The Radcliffe ski team began its Division I career by tying for ninth place with St. Lawrence College at last weekend's 12-team Championship at Pat's Peak in New Hampshire.
Middlebury emerged as the champion of the Eastern Intercollegiate Women's Ski Association, with Dartmouth, Williams and Vermont rounding out the top four spots in the final meet of the season.
Elinor Apthorp, consistently the highest Crimson finisher in cross-country races this year, spent the weekend nursing a case of tendonitis. "The team would certainly have finished seventh with Elinor," coach Steve Graham said yesterday.
Vera Fajtova led the Radcliffe point-getters as she has all winter with a 13th place finish in the giant slalom and a 17th in the slalom race.
The next-highest Crimson finish was turned in by Lenny Wilson, who finished 35th in the slalom and 42nd in the giant slalom.
In order to qualify for a place in Division I, each team has to finish three skiers in the cross-country race. Because of the absence of Apthorp, alpiners Karen Linsley and Fajtova were pressed into action for the seven kilometer event. They finished 42nd and 46th respectively.
Judy Rabinowitz had the best Radcliffe finish in the cross-country race, placing 16th.
Rabinowitz is a freshman and a former competitor in the Junior National competition. "When I came to Harvard I thought I would be giving up my ski career," she said last night.
Things have not turned out badly for her though. Coach Graham credits the cross-country racers for pulling the team out of Division II this season, and Rabinowitz consistently finished in the top ten every weekend.
"Judy and Elinor have had to do it all on their own, because I know very little about cross-country," Graham said.
Rabinowitz says she does not mind staying in shape on her own, and hopes that the promotion to the tougher division will increase interest in skiing as a sport at Harvard and Radcliffe.
"There are a lot of good female skiers in the freshman class who didn't compete this year. Hopefully our being in Division I will make it more attractive to them since it is better organized and has better skiers," she said.
Graham feels that fifth place finishes next year are not out of the question if some of the idle skiers compete. "We can't hope to overtake the top three, though. With the money they put into skiing and the people they bring in, they'll be up there forever," he said.