A year ago, Chris Stock was a promising freshman Nordic skier. On Friday, he fulfilled that promise, placing as one of the top skiers in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association. The sophomore’s fourth-place finish in the men’s classic sprint event highlighted Harvard’s ninth-place finish this past weekend at the University of New Hampshire Carnival.
For both the men and women, the classic sprint event, which took place at Jackson Ski Touring Center, was run in tournament style, beginning with an opening heat in which only the top 36 skiers advanced.
Stock and juniors Alena Tofte and Esther Kennedy of the Crimson women’s Nordic team all placed among the top 36 to advance to the quarterfinals.
That was as far as Tofte would go. The junior tripped on a competitor’s ski and was able to rally to place third in the heat, but only the top two advanced to semis. Tofte would finish 16th in the event.
Kennedy, meanwhile, charged to the semifinals with a strong sprint in the last 200 meters. Kennedy wouldn’t advance to the A final, but her finish in the B final gave her a 12th-place overall finish that marked her strongest collegiate result.
“She did a good job of summer training,” said Nordic coach Chris City ’94. “She’s a very easygoing person outside of skiing, and so it’s kind of fun to see her...competitive fire coming out....It was just exciting to see her keep advancing.”
Stock, meanwhile, was able to fight his way to the A final. The sophomore led the final for the first kilometer but was out-double poled on the final stretch and finished fourth.
“He’s a good sprinter, and we kept talking all day about no expectations, just talking about ‘let’s see how far you can go,’” City said. “He has a knack for it, and he’s in good shape.”
Stock’s finish was the highest any Harvard Nordic male skier has placed since at least 1994, the earliest year in City’s records. Additionally, it was the highest any Nordic skier had placed since the carnival-winning finishes of Anna McLoon ’04.
Stock’s finish led the men’s Nordic team to a seventh-place finish in the event, while the women’s Nordic team took fifth. The women’s finish was the highest of any Crimson squad this weekend.
Tofte led the charge on Saturday, with an 11th-place finish in the 15k free race to help Harvard take sixth as a team in the event. The men’s Nordic team took 11th in Saturday’s 20k free.
While Stock was making Crimson history on Friday, the EISA alpine skiers were taking the day off. Weather conditions forced the cancellation of Friday’s giant slalom event.
“There was too much snow, and there were really unsafe conditions,” alpine coach Tim Mitchell said. “They couldn’t move all of the new snow out of the way so they just double [counted] the results from today so that [the alpine skiers] could have the same number of results as the Nordic skiers did.”
While it was safe to ski on Saturday, the conditions were still affected by the snow that had proved perilous the day before. Because of the snow’s difficulty, Harvard’s skiers were forced to make a choice: Go for speed, or ski conservatively. They all took the first option.
Unfortunately for the Crimson, its daring didn’t pay off.