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Alpine Skiers Close Out Season with Good Race Performances

By Jonathan S. Shefftz
Team Coach

The men's and women's alpine squads of the varsity ski team closed out their regular season this past weekend at Berkshire East with some strong performances. The men tied for seventh in the cumulative team standings and the top MIT woman took 21st in the cumulative individual standings.

Smith College hosted this final regular season race at Berkshire East, near Greenfield, Mass. The women entered the weekend only two points out of eighth place, behind Division II St. Anselm's College but ahead of the University of Connecticut and New England College. The men were tied with New England for seventh place, ahead of St. Anselm's and UConn.

Saturday's short but deceptively challenging slalom course claimed its first victim when captain Brooke Baker '99 hooked a tip on the third gate and went on a brief spin-'n'-hike excursion. She nevertheless still managed to provide MIT's top finish, with the other scoring times from Monica Taylor '01 and Chrissy Hartmann '98. The team managed to finish ninth, behind St. Anselm's.

Kurd takes 30th for men

Co-captain Dave Kurd '98 led the men for 30th place, and co-captain Ryan Maupin'00 looked to finish right behind him with an even faster second run until he went too straight at a difficult "hairpin" combination and crashed right above the finish. The other four scoring times came from Brett Vasconcellos '99, Jeremy Gerstle '99, Todd Dumond '00, and Dan Zelazo '99. MIT finished a disappointing ninth while New England finished seventh, putting MIT two points behind New England in the cumulative standings.

For Sunday's giant slalom, Baker took 20th, followed by Taylor in 39th, and then Hartmann. Despite this solid skiing, the women were still in ninth, only 0.23 seconds per person per run behind St. Anselm's, and similarly finished ninth for the season in the cumulative standings. Baker finished 21st in the cumulative individual standings.

The men's race featured some unusual interferences. Kurd called for a hold on course as another racer's helmet inexplicably careened down the race hill. Even more inexplicable was the appearance of a errant pair of skis in the course as Maupin took his run; fortunately, he was able to hop over the skis and thus avoid a collision, although he was forced to stop his run. Also fortunate was the fact that the firm snow held up while Maupin took the chairlift back up for a rerun.

Disasters plague course

Far less fortunate was another team's racer, who was entering the final, fast pitch above the finish when a squirrel or chipmunk ran across the course. The skier lost control and crashed through the protective netting by the side of the trail in a scene strikingly reminiscent of the Austrian Hermann Maier's spectacular crash in the men's downhill in Nagano.

The collegiate competitor went on to collide with the snowmaking pipeline on the other side of the netting and broke the cap off a hydrant, sending cold water 100 feet into the air in an uncontrolled geyser. After a long hold on course, the skier somehow managed to walk uninjured into the lodge, where a thunderous round of applause greeted him.

The men raced through all these distractions for their best skiing of the season. Kurd took 21st and Maupin 32nd, with the other three scoring times from Dumond, Vasconcellos, and Gerstle. The men took sixth, ahead of Babson College, New England, UConn, and St. Anselm's. Moreover, since the men finished two places ahead of New England, they reversed the previous day's deficit and end the season tied with New England for seventh place in the team standings. Kurd also finished 35th in the individual standings.

The team wrapped up the season with one final post-race free run which turned into an all-out straight-down tuck run of the now-empty race hill. Halfway down the hill, virtually the entire Berkshire East Ski Patrol emerged.

Congregating in the base area with an enraged Ski Patrol most probably in hot pursuit, head coach Jonathan Shefftz decided that one more team run was called for.

Except this time, even faster.