When a sports team finds itself "under the microscope," it usually isn't a good thing. Most often it indicates that the team's personnel or effort has been called into question.
The Harvard skiing team, by contrast, would appreciate being under the microscope. Maybe that way, people would notice how much it has improved.
Although it remained near the bottom of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) standings in each of its four carnival meets this year, the Harvard Nordic and Alpine ski teams enjoyed a noticeably better season this year than it did in the winter of 2000. The finishes relative to such local powerhouses as Dartmouth, Vermont and Middlebury did not change, but the individual times and the group point standings were decidedly improved in comparison with last year.
Harvard surrounds itself with top-level competition in order to keep its skiers eligible for the NCAA tournament. The NCAA-driven schedule paid off this year for the first time since 1995, as freshman Anna McLoon qualified for the tournament at Middlebury College.
McLoon, a Minnesota native who anchored the nordic team in her first year of collegiate competition, finished 29th in the 5K at Nationals-ninth among Eastern skiiers-and 31st in the 15K.
But despite her impressive debut, there was more to Harvard Skiing than Anna McLoon.
The Crimson did not have the easy access to actual powder that its northern rivals enjoyed, so they continued log training hours at the nearby Weston Ski Track. In addition, the Crimson's annual local competition from the local powers in both alpine and nordic skiing includes some of the top skiers in the world.
"A lot of schools we ski against have former members of the US ski team on board," Harvard Alpine Coach Lisa Smyth said. "Or future members. We're fortunate in that we've got a very strong team, but it's like Harvard having several very strong golfers and going up against Tiger Woods every week."
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