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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

First-Years Fast Out of Gate For Alpine Ski Team

Author: Andrew ZImmermann

With the snow dwindling, the Middlebury ski team is making the most out of the conditions including a familiar third place finish at the Bates Carnival after a fourth at St. Lawrence the week prior. This year's alpine team, however, has many new faces and the results, in just the second week of competition, are starting to come.

At the St. Lawrence Carnival on the Olympic mountain at Whiteface, the alpine team skied hard to garner a third-place result amongst the alpine teams. Leading the charge in the giant slalom (GS) was Laura Scripture '04 picking up right where the impressive sophomore left off last year. Her supporting cast consisted of Nina Porcelli '04 who backed Scripture's sixth-place with a ninth-place result of her own. Captain Sarah Brophy '02 crossed the line in 1:10.32 good enough for 14th. In the GS on the men's side first-year phenom John Rusten battled to a hard-fought fourth with Eric Rygg '03 in support finishing seventh.

In the slalom first-years John Rusten for the men and Lea Davison for the women stood out with top 10 finishes. The two were also a part of the strong showing at the Bates Carnival held at Sunday River.

The Bates Carnival also saw the emergence of Jessica Smith '04 who missed all of last year with a broken leg and was skiing with the Panthers competitively for the first time Saturday at Sunday River. "It was nice to finally get back," Smith said. After a year of rehabilitation Smith's results were more than "nice" as she leveled the field in the women's slalom including Shaina Mulkern and Alexandra Krebs of UVM, both NCAA hardened competitors.

Smith also went on to a ninth-place finish in the GS, an event she has had little time to train for given her broken leg. "I actually ski GS better than slalom," said Smith, "with more training I will feel more comfortable out there." Smith continues the road to full rehabilitation and the training progresses. When asked of the expectations for her this year she said, "Coach Smith knew my ability before the accident and expects the same of me now after."

The lift Smith gave the team was also mimicked by another skier new to the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association (EISA), Jimmy Cochran '05. The impressive first-year with strong skiing roots made a splash by finished second in the GS ahead of big guns like John Minahan from UVM and Kyle Hildebrand of Bates. He nearly had a repeat performance in the slalom by finishing third. His partner in crime was rookie skier John Rusten who carried the men's squad in the St. Lawrence Carnival just the week before.

Not to be lost in all the first-year revelry were Tyler Conrad '02 and captain Fred Corriell '02 who finished 12th and 10th respectively in the slalom. Conrad also tacked on a 15th in the GS.

On the women's side Scripture was again the model of consistency with a third in the GS and an 11th in the slalom. Brie Pike-Sprenger '04 continued as she did last year, picking up crucial points by placing 15th in both disciplines. Davison, fresh off last week's strong finish, cruised to eighth position in the slalom at Sunday River.

As Smith conveyed, Coach Mark Smith has the confidence in both her and everyone on the team that they can step up with string finishes throughout the season. Next week brings the UVM Carnival at Stowe, a familiar mountain to the Panthers and another opportunity to challenge UVM and Dartmouth at the top.