For some colleges, the Middlebury Winter Carnival is annually the final opportunity to gain valuable points to earn a spot as a team in the NCAA national championships in two weeks at Winter Park, Colo. For Harvard, it ranks as the most important weekend of the year because the results determine whether the men's team will remain in Division I for the next season; and it gives individuals a chance to qualify for the NCAA's.
Vermont, Middlebury and Dartmouth staged their usual battle for the top spots, with the UVM men's squad surviving challenges by the Big Green and the Carnival hosts to take the top honors for the fourth week in a row. Middlebury topped the field in the women's races, also for the fourth consecutive week.
Both Harvard teams finished in tenth place out of 11 schools; but, strangely enough, the results may mean different things for each team. "It went pretty well," men's alpine captain David Rand said last night. "It was pretty bad," said Vera Fajtova, captain of the women's alpine squad.
For the men, the entire weekend had to be geared toward beating Division II champions Johnson State, which was trying to qualify for Division I by overtaking Harvard in the race for the tenth position. The Crimson accomplished this, handily outscoring their challengers, 115-60, on some fine individual performances by Andy deMars, Alan Hale and Rand.
"We wanted to have a good lead going into the jump, which was the last event of the weekend," Rand said. This was provided largely by a strong showing in Friday's cross-country event, led by a 17th place Andy deMars--a result that qualifies him as an alternate for the individual NCAAs--and top-30 finishes by both Rand and Rob Bradley.
The margin was sealed in the slalom, as Alan Hale schussed in 17th for a full-fledged berth at the NCAAs. Johnson St. earned no points in the event.
In the 55-meter jumping event, Rand showed that the large margin was unnecessary as his 20th-place finish picked up as many points as the three Johnson St. jumpers combined.
This Carnival brought two major surprises for the women's team, the first of which was a new race--a cross-country relay--which hit the women in the team's most inexperienced leg.
A 9th by Kris Hodgkins in the giant slalom and captain Vera Fajtova's 20th in the slalom were the largest point-getters for the women, who were in for another surprise at the end when they learned that the women's Division I may be cut down to only nine teams next year, meaning the Crimson would be bumped down to Division II.
Fajtova said she feels that knowing about the possible change before the weekend's races would have helped the team's performance. "Being in Division II would be a big hassle in terms of transportation; and there would be much less incentive for us to try to improve, since the other skiers would not be as good," she explained.