The Harvard ski team faces the possibility of losing its Division I ranking this weekend when it travels to Middlebury. Vt, for the final stop on the 1971 Winter Carnival Circuit.
The Crimson again finished last in the Williams Carnival last weekend, and unless coach Bill McCollom is able to find some jumpers by Saturday, another last-place finish at Middlebury is a near certainty.
Should Harvard wind up in eighth place, the team will be dropped from Division I competition and must compete on the Division II or college-level circuit next season.
"That would just about mean the end of skiing a: Harvard." McCollom said Sunday. "I just don't think we could get the good people to come out if we were competing in Division II."
Jumping has been the Crimson's enigma since the week before the Dartmouth Carnival when Nordic captain Chris Ferner and number two jumper Jim Platz quit the team. Ferner is one of the East's top jumpers, but neither he nor Platz felt motivated to compete on the carnival circuit this season.
Without Ferner and Platz, the Crimson has been unable to win any significant number of points in the Nordic events. At Williams, Harvard was in sixth place after the Alpine events and the cross country, but finished last in the jumping and fell to eighth place.
Brot Coburn wound up in 24th place while John Boyle and Dick Compton noshed 27th and 28th. That's last and next-to-last places.
"The biggest point spread seems to be in the jumping anyway." McCollom said. "But we are really losing ground without any top class jumpers."
In the Alpine events at Williams. Jay O'Rear finished sixth in the slalom after his first full week of practice since January 10. Captain Alan Watson fell on his second run but finished 20th, and Coburn was 22nd. "skiing cautiously" according to McCollom.
Things did not go so well in the giant slalom, as Greg Murdock in 18th place and O'Rear in 19th paced the Crimson. Watson stepped out of his binding on his first run and did not finish.
"Alan has been skiing very well, but he has just had incredibly bad luck," McCollom said.
Robbie Ploiti of St. Lawrence repeated his performance at Dartmouth, winning both the slalom and giant slalom.
Dartmouth rebounded to take the team title at Williams, and was follow-ed by UNH and Middlebury, the titlist at Dartmouth.
Middlebury lost the team title in the cross country event when bad wax left them with their top finishers in tenth and 18th places. For the Crimson, Compton was 22nd but no one else ran well. Boyle finished 30th and John Rikert was 33rd.
The team breakdown was highlighted by Dartmouth's comeback after losing its home title at the Dartmouth Carnival. The Big Green won both the giant slalom and cross country events, while UNH took the slalom and Middlebury dominated the jumping.