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Alpine Skiing - Varsity Boys NEPSAC Class A Championships Top 5 Shawnee, ME SL/GS

Event Type: Regular
Advantage:Away

Date: February 12, 2014

Result: 
Score:See Write-up

Event Recap:
The Berkshire Boys and Girls Varsity Ski Teams ventured North this past Tuesday, to compete in the Class A private school championships, often referred to by the athletes with some degree of awe and reverence as simply, "The New Englands". The site of Shawnee Peak was named as the location for the Alpine Championship, located deep in the Mahoosuc Notch area of the Western Maine Mountains.  Shawnee, and the host school, Kents Hill, offered one of the finest school ski races in recent times, in which athletes were provided with full GS racing, in addition to steep, tactical slaloms.
In short, the New England Championships are a collection of the top private school ski teams in the East, containing a total of eighty-one teams vying for selection to this tournament.  The Class A's are the top of this field, in which all of the top competitors are distinguished athletes in USSA and FIS competitions.  
The format is simple; teams that qualify are asked to provide their top five athletes per gender, to compete in slalom and giant slalom disciplines.  For scoring, each team posts the combined times of their three fastest individuals, again by gender, in which place values are attributed to determine the overall team champion.  
In ski racing, athletes are placed close to the edge, often as a means to ski faster.  The closer one is to the edge, the more chances that exist for error and bad luck.
As dawn broke, our teams had been welcomed to the backwoods of Maine with -14 below temperatures, in which the sun offered surprisingly little warmth.  The morning races witnessed the Giant Slalom for the girls, while the boys competed in the Slalom.  
The Girls were led into the Giant Slalom by Captain Julia Slyer '14, who notched two strong and consistent runs to grab 4th Overall.  Annette Key '16 was next out of the gate, and fell victim to the course, lost a ski and was ousted from the competition.  Next was another member of our strong fourth formers Caroline Slyer '16, crushing both of her runs to finish seven tenths of a second behind her sister, landing her in 6th Overall.  Katherine Frick '15 followed suit, and finished in 19th Overall.  Molly Coleman '16, another member of Berkshire's "4th Form Storm", notched in at 24th. 
When the dust settled, the Bears' Girls Varsity won the Giant Slalom portion of the New Englands in which a mere eight points separated the top five teams!     
Over on the boys side, many coaches began to refer to this particular race as simply carnage.  The slalom course were set with precision, and offered a demanding track and tactical decisions.  In short, it was a great set, which demanded the best out of the athletes.  
Our boys were led by Nate Mackenzie '14, who skied both runs with an ease of dominance, smart elevated skiing and a quite calmly, which left him in 4th after the first run.  Nate was followed at the start by Bryce Schuler '15, in which the aforementioned issues took hold.  Bryce immediately ran into trouble, yet nevertheless hiked following his first, and his second falls, and although notching a 9th place in the 2nd run, Bryce finished in 58th overall.  Next up was Rawson Clough '17 skiing in his first New England Championships as a replacement athlete for injured teammate Tyler Smith '16, charged down the hill to end up being claimed by the demanding track near the bottom of the course.
Thus, requiring three finishers in which to score points, Captain Ian Rasmussen '14 and George Frick '14 had been called upon to provide the necessary ingredient.  And deliver they did, finishing in 11th and 12th respectively in the first run.  
Although dropping the boys into 4th, 11th and 12th, the boys had been strangely quiet, and somewhat humbled by the course that claimed so many of their competitors.  After landing in 4th after the first run, Nate calmly went about his task to finish the course, while watching those around him falter and exit the venue.  In the end, his smart approach to the courses paid off with team points, earning Nate and the boys team with a 2nd place finish.
Rawson, who fell in the first run, ended up hiking to claw up to 52nd place.  For the 2nd run, he calmly chose to clear his mind, put the 1st run behind him and regroup.  Rawson skied a very strong run and tactical approach to land him in 13th for the run (an awesome feat for a 3rd former let alone anyone in the competition), which moved him to 35th Overall.  His perseverance and inner drive will come into play later in the event. 
