MIDDLEBURY, Vt.--Ben Steele of Harvard placed eighth in the NCAA slalom at the Middlebury Snow Bowl Thursday with a two-run combined time 2.6 seconds behind winner Peik Christensen of the University of Denver.
Although Steele's finish was good in a highly talented field of 75 which included U.S. Olympian Bobby Cochran, the number one slalom skier for the Norwegian national team, Christensen, and members of the United States National Talen Squad, the Harvard junior had to remain disappointed with his performance in his best event.
Brian Vorse of St. Lawrence University raced to third, less than a tenth of a second behind runner-up Tom McGhie of Utah. David Dodge of the University of Vermont placed fourth. Steele defeated both Eastern skiers by over a second in the EISA slalom at Middlebury two weeks ago.
Threading the gates with characteristic quick-knee action and aggressive precision, Steele made minor errors on each run which precluded a chance at the top.
"I think I lost about a half a second on each run due to mistakes," said Steele. "Near the middle of the first run, I caught an edge and got off the line, so I had to make a jam turn to get back in the course and had to jump around the next gate pole. Near the finish, as the course flattened out, I lost some more time over-edging."
The course had been changed for the second run, and as he approached the steepest section, Steele said he "forgot where I was for a second" and "turned in the middle of a gate instead of on the pole which put me low for the next one."
Cochran, running for UVM for the first time this year after finishing the World Cup series in Europe, had worse luck. Third after his first run, the 19-year-old star was jamming the gates, slashing in a faster line, and knocking down several poles in a furious bid to overcome leader Christensen.
As the cheers echoed off the woods, approaching the largest cluster of spectators two-thirds of the way down the course, Cochran called his margin a little too close. One of his boots bounced off a pole and before he could correct his course he crashed into the next pole and fell. Still thinking of his UVM teammates, he climbed back up quickly to the gate he had missed and finished his run eight seconds off the pace.
Even without Cochran, UVM skiers placed first in the slalom standings. The first altogether with a third place finish