Improving from last year’s 10th-place result, the Crimson’s steady finishes were a solid achievement.
Racing in the EISA division, Harvard competed against fellow Ivies as well as other Northeast schools with some of the oldest skiing programs in the nation.
“We’re racing in the most difficult league in the country,” said Alpine head coach Tim Mitchell. “When competing in the Ivy League in most other sports, it does not represent the absolute top end of the sport in the country, whereas in the EISA for skiing, it does represent the absolute top end. Whoever wins the EISA is generally either first or second in the nation.”
A team that struggled to find enough racers to compete in 2006, the Crimson has steadily expanded over the past two years from a roster of 16 athletes to its current 34.
Kicking off the season at the Bates Carnival, the Crimson placed ninth out of 12 teams.
A two week break from competition did not bring different results when Harvard landed in the ninth spot at the University of Vermont Carnival.
Staying consistent in February, the Dartmouth and Williams Carnivals saw familiar finishes for Harvard, setting up the squad for its season-ending race at the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships with its fifth and final ninth-place outcome among 15 total teams.
With Dartmouth and Middlebury most often landing the first and second spots, respectively, Harvard finished behind eighth-place St. Lawrence University and ahead of St. Michael’s College in the 10th position.
On the Alpine side, second-year coach Mitchell noticed a great deal of steady improvements from week to week between carnivals.
“The progress has been tremendous,” Mitchell said. “The interest that we’re getting from up and coming athletes had been really good. On the whole, the team that we have is progressing quite well and we seem to be going in the right direction.”
“I think everyone ended on a positive note, and everyone that’s carrying over to next year is really excited for the coming season,” Alpine captain Alex Teng said.
At the close of the season, Nordic head coach Peter Graves had high hopes for next season.
“We have done some really serious recruiting for the men and we’re optimistic how that might turn out,” Graves said. “We’ve got three guys for sure that we’re pretty confident are going to be coming back, and then with what we get with recruits, we hope that we can field a team of at least six.”
Graves also emphasized the potential for next year after positive recruiting for the young women’s side.
“We’re recruiting from all over the country now and it’s going really well,” Graves said. “The next couple of years are going to be very exciting for us and should manifest itself in much, much improved results.”
After six years, Graves is stepping down from his position for personal reasons and will not return next winter.
Graves was a large contributor to the squad’s recent success and rebuilding, and his absence will unquestionably be missed, but the program is positioned to progress.
“I think this has been the best team depth that we’ve had since I’ve been coaching here,” Graves said at the season’s close. “And I think that’s a really good sign for the future.”
“All in all, it’s been a season of great growth,” he added. “The future is optimistic.”
—Staff writer Kara T. Kelley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.