Ski team takes fourth place at Bates carnival

The Williams College Nordic Ski Team traveled up to the wilds of northern New England last weekend to compete in the Bates Carnival held at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine. The Eph skiers battled tough conditions and a tough course to finish strong in Friday’s 3×5 kilometer skate relay, and post an excellent team result on Saturday, with both the men’s and women’s teams finishing fourth in the classic style race, 15K for the women, 20K for the men.

The weathermen had predicted the worst for the weekend, and the team arrived in Maine Thursday night expecting to wake up to the worst: an icy mix of rain, sleet and snow. Thanks to an unexpected wave of high pressure arriving from Canada, however, Friday turned out to be an excellent day for skiing. Temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s, an early start, terrific grooming and bulletproof snow made for fast conditions for both the men’s and women’s 3×5 kilometer skate relays.

The women were the first out of the stadium, with the Williams A team of Sylvia Englund ’99, Erin Graham ’02 and Loryn Kipp ’99 powering their way to a sixth place overall finish. The B team of Katie Guernsey ’00, Helena Johnson ’00 and Elly Spensley ’01 finished second in the open division.

Conditions softened a bit for the men’s race, but still proved fast for the Williams A team of Topher Sabot ’99, Nick Trautz ’99 and P.J. Spina ’00 who finished in fifth place. In the open division, the B team of Noel Johnson ’01, Ben Kamilewicz ’99 and Jason Lemieux ’01 glided their way to a fourth place finish. Johnson said, “I didn’t even think out there. The whole race was just pure adrenaline.”

The weather caught up with the Ephs on Saturday, as the team fell asleep to the sound of falling snow, and awoke to the sound of ice being scraped off windshields in the parking lot. The mist of freezing rain falling on the course was no match for the wax-selecting skill of head coach Bud Fisher, however, and the men’s team headed out to race and charge ahead where others would fall behind. Leading the way for the Williams men was Lemieux, recovering from illness to finish in thirteenth. Right behind Lemieux were Spina and Kamilewicz in fifteenth and sixteenth, Sabot in seventeenth, and Trautz in nineteenth. Johnson rounded out a close group of Eph skiers, finishing in twenty-fifth place. Sabot commented that “Overall today’s races were an extremely exciting start to the carnival season – five men in the top twenty is just awesome.”

Kipp was the top finisher for the Eph women in tenth place, closely followed by Englund in eleventh. Guernsey completed the scoring for the women, crossing the finish line in seventeenth place. Graham and Johnson battled for the finish line, winding up twenty-third and twenty-fifth, respectively. Spensley completed a strong showing by the Williams women, finishing in thirty-second place overall. According to Englund, “This course brought out the best in Williams skiers. We could be aggressive in the sharp and twisting downhills, and make use of our excellent classic technique in the challenging uphills.”

The weekend proved to be a promising start for a tough bunch of purple cow skiers, who will be using their experience this coming weekend, both good and bad, to help them prepare for the long carnival season ahead. The team will travel up to Jackson, NH next weekend for the UNH carnival, where it is expected that the cow will be rocked once again. Assistant coach Hilary Greene said, “We showed that we’re competitive with the best teams out there.” Fisher added, “I’m definitely proud of this weekend’s results, with both men and women finishing fourth. It was certainly really nice to see Sylvia and Loryn tenth and eleventh, Jason and P.J. thirteenth and fifteenth. If we keep working at it, we can ski even better; this is only an indication of what’s to come.”