Alpine/Nordic ski teams notch yet another fifth place finish

With only two carnivals left after this weekend’s races at Dartmouth, the Alpine and Nordic ski teams have been kicking it into high gear in preparation for the NCAA national championships in Anchorage, Alaska. When all was said and done in Hanover, however, the team had registered a number of phenomenal individual and team efforts, helping Williams take fifth place for the weekend.

The Eph onslaught was led by Mark Heinrich-Wallace ’04 who had a personal-best finish in the slalom race, placing second overall. His race, combined with an excellent showing for the alpine men in the giant slalom and the come-from-behind success of the men’s Nordic squad, was central to the team’s strong finish this weekend.

The weekend’s Nordic race was a pursuit, so the times from Friday’s freestyle race were combined with the times from Saturday’s classical race. It is from that ranking that team points were calculated. The best overall performance in the pursuit came from Eric Tietze ’03, who posted an 18th place finish. Following closely was Ben Connard ’02, who ended up in 19th. Tim Stickney ’04, Matt Holland ’02 and Seth Behrends ’02 made up the second wave of Williams skiers, placing 26th through 28th respectively. Anders Haugen ’04, who had an 18th place finish in Friday’s classical race, did not race on Saturday due to a cold.

The combined results ignore some of the gutsy performances of the men’s team on Saturday. After posting some mid-rate results on Friday, the team pulled it together and skied extremely well to give them the results they took home. Tietze finished Saturday’s course in 11th place, while Holland, Connard, Stickney and Behrends took spots 22 through 25. Their hard work paid off, helping the men’s Nordic team to edge out rival Bates to take fifth place.

The women’s Nordic team fought off sickness to pull out a very respectable sixth place finish in its category, despite having lost two skiers to colds. Whitney Thompson ’04 crossed the finish line in 21st place in the freestyle race to finish 23rd for the weekend. Captain Hilary Hackmann ’02 continued to ski with consistency, coming home in 25th place, and Erin Graham ’02 finished the weekend in 30th. Rachel Samuelson ’04 posted a blazing 22nd place finish in the race on Friday, but due to a miscommunication, ended up missing her start, leaving her in 35th for the weekend.

Hackmann was impressed with the effort this weekend, but noted the potential for improvement. “I wish that the women’s team had skied a little closer to the top,” Hackmann said. “I know we are capable of taking over the teens rather than the twenties. Overall, I was happy with the results but I’m already looking ahead to the Williams carnival and really doing well on our home course.”

The men’s Alpine team led the way this weekend, posting a fourth place finish in its category, and some of the best individual results for Williams. Saturday’s slalom race was punctuated by Heinrich-Wallace’s performance, but behind him were a number of excellent finishes. Fellow sophomore Peter Endres ’04 finished the day in 18th place, while J.J. Hanley ’02 and Jason Epstein ’05 took 25th and 26th, respectively. Chris Frank ’05 rounded out the Williams contingency in 40th.

The giant slalom race was even more phenomenal as the team took five of the top 15 spots. The wave of purple and gold was led by a ninth place finish from Brad Nichol ’02. Close behind him was Frank in 11th, Hanley in 12th, and Heinrich-Wallace in 13th. Endres rounded out the Williams scorers in 15th.

The women’s Alpine team had a strong showing this weekend itself, but, like everyone else, they are looking forward to dominating at their home carnival this weekend. Brookie Kaltsas ’04 led the way in the Slalom race with a speedy 21st place finish. On her heels was Ashley Carter ’04 in 25th place.

Kate Leonard ’03 and Addie Robinson ’05 took 35th and 36th respectively, while Katie Davisson ’05 finished in 39th. Robinson, usually a powerhouse in the slalom, finished her first run in the top ten, but in her second run she missed a gate and had to hike up the hill. Kendra Totman ’05 rounded out the women’s side with a 46th place finish. Their performance landed them three points out of fifth, good for seventh place.

Friday’s giant slalom race also saw good results from the Alpine ladies, with Carter posting an 18th place finish, backed up by Robinson in 21st. Kaltsas flew in for 34th, and Davisson rounded out the scorers with a 45th place finish. Their hard work on in the giant slalom paid off, landing them a fifth place finish for the day, and secured them a fifth place for the weekend.

“The weekend had its highs and lows,” Kaltsas said, “but we are excited about our carnival.”

The Alpine teams should be excited. For Williams, a home course advantage means the steepest slope on the circuit. Although for many skiers this might be intimidating, the fearless Ephs have been training on the slope all season and should be in a position to dominate.

The Nordic team is also excited about the prospects for next weekend. After a weekend of sickness, the team is regaining its strength and will be back with a bang during carnival. The Nordic course should also be extremely challenging, full of tricky turns and intense grade changes, helping the Ephs ski their way past some of their perennial rivals.

Williams has finished fifth at every carnival up to this point, and this past weekend ended with the same result. Competing against ski powerhouses like Dartmouth and University of Vermont, the Ephs have been happy with the respectable team scores, but they have set their sights on moving up in the rankings. “We’re looking forward to our carnival,” Connard said. “Hopefully we can take advantage of a home course advantage and ski better and faster than we have so far this year.”

Next weekend is the ski team’s only home meet. The Alpine team will be at Jiminy Peak, while the Nordic team will be skiing at Prospect Mountain in Vermont. Keep an eye open for posters listing shuttle times to the races.