Over the past two years, Harvard’s top skiers, sophomore Rebecca Nadler, junior Alena Tofte, junior Catherine Sheils, and sophomore Chris Stock, have made several breakthrough performances to put the Crimson jacket in unfamiliar places, most recently on the top of the alpine podium last weekend.
But this weekend, it was the supporting cast leading the charge, with Harvard getting boosts from new faces in its ninth place finish at the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships, hosted by Middlebury.
On the Nordic side, those jolts of energy came from freshman Akeo Maifeld-Carucci and junior Esther Kennedy. Maifeld-Carucci took 15th place in Saturday’s 20k classic race, his best finish of the season. Kennedy impressed in the skate event with a 17th-place finish in the 5k free event.
“She’s jumped up quite a bit [this season],” said Nordic coach Chris City ’94. “That reflects a lot of technique she’s been doing on the skate side and a lot of hard training and also just coming at it with a really good competitive fire. She came into this season really looking to make a mark, and she’s pushed herself. There’s a group of skiers fairly close together. Last year she was at the back of it. This year she’s at the front end of that group.”
As usual, leading the charge in both women’s Nordic events was Tofte, the only skier on the Nordic side to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The junior placed ninth in the 15k classic and ninth in the 5k free.
“She was leading the [15k] race for a little while,” City said. “She’s comfortable she can ski there. I think it bodes well; I think she could have a really good NCAAs.”
Stock came into the weekend two spots away from a trip to Montana for NCAAs, but his 40th in the 10k free and 31st in the 20k classic were not the finishes he needed to move up in the standings.
But while Stock may not have been able to advance in the EISA Championships, his season as a whole was one where he was consistently within striking distance of the top group of skiers.
“He was skiing consistently in the top 20,” City said. “Last year we were jumping up and down when he made the top 20.... I’m really proud of the way he worked all last summer. He made a huge jump in his skiing. He was not even close [to NCAAs] last year; he was right on the cusp this year.”
Meanwhile, the women’s alpine team got a boost from freshman Cate Kistler’s 16th-place finish in the slalom. Kistler was the top Crimson finisher in that event, with Nadler’s 19th good for second. Sheils, meanwhile, was on her way to a good run when she hooked a turn and took herself out of the race.
“She’s been skiing so fast,” alpine coach Tim Mitchell said. “Her results have not been indicative. I just feel really bad for her. It’s a bummer; sometimes it’s just how it goes.”
Nadler led the charge on the giant slalom with a 12th place finish. Mitchell noted that the flatness at the beginning of the course disadvantaged the small Nadler, especially with a stiff headwind.
“Not to make excuses, and I know she won’t make excuses, but it’s probably the worst course for her,” Mitchell said.
The finish put her second in points for the season behind the University of Vermont’s Kate Ryley, also a sophomore. Ryley won both the giant slalom and the slalom, and the Catamounts won their second straight EISA title in a row.
“If you’re going to lose to someone, [Ryley’s] the real deal,” Mitchell said. “She’s really, really good.”