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Alpine Skiing Team Kicks Off Regular Season Weekend Races

Severe Windchill Temperatures Measured at -35º on the Slopes

By Jonathan Shefftz

The men’s and women’s alpine squads of MIT’s varsity ski racing team completed their first of five regular season race weekends. UMass hosted the race at Berkshire East (MA) on January 22-23. MIT was well-prepared for the collegiate season, having already trained for three weeks straight at Loon Mountain NH, and had competed four individual-based races.

The women hoped to retain their seventh-place standing from the 1999 season, but Babson College snuck ahead of them in Saturday’s slalom to leave MIT a step behind in eighth. Marcy E. Paul ’03 provided MIT’s top time, followed by captain Marianne H. Okal Jr. ’02 and Sarah M. Briggs ’03.

The men had a less successful day, nevertheless they still finished ahead of UConn to take ninth place. Co-captain Ryan D. Maupin ’00 provided the top time, followed by Jonathan C. Bates ’03, and co-captain Todd O. DuMond ’00.

MIT was even well-prepared for the gale-force winds and negative 35-degree windchill that greeted them Saturday morning, due to January training in the same arctic conditions. However, the wind still took its toll on some skiers, nearly blowing Lisabeth L. Willey ’02 backwards to a standstill. At the same time, the winds knocked Coach Jonathan Shefftz off the start ramp.

For Sunday’s giant slalom, the women expected to retake seventh from Babson, especially since Babson’s top skier is a slalom -- not giant slalom -- specialist. Unfortunately, Babson once again snuck ahead, this time by only half a second, or less than one-tenth of a second per skier per run.

The men had an even rougher time on Sunday, losing two of their top skiers. However, rivals St. Anselm and UConn had an even less successful day, allowing MIT to take eighth. Top three runs were made by DuMond, followed by Bates, and Jay J. Fucetola ’01.

MIT’s alpine squads compete in the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference’s Osborne Division, which contains the second-most competitive collection of NCAA teams in the Eastern U.S.: Boston College, Plymouth State, UMass Amherst, Smith (women), Babson, St. Anselm’s, Brown, Colby-Sawyer, New England College, and UConn. Since NCAA skiing competition is non-divisional, skiing is one of the few sports in which MIT competes against all Division schools.