional league.
A senior forward on Harvard’s women’s hockey team, Moy and her teammates saw the pandemic cancel their 2020-21 season entirely. But that misfortune allowed Moy to play a season of hockey in Switzerland last year — a requirement for eligibility on the Swiss national team.
“I definitely have always wanted to be an Olympian, but [I didn’t think] it was going to happen for me, which was OK,” said Moy. “At Harvard, I was playing Division I college hockey for a Top 10 team. But when the pandemic hit, I [realized] I could actually go play for Switzerland and be in the Beijing Olympics.”
The training experience was not without challenges. Her father, Randy, a defining influence in her life and hockey career, died in July 2020 after a battle with cancer. “It was very difficult for me emotionally and mentally … but [going to Switzerland] made me a stronger person in the end,” said Moy. “Not many people move to a foreign country not knowing anybody, and not speaking the language.”
Moy won the Swiss national championship with the Lugano Ladies’ Hockey Club.
“In so many ways, COVID was so tough. But it was such a blessing for me in so many ways. If COVID hadn’t hit, I would have had to take off from school to be with my dad,” Moy said. “It gave me the year of freedom that I needed to go play in Switzerland and have this all happen. It’s every athlete’s dream to go to the Olympics.”
Emerance Maschmeyer ’16
Emerance Maschmeyer has achieved nearly as many goals as she has stopped in the game of ice hockey. The former Harvard goalie is a decorated veteran of the Canadian national team and led Harvard to the 2015 National Championship game. Until now, one gap on her résumé was the Olympics.
“It’s something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl,” Maschmeyer said. “So to finally get the nod … is an incredible feeling, and I’m just so excited.”
Growing up on her family farm in Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada (pop. 1,308), playing hockey was a way of life. “My dad’s the one who got us into hockey and has done everything for us,” Maschmeyer said. “My four siblings all play hockey, and we’ve always pushed each other and competed, but supported one another.”
Maschmeyer, a Quincy House alum, was influenced by her time on campus as well. “I was 17 to 21 [during my time at Harvard], and those were my prime development years for hockey, but also as a human being,” Maschmeyer said. “[Harvard head coach Katey] Stone has been a huge influence in my life. I feel like those years were the catalyst for my career.”
After graduation, Maschmeyer played for three years in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. When that league shuttered, she and her fellow pros formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, and now put on showcases in different cities as they work toward establishing a new professional league. Since July 2021, she has been based out of Calgary, training and traveling with Team Canada.
“As a really young player, I thought I could play in the NHL, and then quickly found out that that wasn’t going to be my path. But once I realized that I could represent and play for my country, that was my goal. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been saying that I want to play for Team Canada and play in the Olympics.”
Nick Abruzzese ’23
Currier House resident Nick Abruzzese ’23 is a busy man. Last month, he ranked first in all of NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey in points per game. A junior on the Harvard Men’s Hockey, he leads the team as co-captain. And when the NHL recently decided not to send players to the Winter Games due to COVID-related scheduling conflicts, Abruzzese earned a spot representing Team USA in Beijing.
Inspired by his parents, Abruzzese, a native of Slate Hill, New York, has been working his whole life for these opportunities. “I wouldn’t be here without them,” he said.
He was named both Eastern College Athletic Conference and Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2019-20, before COVID canceled Harvard’s 2020-21 season. Knee-deep in hockey season, the psychology concentrator called Beijing “the experience of a lifetime.”
“As time passed the last couple of weeks now, it’s starting to sink in more — the fact that we will be in China,” he said.
While Abruzzese is excited to compete, he also looks forward to the entirety of the experience. “I’m just going to try to take it all in, the different cultures and different countries and different events. Just the melting pot of all the different people and amazing athletes there,” he said. “I think that is what I’m going to try to savor the most.”
Sean Farrell ’24
As a kid in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Sean Farrell always watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on television. This week, he will be there in person, representing the U.S. delegation as a member of Team USA Men’s Hockey team.
“Everyone watched the Olympics and saw those players, who get to represent their country on that stage. For college players to get that opportunity this year, it’s just incredible,” said Farrell. “It was a really emotional moment for me and my family.”
