The Harvard skiing team will hit the slopes for the first time this season when the alpine racers compete in the Vermont Carnival this weekend. It will be the first time the Crimson has seen competitive action in over ten months, but a veteran core of returning skiers looks to get the 2013 season off to a solid start.
“Individually, everyone has just been working really hard in training,” said junior women’s captain Rebecca Nadler. “We are hoping to carry that [preparation] over to the races.”
Last year Nadler became the first Harvard skier in program history to win an individual NCAA title. The junior took gold in the giant slalom at the 2012 NCAA national championship held in Bozeman, Mont. Her two-run time of 1:41.82 edged runner-up Kate Ryley of Vermont by 0.4 seconds.
Nadler was one of two Crimson skiers representing Harvard at the NCAA championships. Nordic skier Alena Tofte, then a junior, had a strong finish with a 27th place showing on the 5k course and a 35th place finish in the 15k. The pair led the Crimson to a 15th place finish at the NCAA championships.
Earlier in the year, Nadler became the first Harvard skier to win an EISA downhill event when she took first in the giant slalom at the Williams Carnival. Nadler finished the regular season as the East Region’s second ranked female downhill skier in the event and was named to the All-East first team.
The junior will be at the helm of a veteran women’s downhill squad, which features five upperclassmen on its roster. First year Samantha Udolf is the lone newcomer to the women’s alpine contingent.
“The team has been very supportive,” Udolf said. “They’ve been greater role models for the younger guys, like myself and the other freshmen [on the men’s side].”
The Vermont Carnival kicks off the Crimson’s busy regular season schedule, which features seven carnivals in as many weeks, leading up to the EISA Championships. The Nordic skiers will see their first action of the season next weekend, when both the alpine and Nordic squads make their way to Lake Placid, NY for the St. Lawrence Carnival.
With the 2013 season about to start, Harvard looks to improve on its ninth place finish at last year’s EISA Championships.
On the men’s side, the Crimson saw the departure of Kevin McNamara, who was Harvard’s top finisher in the giant slalom at last year’s EISA Championships, finishing 56th in the final event of his Crimson career. Ian Anderson, then a sophomore, was the top Harvard finisher in the slalom with a 48th place finish.
Captain Andrew Spielvogel returns for his senior season after being sidelined by a shoulder injury towards the end of last season.
While the women’s alpine roster is full of upperclassmen, the men’s side features many new, fresh faces. Spielvogel and Anderson are the only returnees and will be leading a team that features five freshmen.
“We are really excited about the men’s team this year,” Nadler said. “They’ve been working really hard and have improved a lot.”
Despite falling a bit earlier than usual, the Vermont Carnival will give the Crimson the opportunity to put its offseason work to the test.
“Usually we have an extra week or so to prepare for our first carnival,” Nadler said. “We are all just [going to] try to do our best.”
Harvard will face some stiff competition including host Vermont. The Catamounts are the reigning national champions after running away with the title at last year’s NCAA championships. Vermont’s 832.0 point total eclipsed second place finisher Utah’s aggregate score by 161.0 points.
“I’m definitely looking forward to my first race,” Udolf said. “We’ve done a lot of training to prepare for our first carnival.”
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at email@example.com