Despite single-digit membership, the Harvard Nordic and Alpine ski teams registered solid individual results in the 1998-99 season and worked to ensure greater team success in future years. Competing in the 12-team Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA), the teams traveled to a series of carnivals throughout the northeast.
While Harvard has sent Nordic skiers to the NCAA championships in past years, this year the team finished towards the bottom of the circuit.
The squad faced low numbers and had many first-time racers.
"We weren't as strong an overall team this year as we've been in the past," Coach Matt Bellizzi said. "Our focus this season was more on individual improvement than worrying about how we placed as a team."
Captain Kellin King led the women's Nordic skiers throughout the year and was Harvard's highest finisher from either team, consistently registering top-30 finishes in many of the carnivals. King's best finish came at the Williams carnival, where she placed 25th in the pursuit race, a two-day event that combines results from classical and skating races.
"Kellin has over the last couple years proven herself as one of the top 25 skiers in the East," Bellizzi said. "Her Williams finish was among the best finishes by Harvard skiers in the past several years."
Freshman Kate Damon also turned in a solid year, providing a steady second finisher for the team scoring. In Nordic skiing the top three finishers from each team determine the team's overall standing. Damon's best finish came at the Vermont carnival where she took 37th in the 15-km classic race.
"Kate had some finishes that were very good for a freshman," Bellizzi said. "It puts her in position to move up considerably in the standings over the next couple seasons."
Newcomers Sarah Hashami, Bridget Sinnott and Emily Bolton achieved personal goals during the season.
"One of the benefits of a small program is that we're able to teach the sport to new people," King said.
On the men's side, captain Stanimir Metchev led a small Crimson team, followed closely by junior Stan Jurga.
"Stan Jurga showed vast improvement in his second year of college racing," Bellizzi said.
Despite the best efforts of this short-handed squad, Harvard was usually found at the bottom of the scoreboard. This was not for a lack of effort, however, as the team displayed hard work and enthusiasm throughout the year.
The Nordic team trains on rollerskis in the fall off-season, travels to a Weston golf course during weekdays in the winter, and is on the road every weekend after winter finals until mid-March. The team took a Christmas training trip to Quebec to get more on-snow time, as well as an intersession trip to Waterville Valley, N.H.
"It takes a lot of hard work, training throughout the summer and fall, to be able to compete in this league at all," Bellizzi said. "I have a lot of respect for the commitment and effort that all our skiers put in."
The Alpine team also faced low numbers in 1998-99, and struggled in the highly competitive EISA. Due to poor snow conditions the team was unable to train at Blue Hills Ski Area at all during the school week.
"We had a less than sterling season," Assistant Coach Samantha van Gerbig said. "But the team had undogged enthusiasm and it was a fun season."
Junior co-captain Peter Gage and sophomore co-captain Josh Mann led the men's team effort for the Crimson in the difficult carnival season.
Senior Lidia Salamurova, as well freshmen Cathy Chen, Kenan Stern and Kate Greer led the women's squad.
Coach Joe Harty retired after the season and his successor has not yet been named.
Low Numbers Dog Nordic, Alpine SkiersDespite single-digit membership, the Harvard Nordic and Alpine ski teams registered solid individual results in the 1998-99 season and worked
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