After an exceptional junior hockey career, which saw him named USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year, Farrell has made an immediate impact on the Harvard team as a sophomore, after the COVID-19 cancellation of his 2020-21 rookie season.
A resident of Cabot House, Farrell plans to concentrate in economics, and credits his experience on campus with improving his game. “Being in College and playing [NCAA] hockey definitely teaches guys a lot. It’s taught me so much about how to become a more mature person and hockey player as well,” Farrell said. “I’ve had to learn to set aside time for school … time for hockey … time for getting enough rest. All that combined has led me to become a more well-rounded person, and that’s definitely helped me in hockey.”
Farrell is quick to acknowledge the many people, including all of his coaches and teammates, who helped him to this point, but it started with his family. “They’d always take me to games and practices, whether it be at 6 a.m. or 9 at night. They would drive me up to Toronto for a Thursday-Sunday tournament. It took a lot of commitment from them to help me achieve my dreams,” he said. “It definitely feels good to share this moment with them.”
Rémi Drolet ’24
Next week, Rémi Drolet ’24 will be cross-country skiing on an Olympic trail that runs along the Great Wall of China. Drolet has always dreamed of being an Olympian — although even his dreams may not have included such a majestic backdrop. Representing Team Canada in Beijing, he is only the third Harvard skier to compete in the Olympics, and the first since 1984.
“I’m really looking forward to just the overall atmosphere, just seeing what it’s like in the Olympic village and at the venues, seeing the Olympic rings posted everywhere,” Drolet said.
A decorated member of the Canadian National team, Drolet was originally an Olympic team alternate, and was thrilled to make the final roster. “It’s really kind of surreal to be here, because I feel like you dream about this when you’re a kid,” Drolet said. “And for the past four years, it’s really been one of my major goals to make it to the Olympics, and it wasn’t easy. But I made it.”
Named Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association 2020 Rookie of the Year in 2019-20, Drolet took a leave from Harvard this year to pursue his Olympic dream, spending his time competing and training in Canada, Finland, and Sweden. Most recently, the native of Rossland, British Columbia, had been training in Mammoth Lakes, California, in preparation for the higher-altitude trails outside of Beijing.
While he has had singular focus on training, the Adams House resident, who is studying physics and math, said he has missed the Cambridge campus during his time away.
“I really miss my friends and School in general. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Harvard, and the time on the team has been great,” said Drolet. “My teammates, my coaches here are really awesome, and the friends and relationships I’ve built here have really encouraged me to push as hard as I can go.”
Dan Cnossen, M.P.A. ’16, M.T.S. ’18
The heroes of the Marvel Universe have nothing on Dan Cnossen, M.P.A. ’16, M.T.S. ’18: The 2002 Annapolis graduate and Navy Seal platoon commander can claim a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star with Valor, and six Paralympic medals. He has earned two graduate degrees (Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Divinity School) and, at age 41, is competing in his third Paralympic Games.
“Just being in the races you really push yourself to the limit, and with the intensity and the atmosphere of the Winter Games, it enables you to even dig that much deeper, and challenge yourself that much more, and in so doing, you learn a lot about yourself,” said Cnossen.
Cnossen has traveled to China once before, with an HKS delegation in 2016, visiting Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an. “The world is very interesting right now, and it’s an interesting time to be going to China for this Paralympic Games,” said Cnossen. “There’s a whole other geopolitical aspect to it that I’ll just be keen to be a part of as well.”
Cnossen was serving in Afghanistan in 2009 when he stepped on an IED and lost both legs. During his battle back at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, he was introduced to cross-country skiing as a part of his rehabilitation. He fell in love with it, and continued training in Winter Park, Colorado, with coach Shawn Scholl, who inspired Cnossen to launch a Paralympic career. He now lives in Natick, Massachusetts, when he’s not traveling for competition and training, and continues to ski at the Weston Ski Track, where he trained as a Harvard graduate student.
“I’m still in love with the sport of cross-country skiing, because it’s a wonderful opportunity to get out in the woods, to be in nature,” said Cnossen. “It was never about medals.”