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Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Fair

Despite Weather, Skiers Finish in Third and Fourth

By Jiri Schindler
team member

The cross country skiing team placed third in 18-kilometer classical race and finished fourth in 3x5-kilometer freestyle mixed relay this past weekend in a meet at Prospect Mt., Vermont.

The meet was the first hosted by MIT in the mideastern conference of the United States Collegiate Ski Association and the second meet of this season. MIT will host another meet in two weeks at the same location.

The unpredictable New England weather nearly caused the cancellation of the meet on Friday as the temperatures were still in the 40s and the course had barely four inches of old and slushy snow. Luckily, on Friday night the temperatures dropped into upper 20s, and overnight the course received two inches of fresh snow.

The snow, however, changed to rain in the early morning as temperatures rose to 45F, and the women's 12-kilometer classical race started at 10 a.m. during a heavy shower. Despite these dreadful conditions, the race course was well prepared.

Katie Johnson from Clarkson University won the women's 12-kilometer classical race in 0:58:48. MIT's Lynn Cornell '96 finished 10th with a time of 1:13:41, and Rebecca Metrick '98 finished 21st out of 24 racers in 1:44:32 in her first skiing race for the MIT team. Their results however did not count for the team standings because USCSA rules dictate that a team must consist of at least three skiers.

The men's 18-kilometer race started an hour after the start of the women's race and was won by Timothy Gorbold from Alfred University in 1:10:51. The first MIT skier to cross the line, James Berry '99, who also skied in his first race for MIT, placed 13th with a time of 1:24:20. Berry was followed by his teammate Jeff Doering '99 who finished in 1:24:23. The third MIT skier, Jiri Schindler G, finished 16th with a time of 1:26:59.

Overnight, the weather did not tease the racers as the temperature dropped into high teens, making the course very icy on Sunday. "I tried some of V2 [technique], but it was very slippery and Iwas afraid to lose my balance and fall," Cornell said of the icy conditions of the course.

Cornell University won Sunday's 3x5-kilometer freestyle mixed relay was with a time of 62:18. The MIT relay was led off by Schindler who at the last minute replaced Doering, who developed a stiff right knee in Saturday's classical race and decided to rest his knee. "My knee got really stiff in the second and third loop yesterday, but Ithought it would be all right skating," Doering said after declining his spot on the relay team.

The second leg was skied by Berry, and Cornell was the anchor for the team. MIT finished fourth with a time of 75:13 behind Clarkson, Cornell, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Team emerges from uneasy start

The cross country skiing team had an uneasy start this season. After former coach Dave Michael retired, the team was without a coach and the future of the team was in jeopardy.

But through the efforts of the team members and Candance Royer of the Athletic Department, MIT hired an assistant coach Steven Bull '91, who raced for MIT in his undergraduate years and was at one point among the top 25 skiers in the Unites States.

The team also received two new members- Berry and Metrick - who both ran for the MIT cross country team in the fall. Berry had already skied in high school while Metrick only started to ski during training camp in Canada. In mid-January, the team headed to a ski camp in Mont St. Anne in Quebec, Canada, which was supposed to be the ski arena for the Quebec 2002 Winter Olympics.

After nine days of intense training and technique work under the guidance of Bull, the team headed to Prospect Mt., Vermont for its first race of the season, which was also the first meet MIT ever hosted. Hosting went smoothly thanks to the experience of Bull, the hospitality of the Prospect Mt. personnel, and the help of former team members of Adrianne Slaughter '98 and Jeff Breidenbach '96.

Weather permitting, the team is heading this weekend to Alfred University's course near Rochester, New York and will return to its "home" course at Prospect Mt. on the weekend of February 8.