Eph Knight top US finisher at Salt Lake with 12th place in slalom

Although the big Olympic story in Friday’s men’s slalom race was Bode Miller’s two falls during his second run, for many Williams fans the bigger story was the incredible performance of Chip Knight ’04. After a first run that landed him in 17th place, Knight fought back in his second run, grabbing himself a 12th place finish in the race, and ending the day as the top American finisher in the slalom.

Knight, who grew up in Stowe, Vt., is considered a “special student” by the registrar. This means that he attends classes when possible, focusing most of his time on competing on the international stage. The New Cannan, Conn. native has completed three semesters towards graduation and is listed as a history major. Knight is the 27th person associated with the College, either as a coach or student, to go to the Olympics.

After missing a gate in the slalom course in Nagano, Japan during the 1998 Olympics, Knight fought back, posting a number of excellent results in World Cup events and eventually landing another spot on the Olympic team. “My teammates and I have been undergoing a similar buildup of expectation and excitement,” Knight wrote. “Following the Games in Nagano our coaches designed and planned a four-year macro-hypertrophy schedule, which attempted to achieve peak performance for this season by increasing our training days significantly in the ‘middle two years’ of the quadrennial before backing off on that load this past summer.”

Coming into the year as a member of the U.S. Ski Team’s B-Team, he has posted a number of impressive results. Starting in November, he took a second and a third in the slalom races at the NorAm [North American] Games. Then, after a string of frustrating first runs which made him unable to qualify for finals, he popped back onto the circuit this January with a 17th place finish in a World Cup slalom race in Adelboden, another World Cup 17th in Wengen and a phenomenal fifth place in Westendorf.

These results helped Knight fight his way into third on the USSA slalom points list (ahead of current Ephs Mark Heinrich-Wallace ’04 in 75th and Chris Frank ’05 in 100th) and land a spot on the U.S. team for Salt Lake City. While on break this past month in preperation for the Olympics, he took the time to write an e-mail to the College’s Sports Info crew. “I’m really excited about the upcoming Olympics and the thrill of competing on such a stage in my own country,” Knight said. “I’m also feeling good on my skis after some great results this past month.”

The Olympic slalom race was the final alpine event of the Olympics, and going into the run all eyes were on Miller, who had two medals going in and was looking to grab a third to round out his Olympics. After his first run he found himself in second behind Frenchman Jean-Pierre Vidal. Being an all-or-nothing skier, he took the second run too aggressively, and ended up missing a gate and hiking. Knight capitalized on his decent position in the results and skied an incredible second run. The course was treacherous – five of the top 15 skiers faltered on their second trip to the bottom. “It felt like hell but you had to fight the whole way down,” Knight said, talking about the course on the US ski team website. “It’s that kind of hill. It was so warm the snow was peeling away and my boots were soft, so I had to ski the rut.” In the end, he found himself just where he wanted to be: in the top fifteen at the Olympics.

Hopefully, Knight will now realize a new level of competition and continue on the fast track to success. “There is no other choice,” Knight said, “but to believe in the future and to rely on my abilities as a ski racer to carry me.”