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When it comes to skiing, some days on the hill are better than others. So went the season for the Harvard ski team, a young team that failed to reach previously achieved levels of national prominence but experienced various individual successes.
Junior co-captain Rebecca Nadler, who won the national title in the giant slalom in 2012, was the team’s lone representative in the NCAA Championships, marking the first time in three years that only one Crimson skier made the trip to nationals. Despite a late-season injury, she competed in both the giant slalom and the slalom but was unable to defend her title in the giant slalom, instead placing 18th. Nadler finished 23rd in the slalom.
Although Harvard entered the last race of the season, the EISA Championships, with four Nordic skiers with a chance at reaching the NCAA Championships, none of them qualified. Co-captain Alena Tofte had qualified for nationals the previous two seasons.
Despite not having anybody reach the national finals, Nordic coach Chris City ’94 was encouraged by the progress his team made.
“It’s certainly disappointing to not qualify anyone,” City said. “It was wrenching to come so close this year with so many athletes and not have anyone quite make it. At the same time, I’m proud of the depth we’re building.”
The Nordic team’s season was marked by several strong individual performances. Junior Chris Stock placed in the top 15 on four consecutive weekends, and sophomore Akeo Maifeld-Carucci raced to his first ever top-10 finish at the Colby Carnival.
Co-captain Anthony Ryerson posted a 41st-place finish in the 10K Classic at EISA Championships and just missed qualifying for NCAAs.
Despite losing out on nationals, the team had an otherwise successful season.
“The men’s team turned in the best performances we’ve had from our men’s team in over 15 years,” City said. “Our fourth-place finish at the St. Lawrence Carnival was our best men’s team finish in many years.”
On the women’s side, freshmen Emily Hanna, Annie Harvieux, Hanna Barnes, and Soren Anderson all made their mark alongside Tofte. Hanna paced the women’s team in many races, including a 10th-place finish in her first-ever college race at the Vermont Carnival.
The alpine team had some success but had difficulty breaking into the upper reaches of the standings due to its youth, particularly on the men’s side.
Because of the team’s youth and inexperience, the freshmen had to combat poor starting positions to finish. With more races under their belts, the skiers can accrue more international ranking points and improve their starting spots.
“Four out of the six male racers who would be competing were freshmen,” freshman Matthew Mansson said. “We didn’t have any points on the college tour, so we were all battling from the back of the pack trying to beat the odds and score some points for the team.”
Nonetheless, there were some bright spots for the alpine skiers. Freshman Simon Merryweather notched third-place finishes in both the slalom and the giant slalom at the Vermont Carnival, and co-captain Andrew Spielvogel earned fifth place in the giant slalom and sixth in the slalom at the same event.
Nadler may not have been able to defend her title in the giant slalom but still had a successful season, highlighted by a tie for first place in the giant slalom at EISA Championships. Senior Catherine Sheils, who qualified for NCAAs in 2011, had a season-best 23rd-place finish in the giant slalom at the Middlebury Carnival.
“Looking back on the season, we definitely outperformed all expectations,” Mansson said. “Thanks to some great mentoring from our captains Becca Nadler and Andrew Spielvogel, the team had a good season.”
Because of the youth of both the alpine and Nordic squads, City notes that the future appears bright, as the alpine skiers improve their starting positions and the Nordic skiers continue to progress.
“We have several exciting freshmen coming in next year, including one who was a multiple All-American at the junior level,” City said. “I’ll be looking for leading performances from my sophomores, juniors, and seniors. With the depth we showed, I’m confident that we’ll be back at NCAAs next year and for years to come.”
—Staff writer Justin C. Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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