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Harvard Battles Injuries, Old Trends

By Courtney D. Skinner, Crimson Staff Writer

If breaking up is hard to do, then breaking a trend might be even harder.

Starting off its season with another ninth place finish–its sixth in a row–the Harvard ski team is looking to move up in the ranks at this weekend’s UVM Carnival.

With new alpine coach Tim Mitchell taking over the reins, a revitalized program that boosts the Crimson’s level of competition and the addition of several talented freshmen, Harvard seemed to be on its way up.

But recent injuries to three freshmen on the alpine team–including standout Chris Kinner–have dealt the Crimson a serious blow.

“He was the top male recruit last year,” Mitchell said. “There were definitely a lot of people and college coaches from other teams looking at him, so it was kind of a coup when we got him to come to school here.”

During training, Kinner placed 15th at the FIS GS and landed a spot in second at the Dax Brown USSA GS in Maine, inspiring Harvard to increase its hopes for the year.

“I expected Chris to be in the top 15 in the league for sure because he was easily that good in some of the preseason races with guys from other NCAA teams competing,” Mitchell said. “He was certainly right in there and had pretty encouraging showing–some of the best results that a Harvard male has had in the last 20 or 30 years.”

But a hip injury sustained while practicing over reading period ended Kinner’s season before it started, keeping the recruit off the slopes until next winter.

“That put a dent in our season,” Mitchell said. “He’s on the mend, and he doesn’t need surgery, but he’s still hobbling around right now and is most likely done for the rest of the season.”

Freshmen Ellie Rubenstein and Rose Ruback, the alpine team’s number one and two female skiers, are also out for the remainder of the year. After coming in 47th in the women’s giant slalom and 41st in the women’s slalom at last weekend’s UNH Carnival, Rubenstein suffered a knee injury during training. Ruback reinjured her knee the day before the first competition at UNH, keeping her out of the starting lineup.

“There’s no indication of how Rose would have stacked up, but Ellie did okay for her first race in the East,” Mitchell said. “But she’s done for at least this season and potentially more for the extent of her injury. We don’t have a 100 percent diagnosis yet.”

Although the alpine team has not suffered such extensive injuries in recent years, skiing injuries are not uncommon, nor are they unexpected.

“That’s just the nature of the sport,” Mitchell said. “Skiing is a larger mechanism for injury than any other sport out there. It’s infinitely more difficult on your body than football, by far because of the speed.”

However, Harvard may have some difficulty bouncing back from these setbacks, as the alpine team’s top prospects are now banished to the sidelines–at least for this winter.

“We’re trying to rebuild and lay the foundation for building a more competitive team in the future,” Mitchell said. “We’re just trying to get up to par with what most of the other teams are doing with using portable timing and video analysis. We’re essentially rebuilding from the ground up.”

—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at cskinner@fas.harvard.edu.

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