After two building years in which it developed its young talent, the Harvard ski team seemed poised to move up in the standings of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association entering the 2012 season.
But in its first event of the year, a deep field and some bad luck kept the Crimson in its usual ninth-place position at the Bates Carnival held at the Sunday River and Black Mountain on Friday and Saturday.
Leading the charge were Harvard’s usual suspects, sophomore alpine racer Rebecca Nadler and junior Nordic skier Alena Tofte. Nadler took sixth in Friday’s giant slalom and 10th in Saturday’s slalom, while Tofte’s highlight performance was a seventh place finish in Friday’s 5k freestyle race.
Nadler’s finish came a year after she shocked the EISA with a fourth-place finish in her first-ever college carnival.
“I think that [sixth-place finish] was almost more impressive because the competition is much steeper this year,” alpine coach Tim Mitchell said. “University of Vermont added three Norwegian skiers and one Canadian skier who’s also competing on the World Cup tour. Numbers wise, sixth is not as good as fourth, but that was fantastic.”
Nadler led the alpine women to a fourth-place finish in the giant slalom event. Also contributing was junior Catherine Sheils, who took 21st in the event, and captain Caroline McHugh, who finished 30th.
“She was that consistent finisher that made that result possible,” said Mitchell of McHugh, whose finish was necessary to put the team on the board.
“Without her putting down a solid clean run, there was going to be no women’s result,” Mitchell added.
Nadler, who is a fairly established threat in the giant slalom, was more excited about her finish in the slalom, which has not always been her strong suit.
“More than anything, I’m really happy with the way I attacked and skied the slalom [Saturday],” the sophomore said. “Overall it was a really good weekend.”
“Rebecca skied a second run [that was] probably the best slalom run I’ve seen her ski in over a year,” Mitchell added.
But bad luck plagued the rest of the women’s alpine team, which finished eighth in the event.
“Catherine [Sheils] was skiing very well. It was difficult conditions, and she hit a pile of snow funny and went out of the course and back,” Mitchell noted. “She ended up having a pretty solid result. If you didn’t know she made a mistake, you wouldn’t have guessed. [Caroline McHugh’s] ski pole got stuck out of the starting gate, ripped her ski pole and glove off. It was just disappointing that that happened.”
Nadler and Sheils were the only Crimson skiers able to complete the course.
“If we had a third finisher, we probably would’ve been somewhere from third to fifth, but that’s ski racing—you’ve got to find the finish line.”