Women's Hockey Alum Chosen To Represent Olympians

Published by Christina C. Mcclintock on February 26, 2010 at 10:10PM

Among casual sports fans, her name may not earn the immediate recognition of Bode Miller, Apolo Anton Ohno, or Lindsey Vonn, but when it came to selecting a representative, Olympic athletes chose Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04 of the US women’s hockey team, currently competing for a gold medal as I write.

Ruggiero was selected to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, which represents the concerns of athletes to the IOC.

The 2004 Patty Kazmaier Award winner, Ruggiero won gold with the team in 1998 in Nagano before taking silver with the team in Salt Lake City and bronze in Turin.

When interviewed by NBC after the first period, Ruggiero said she was “thrilled” to be selected to the 19-person committee. Ruggiero was selected for an eight-year term along with bobsledder Adam Pengilly of Great Britain.

The selection will allow Ruggiero to express the views of athletes in Olympic planning. But it won’t help her against Canada, which currently has a two-goal lead in the gold-medal game.

High Admissions Standards Hold Back Wrestling Program

Published by Max N. Brondfield on February 25, 2010 at 10:10PM

If one theme has characterized recent Harvard wrestling history, it has been individual success overshadowed by constant injuries that stifle team performance. Watching grappler after grappler go down can undoubtedly be frustrating, but co-captain J.P. O’Connor vented his frustration at a different source over the weekend, suggesting that the problem may not be how many guys go down, but rather how few there are to replace them.

After finishing the dual season a disappointing 2-14-1 with lopsided losses to No. 6 Cornell (44-6) and Columbia (30-15) last Friday and Saturday, O’Connor reflected on the difficulty of keeping pace in the Ivy League.

“When you’re sending out guys who aren’t necessarily your No. 1 guy, it’s tough to be competitive,” O’Connor said. “It’s kind of been a trend since I’ve been here. We don’t have the depth that other schools have. We need a little more backing, by which I mean admissions backing, to be a competitive program in the dual season.”

O’Connor—not often one to mince words—did not hold back here in his implication that the Crimson wrestling team suffers from the school’s stringent standards. Of course, holding talented applicants to rigorous academic standards is nothing new at Harvard, and it goes without saying that Crimson athletics would improve with more relaxed admissions cutoffs. Still, O’Connor’s remarks serve as a reminder that often the small sports are hit hardest, when each rejected potential team member represents significant depth lost from the roster.

Nonetheless, O’Connor and co-captain Louis Caputo make the situation seem far from hopeless. Regardless of the impact that “admissions backing” has on the team’s performance, clearly two of its stars could compete for any wrestling program in the country. As O’Connor (157 lbs.) and Caputo (184) stand at No. 1 and No. 6 in their respective weight classes, Harvard can look forward to two legitimate runs at the national title in March.

Three Players Selected for All-ECAC Teams

Published by Kate Leist on February 25, 2010 at 10:10PM

Three members of the No. 4 Harvard women’s hockey team were honored on All-ECAC teams, the league office announced this afternoon.

Junior forward Kate Buesser, junior defenseman Leanna Coskren, and freshman forward Jillian Dempsey all earned recognition for their efforts in conference play this season.

Buesser headlines the group, as she earned a spot on the conference first team. The winger was second in the league in scoring, tallying 32 points in 22 ECAC games. Buesser leads the Crimson with 35 total points this season on 13 goals and 22 assists, and she is tops in the conference with a +22 rating for the season. The junior was named a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award last week.

Coskren, a third-team selection, is also a Kazmaier finalist. The blueliner has 17 points on the season, including six goals. She is 18th in the nation amongst defenseman with 0.59 points per contest and anchors Harvard’s third-ranked defense.

Dempsey earned a spot on the conference’s All-Rookie squad after a season in which she ranked eighth nationally among freshmen with 0.79 points per game. Dempsey is second on the Crimson with 23 points this season on 10 goals and 13 assists.

In additional news from the ECAC office, senior Randi Griffin, the reigning conference player of the week, is a nominee for the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year award. Griffin scored four goals over the weekend, including her first career hat trick.

