In one of the warmest winters on record the Vermont Ski Team continues to dominate the mountains. After coming in second place at last year’s national championships the Catamounts have gotten off to an unprecedented start this season.
“Coming into the season our expectations were for everyone to reach their own potential,” Director of Skiing and head alpine coach Bill Reichelt said. “All you can hope for is everyone to be skiing their best and let the results take care of themselves”
Through three carnivals this season Vermont has done just that. Entering this past weekend’s Dartmouth Carnival, UVM had yet to loose a carnival and had only trailed once.
Vermont has been winning with a balanced attack that is spearheaded by the Women’s Alpine team and their star, Jamie Kingsbury. The senior and three time All-American took home her second NCAA giant slalom title last year and is looking for another one this year.
According to Reichelt, “The women’s alpine is the strongest [team], and they have had awesome results. They have won each race as a team all year.”
But success for Vermont this year is all about balance. “It’s good to have all four components, alpine and nordic, men and women, all skiing well,” says Reichelt. “It’s good for moral, everyone is happy, and you gain momentum as each week goes by. [Balance] is vital for a good team score every week.”
Vermont hopes that this balance can lead them a step further then they were able to go last year. But in order to win that coveted national championship the team will have to overcome some obstacles.
This year’s national championship is being held in Steamboat Springs Colorado, home of the Colorado Buffaloes and the site of Vermont’s second place finish in 1993. In coach Reichelt’s opinion, “It’s tough going out there, racing in altitude, especially for the nordic.”
But he is not worried, saying, “We’ll go out there hoping for everyone to ski their best and we should be fine.”
Vermont has the top skiers in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA), led by Kingsbury and sophomore Greg Hardy.
In just his second year Hardy has already made a name for himself. Last year as a freshman he won his first event of the year at the national championships where he took home the title in the giant slalom and earned All-American honors is both GS and slalom.
So far this season Hardy has been on a tear, winning two out of the three GS events and taking third in the other.
The Cats have been hot all season but so has the weather. “The weather has been horrible,” said Reichelt. But it has not affected the team as much as some people might think.
“The conditions have actually not been that bad for the Alpine side,” Reichelt said. “With all the moisture and rain…and we have had enough cold temperatures to make a good hard racing surface. That’s what we look for. We hope to have ice.”
The nordic skiers, on the other hand, have been severely affected by the weather. In the Vermont Carnival at Stowe the second day of Nordic competition was canceled due to poor conditions and lack of natural snow.
Entering the Dartmouth Carnival, UVM skiers held six of the eight top spots in the EISA. Kingsbury and Hardy each hold the lead in giant slalom and slalom while senior Anders Osthus holds the top spot in Men’s freestyle nordic and junior Carina Hamel holds the top spot in Women’s Freestyle.
As the season winds down with the last carnival coming next week at Williams College, Vermont begins to prepare for the conference tournament and national championship. The EISA Championships will take place at the Middlebury Snow Bowl in Middlebury, VT on February 24th and 25th. And then the team will head out west to Colorado for the NCAA Championships that will take place March 8th to the 11th.