Harvard alpine coach Tim Mitchell didn’t know exactly when the last time a Crimson alpine skier reached the podium, but he estimated that it was sometime during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. That changed on Friday when sophomore Rebecca Nadler took second place in the giant slalom.
“Clearly that’s fantastic,” Mitchell said of Nadler. “I’m very pleased, but I’m not surprised. She’s been skiing very well. I thought it was more or less a matter of time.”
“I was obviously really happy,” Nadler said. “I’d been feeling good...I felt like I brought over the things I’d been doing in training.”
Nadler’s finish led the women’s alpine team to a fourth-place finish in the event and was the highlight of a weekend in which the skiing team finished ninth overall at the Vermont Carnival, held at Stowe & Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. While the sophomore led the charge, strong finishes from freshman Cate Kistler and captain Caroline McHugh, who took 25th and 27th respectively, also lifted the Crimson squad.
The weekend’s performance marked the best finish of Kistler’s young career. McHugh, meanwhile, has been a reliable performer for the Crimson throughout her time with the team.
“It’s been super exciting for me to see the team get so much stronger,” McHugh said. “Just watching the progress has been really awesome. It’s super exciting to show people that the Harvard team is something to be reckoned with.”
While the Crimson women’s alpine team was unable to replicate its team-wide success in the slalom event and took seventh, Nadler continued to shine with a sixth-place finish, the highest the skier has ever taken in a slalom event.
“It was a very challenging course,” Mitchell said. “She skied very well; she skied very tactically smart.”
Nadler arrived at Harvard as a skier who specialized in the giant slalom, but she has continued to improve her performance in the slalom throughout her time with the Crimson.
“We’ve been trying to take what she does well in the GS and move that into the slalom,” Mitchell said. “The events are fairly different, so it’s not always a super straightforward transition.”
“I kind of kept it simple,” Nadler said of the slalom. “I don’t know if there was one big change.”
While Nadler thrives in difficult conditions, Saturday’s slalom races proved perilous to many. Nadler and freshman Liz Strong were the only members of the team to finish the race. Strong took 19th.
“It was just a lot of tough hills,” Mitchell said. “I thought everybody had some pretty good turns here and there. I thought everyone attacked really well.”
The men’s field was similarly set back by the tough conditions of the course.
“More than half of the men’s field didn’t finish,” Mitchell said of the slalom. “The number of crashes…was pretty staggering. It was extremely, extremely challenging. Everyone kind of sensed that you could either ski really safe and hope that because people were crashing you’d have a good score, or you could say, ‘If I really go for it and make it down the hill, I’ll do really well.’ The guys went for it and it unfortunately didn’t work out for them.”