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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Downhillers Focused on Finish Line

Author: Andrew Zimmermann
Sports Editor

By most definitions the 2000-2001 campaign for the Middlebury alpine ski team was a success. Not only did the team finish seventh overall in Division I, they played gracious host to the nation's top teams at the National Championships held at the Snow Bowl in March 2001. During the carnival season they continually finished right behind perennial powerhouses Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont. This year the team is poised for success as both the men's and women's sides will not lose one carnival racer from last year. The team's relative youth from a year ago has become its experience for this season as it tries to challenge the juggernauts at the top.

On the women's side, Sarah Brophy '02 returns for her final season to lead the Panthers as the team's captain. Kelly Lauter '02 is the other senior presence who will help with leadership duties. The supporting cast will feature some young, notable contributors from last season, namely Brie Pike-Sprenger '04 and Laura Scripture '04. As a first-year last season, Scripture performed admirably on the NCAA championship stage. Among the four first-years on the squad, Jessica Smith looks to contribute in the upcoming carnivals as well.

Over holiday break the alpine ski team trained in the old stomping grounds of the McConathy brothers. Both Chad McConathy '04 and Will McConathy '05 will bring a unique dimension to the team as they have lived and trained out West for years. One of the challenges for the younger McConathy and other first-years such as Derek Shields, John Rusten and Jim Cochran will be the change over from a high school season to the carnival season. "The college season counts more," said C. McConathy. "The season is condensed into about two short months."

The younger skiers will no doubt have a good example in leader and captain Fred Coriel '02. Coriel skied well in last year's NCAAs and was accompanied by another veteran Eric Rygg '03 who really blossomed last year and emerged as one of the team's most consistent racers. Tyler Conrad '02 will most likely figure in the carnival line-up as it is still yet to be determined with the first race of the season upcoming at Whiteface Mountain for the St. Lawrence Carnival. Fred Emich is also a solid sophomore who looks to help out.

Although ski racing may seem an individualized sport, the Panthers are first and foremost a team Each racer is accountable for his or her performance and both the scores from the men's and women's sides are counted and totaled at the end of the carnival to determine the placing of the team. The season is composed of six carnivals and the National Championship held at the beginning of March. Starting next week the team embarks on a rigorous two months of intense competition that will culminate in two races, the national slalom and the national giant slalom finals.