Ski teams manage a sixth and final fifth place finish at Middlebury

Despite another slate of strong individual performances for the ski team at the Middlebury Carnival, the Ephs were again unable to knock off rival University of New Hampshire (UNH) and move up from their season-long fifth place finish. Although there are no more carnival races, the team will have one last chance to take on their rivals, as Williams was able to secure a number of berths in the NCAA Div. I Championships, to be held March 4-9 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Leading the way this weekend with a sixth place finish in Saturday’s giant slalom (GS) race was Brad Nichol ’02, who was able to extend his collegiate skiing career for another couple of weeks with that finish.

Joining him at nationals from the men’s alpine team will be Mark Heinrich-Wallace ’04, who also impressed this weekend, notching an eighth place finish in the giant slalom and a 10th place in the slalom. Following the upperclassmen to Alaska will be Chris Frank ’05, who posted a number of excellent results toward the end of the season.

For the men’s Nordic team, Ben Connard ’02, who posted a 12th place finish in the freestyle race and a 13th place finish in the classic race, will be representing the Ephs. Along with him will be Eric Tietze ’03, who grabbed 16th place in Friday’s classic race.

Only two women will be wearing purple and gold at nationals, though three qualified. Addie Robinson ’05, who wowed the upperclassmen time after time with her blazing results in the slalom races, tore her ACL this weekend in Friday’s tricky race and will be out of competition for the rest of the season.

Fortunately, Ashley Carter ’04, a master of the GS, will be representing the women’s alpine team following her impressive ninth place finish in Saturday’s GS race. Making the trip with Carter will be Erin Graham ’02 from the Nordic team, who has skied in the top 15 in most classic technique races this season.

The story of the weekend, though, was unquestionably the amazing performance of the men’s alpine team. The team ended up ranked third in Friday’s slalom race, with Heinrich-Wallace in 10th, JJ Hanley ’02 in 12th and Pete Endres ’04 in 13th. Behind these three was Chris Frank ’05 in 21st after a slow first run, and Nichol ’02 in 55th, who fell on his first run.

Saturday’s GS was equally impressive, as the men retained their spot on the podium, placing three in the top 12. Nichol led the onslaught with a sixth place finish, followed closely by Heinrich-Wallace in eighth.

Rounding out the scorers was JJ Hanley ’02 in 12th to top off his impressive college career. Finishing off the day for the team were Endres and Frank, who placed 22nd and 23rd respectively, and captain Alex Hood ’02, who finished his career with a 27th place finish.

“Our coaches really looked to us [the men’s alpine team] for a win in the GS on Saturday,” Nichol said. “They knew any one of us could win, and told us to go out and do it. After the first run we were in second place to Middlebury by four points with all six guys in the top 25. We were a bit disappointed after ending up in third but it was still a great day and a great weekend.”

Backing up their alpine counterparts, the men’s Nordic team also had an impressive weekend. Led by the excellent skiing of Ben Connard ’02, the Ephs took fifth place both days. Friday’s 10-kilometer classic race saw Connard leading the way in 13th place, followed closely by Tietze in 16th place and Karl Remsen ’03 in 20th.

Behind these three were Anders Haugen ’04 and Matt Holland ’02 in 23rd and 24th, respectively, and Pete Leonard ’04 in 41st. Saturday’s freestyle race was equally impressive with Connard taking 12th place, followed closely by Holland in 19th,Remsen in 21st and Tietze in 22nd. Leonard rounded out the Williams crew in 30th place.

“We had a good year,” Connard said. “It was tough at times because we lost our top three skiers from last year, and replacing them wasn’t easy. Karl Remsen stepped up and had some good classic races for us. Anders Haugen had a really solid year and we could always depend on him to be in the top 20.”

Without the services of Robinson, the women’s alpine team had a rough run of the slalom course and finished in ninth place for the day. Leading the charge for the ladies was Carter in 26th followed closely by Brookie Kaltsas ’04 in 27th. Leonard took 39th place and Katie Davisson ’05 rounded out the day for the ladies taking 43rd.

Saturday’s GS race went better for the Ephs, with the team rallying for fifth place. Carter took ninth place, Leonard was 25th, Kaltsas grabbed 34th and Kendra Totman ’05 and Davisson took 49th and 54th, respectively.

The Women’s Nordic team fared slightly better than their downhill counterparts, but was also held back by illness. Friday’s classic race was a rough one for the women. Graham, usually a master of the technique, skied in for 23rd place. Close on her heels were Magali Sutton ’05 notching an impressive 25th place and Rachel Samuelson ’04 in 29th.

Sarah Torkelson ’04, Hilary Hackmann ’02 and Whitney Thompson ’04 rounded out the squad’s seventh place finish, with the three crossing the line in 38th, 39th and 41st, respectively.

Saturday went better for the team, though, as they moved up to sixth place. Thompson, Graham and Torkelson skied close together to take 24th through 26th for the team. Behind them were Samuelson in 29th and Sutton in 37th. Captain Hackmann was forced to sit out for the day due after she was stricken with a sickness.

“Saturday was a much better day for the women’s team overall,” Hackmann said. “Less than halfway through the race found Erin, Rachel, Sarah and Whitney pretty close together, and they stayed that way for much of the race. It was a beautiful day and I think Sarah especially is finding a new love for long skate races.”

Despite the occasional frustrations, the teams have had an extremely strong, consistent season. Keep an eye open for the skiers at nationals, where the Ephs hope to match or improve upon the 12th place finishes the team managed in 2000 and 2001.