Nordic skiers search for consistency; prepare for Natl’s

Each year, the Nordic ski season seems to fly by, with little time for teams to take time out, rest, and reflect on where their seasons are going, what they need to work on, and what has improved. This year for the first time those teams on the Carnival circuit had a weekend off to do exactly that. It was a much needed break; the demands of racing twice every weekend all winter are enough to make even the most die-hard racer wish he devoted his time to a less grueling broom ball schedule.

According to coach Bud Fisher, the main problem both the men’s and women’s teams face right now is a lack of consistency. Said Fisher, “We have trouble putting two races together.” This season the teams have established a pattern of skiing strong in one race of the weekend, but slipping in the other; a pattern repeated last weekend at the UVM Carnival in Stowe, Vermont. In Friday’s 10k classic race Topher Sabot ‘99 led the way for Williams, finishing fourteenth. The next two Williams racers, Jason Lemieux ’01 and P.J. Spina ’00, were twenty-sixth and twenty-ninth. It was a frustrating race for several of the men, as the tricky waxing conditions left them struggling on the hilly course. They came back strong on Saturday, however, to fight their way close to the top of the pile in the 20k skate race. Ben Kamilewicz ’99 was first for Williams in thirteenth place, followed by Nick Trautz ’99 in fourteenth, Lemieux in seventeenth, and Spina in eighteenth.

In the women’s 5k classic race held on Friday, Helena Johnson ’00 was Williams’ top finisher in twenty-fifth place. Elly Spensley ’01, followed by Sylvia Englund ’99, rounded out the scoring for Williams, finishing in twenty-ninth and thirtieth place respectively. Englund led the way for the women in Saturday’s 15k skate, finishing twenty-second. She was followed by Johnson in thirty-second, Maren Eggert ’98 in thirty-fifth, and Ellen Jacobson ’01 in thirty-sixth.

Coach Fisher commented that, “Both the women and the men have had a good start to the first half of the season, with virtually every member of the team having race results equal to or better than their personal bests.” Fisher believes that the challenge in the second half of the season will be for the team to begin to ski more consistently, raising the overall team score and beating teams like Bates and St. Lawrence.

“Now is also the time,” continued Fisher, “for the individual members of the team to begin solidifying NCAA positions.” There are currently five men and two women with a shot at making it to the championships in Bozeman, Montana in March. The top twenty skiers in each race score points towards qualifying, with a skier’s best two skating and classic races counting. This year the top thirteen skiers overall will make the team, with no more than three racers qualifying from each school.

All Williams students are urged to come cheer on the team weekend after next at the Williams Carnival up at Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vermont — the team’s only home race of the season. It promises to be one of the most spectator friendly courses on the Carnival circuit, with a new killer downhill in full view of the start/finish area. Feb. 20 is the 10k skate race for the men and women, followed by a 10k classical pursuit race the following day.