Long overlooked by collegiate rivals, Harvard's varsity ski team has finally emerged with enough individual talent to challenge Dartmouth and Middlebury for the Eastern Championship. An assortment of injuries and illnesses, however, might prevent the squad from becoming the finest in Harvard history.
Both Willie Draper, an honorable mention All-American who finished fourth in the NCAA slalom last March, and Alpine star Larry Carter, are recuperating from bouts with mononucleosis. Draper is also suffering from a broken arm, but both he and Carter are expected to attend Harvard's holiday training camp.
Captain Pete Carter's ankle injury could prove more damaging to Harvard's prospects. Carter, who ranked tenth in the NCAA downhill last winter, fractured his ankle last summer while training in Chile, and the injury never healed properly. An operation, which could sideline Carter indefinitely, may be required to remove a floating bone chip.
With last year's top three Alpine stars temporarily incapacitated, sophomore sensations Alan Watson and Jay O'Rear are expected to fill the gap. Both rank "among the top slalom skiers in the country," according to Harvard coach Dick Friedman.
Watson, O'Rear, and Class A competitor Steve Bainbridge will carry the Harvard banner in the Pat Hardy Memorial race at Waterville Valley, N.H., this weekend.
The Nordic team should be vastly improved by the addition of three outstanding sophomores--Jim Platz, John Boyle, and Chris Ferner. Ferner, who captured the Oslo (Norway) Combined Nordic Championship in 1966, is regarded by Friedman as possibly the finest runner and jumper among U.S. collegiate competitors.
Captain Jim Wolff and Ray Ingersole add depth and experience to Harvard's jumping corps, while veteran Steve Hinkle and sophomore Rolley Hazzard are potentially top cross country runners.
After returning from its New Hampshire training camp, the Harvard ski team will sponsor a major racing competition on January 4 for the first time ever. To be known as the Harvard Challenge Cup, this two-run slalom at Loon Mt., N.H., will be the first major U.S. race of 1969 and should attract many of the country's best skiers.