Rawson was followed by our strong 6th Formers, in which Ian again skied with brilliance and selfless determination to finish the course, and while Ian landed on the medal table, his 10th place Overall and gleaned his team with the necessary points to remain in the hunt.  Ian's bookend George, after finishing in 12th in the first run, provided a flat-out race run in the 2nd, yet following so many others, he too fell victim to the course meters of the finish. 
When the run finished, the boys collected themselves, performed the math from the scoreboard, and learned that our youngest skier (Rawson) provided the 3rd points necessary to keep the Boy's Team in the hunt! It was his decision to hike after his fall, which provided the overall place values to earn the necessary points which would be vital towards the outcome of their day.   
Thus, as the Boys and Girls switched venues for the afternoon, we were greeted by slightly warmer sun, and again great courses to challenge the athletes.
The boys mood between the events ran the gamut of emotions, in which many felt that the based upon the slalom, that the overall podiums would be out of reach.  Thus they attacked the Giant Slalom courses with a renewed vigor; seemingly skiing with pride and without the pressures to contain their skiing and finish a run.  
Bryce Schuler '15 was first out of the gate for our boys, and posted two very strong runs to land him in 8th Overall.  Nate Mackenzie '14 was next, and again skiing with a charge, fought his way to another podium spot, grabbing 2nd Overall.  George Frick '14 recouped from the mornings events, and posted two fast giant slalom runs that landed him in 18th Overall, and Berkshire's 3rd points.  Rawson Clough '17 hung tough and delivered a 23rd place, while Ian Rasmussen '14 fell in his second run. 
The boys hard work and strong skiing provided the Bears with the redemption necessary to claim the Overall Boys GS Team Title!  
Over on the girls side, we witnessed the depth, fortitude and resilience within our team.  As a whole, the girl's team, after hearing of the misfortune suffered at the hands of these courses by the boys, all skied the first run with a timid, if not careful approach to skiing.  Between runs, we'd conducted a team meeting of sorts, in which we discussed their goals, and desires within this championship.  To the letter, each girl mentioned that she harbored the reluctance to ski fast and close to the edge, seemingly in a method to mitigate disaster while perhaps letting their team down in the process. The question became, do you ski race, or simply ski?   
The answer was delivered in the second run and defined to the coaches that the Bears would not go quietly into that good night!  In the end, they all moved up anywhere from two to six places on the field, but more importantly, all really felt that they left it out on the hill, knowing they tried their best.  
Part of the "Forth Form StormAnnette Key '16 led the Bears to a 4th place finish Overall, completely dropping the hammer in her second run to secure her team points.  Annette was followed by Captain Julia Slyer '14, who posted the 8th fastest time in the Overall.  Our 3rd finisher was another member of the "stormCaroline Slyer '16, who knifed the tactical course to land in 15th Overall.  Our resident slalom expert Emily Barclay '15, took Katherine Frick's spot in the slalom and really delivered, grabbing 17th Overall in the field of 55 women.  Following a rough first run, storm member Molly Coleman '16 refocused, and moved up six spots to claim 27th Overall.
And from the slalom hill, the Girls wound up in 2nd Overall!  
The Awards Ceremony ran the gamut of surprise, elation, redemption and a wardrobe malfunction for one of our Captains.
The Girls grabbed 2nd Overall in both the Giant Slalom and in the Slalom, which earned them the 2nd Place Overall, behind a very gifted and strong Nobles team.  Individual medals were awarded to Captain Julia Slyer '14, Annette Key '16 and Caroline Slyer '16.       
The Boys, after finding trouble in the slalom in which three of our five boys fell, followed with a team win in the GS, that provided the necessary points to elevate the team to the podium, landing in 3rd Overall for boys teams.  Individual medals were awarded to Captain Ian Rasmussen '14, Nate Mackenzie '14 and Bryce Schuler '15.   
Great results for Bears Skiing; keep up the hard work and determination in the BSL Championships, and March racing!
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