Harvard earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, which begins this weekend. The Crimson hosts sixth-seeded Princeton in a best-of-three series beginning Friday night. The puck drops at 7 pm at Bright Hockey Center.

Hockey Alumnae Square off for Gold

Published by Kate Leist on February 24, 2010 at 10:10PM

All five of Harvard’s 2010 Olympians will be playing for gold on Thursday.

Only two teams remain in contention for Vancouver’s top prize, and as predicted, the two-time defending world champion American squad will take on the favored Canadians in the gold-medal game.

As has become the norm in this Olympic tournament, Crimson alumnae featured prominently in both of yesterday’s semifinal wins.

In the early game, the US squad took on Sweden with revenge on its mind. The Swedes shocked the Americans in the 2006 Olympic semifinals, charging back from a 2-0 deficit to win the game in a shootout. It was the first time a US or Canadian squad had ever fallen to a non-North American opponent in international competition.

In 2010, the American women guaranteed that they would improve on their bronze-medal finish in Torino, routing Sweden, 9-1. With Swedish netminder Kim Martin, who plays for Minnesota-Duluth, not on her game, the door was open for the US offense—and the Americans capitalized.

Monique Lamoureux, who will suit up for the University of North Dakota next year, tallied a hat trick while all three Harvard players got in on the fun.

Caitlin Cahow ’07-’08 led the way with a goal—a long shot from the point that banked off the top right corner of the cage and fell in—and an assist. Angela Ruggiero ’02-’04 tallied the team’s third goal, while Julie Chu ’06-’07 assisted on Kelli Stack’s third-period score.

In the nightcap, the vaunted Canadian offense hit a bit of a roadblock: Finnish goaltender Noora Raty, who excelled in the crease for the University of Minnesota this season before joining her national team.

Raty held the Canadians to five goals on 50 shots, but Finland’s offense offered the standout no support, and the hometown favorites advanced to the final with a 5-0 win.

Sarah Vaillancourt ’08-’09 assisted on Haley Irwin’s goal, with the other assist credited to star Cornell forward Rebecca Johnston. Jennifer Botterill ’02-’03 was again quiet—the veteran has just one assist in these Olympics—but she will have the chance to earn her third-consecutive gold medal later this week.

The US and Canada will face off for Vancouver’s top prize at 6:30 pm EST on Thursday. The game will be broadcast live on MSNBC and

Crew Keeps Rowing

Published by Madeleine Smith on February 19, 2010 at 10:10PM

Almost any college athlete will say that his or her sport’s season lasts all year long no matter what the official schedule might say. Between the summer training, preseason exhibitions, weight lifting, conference games, and postseason tournaments, there’s little time left.

This is especially true for the Harvard men’s and women’s crew teams. Although they are officially spring sports, both train during the summer break, participate in fall races such as the Head of the Charles, and even keep competing throughout the winter months.

That said, the teams usually head to more hospitable environments to avoid Cambridge’s frigid temperatures and the frozen river. A training trip to Miami was a welcome excursion for the squads during winter break, and just last weekend some Crimson rowers headed to Boston University’s Agganis Arena to compete in the CRASH-Bs World Indoor Rowing Championships.

In the annual event, participants take to the aisles of erg machines lined up across the arena’s floor to individually sprint 2Ks against the clock. Although world-class rowers have set several records at the event, most competitors recognize that the indoor set-up is most likely not the best measure of how an athlete will fair in a real regatta.

With this dilemma in mind, some rowers have come up with another solution for what to do when their usual waterways freeze over: row on ice.

While the new technique isn’t exactly widespread, some rowing groups have pioneered newly designed “boats” especially for such practice. They have attached blades to the bottom of the boat and use ice picks in place of oars to help the boat glide smoothly across a frozen river or lake.

One Massachusetts man has even patented his own design that he describes on his website as a combination of elements from iceboats, bicycles, and rowing shells to create a vehicle powered by traditional rowing movements.

Harvard’s teams may not be adopting the novel idea anytime soon, but don’t be surprised if you see a daredevil or two trying it out on a nearby pond or even a still-solid section of the Charles.