New England Class A Alpine Ski Championships
Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, VT
The Bears’ varsity ski teams were filled with both enthusiasm and uncertainty as they looked forward to their first-ever Class A Championships this year. They knew they were good, but as their regular season pitted them against Class B teams they knew well and were used to surpassing, the Berkshire skiers had little idea what kind of challenges the tougher, Class A teams from across the region would pose, since in Brigham Ski League, there are only two Class A teams. Some of the best skiers on those teams—from Deerfield Academy just north of us to Kents Hill in faraway Maine—participate in the USSA (national) and FIS (international) races in which our own top athletes compete, so the Bears knew they would be up against some of the best prep-school skiers in the region.
In the end, both boys’ and girls’ teams showed extremely well, with the boys finishing second (58 points) in the field of 16 teams behind Belmont Hill School (42) and ahead of Deerfield Academy (77), and the girls finishing in fourth (61 points), just two points out of second and third-place tying teams Noble and Greenough (59) and Northfield Mount Hermon (59). We are very proud of this achievement, exceptional in a team’s first year at the Class A-level. The girls also won the slalom event (24), edging Nobles (25) by one point.
There were also several individuals on our teams who made the top ten, and thus received a commendation from NEPSAC skiing. On the girls’ side Elise Chauvel ’15 took 3rd in the slalom, followed by Eliza Stitcher ’16, who faltered a bit on her second run after being right in line with Elise, in 6th , and Annette Key ’16 in 13th. Annette’s finish was especially notable. Dead tired at the end of the day, when the last slalom run was lining up, Annette worked with her coaches (and some high-sugar snacks…) to pull out an outstanding finish. The top three places for each team count, so Annette’s performance helped lift her team to slalom victory! Julia Slyer ’14 finished in 17th and Katherine Frick ’16 finished in 24th—in a field of 58 skiers total. In the giant slalom race, Eliza Stitcher ’16 grunted and shouted her way to a hard-fought 2nd place medal on the long, grueling course. Elise Chauvel ’15 took 12th, Julia Slyer ’14 took 23rd, and Katherine Frick ’16 took 27th—again in a field of 58.
On the boys’ side, Captain Jackson van Zon-Borwick ’13 took the 3rd-place medal in the slalom, followed by Ian Rasmussen ’14 in 12th and Nate MacKenzie ’14 in 13th, then George Frick III ’14 in 42nd, and Bryce Shuler ’15, who disqualified. It was a hard-fought race, with each of the top nine finishers a FIS-qualified skier. In the giant slalom event, however, the results were truly special. The first run left our skiers scattered across the field of 77 athletes; however, before the second run the team pulled together under senior leadership to ski as a team, mixing aggression, fortitude, and safe-finishing. This meant, at the end of the day, the boys finished the race with Nate MaKenzie ’14 in 8th, Jackson van Zon-Borwick ’13 in 9th, and Ian Rasmussen ’14 in 13th, leading to a second-place finish in the GS event, 20 points ahead of third-place finisher Noble and Grenough. Bryce Shuler ’15 was just behind Ian in 14th, and George Frick III ’14 finished in 25th. Though ski racing is in many ways an individual sport, the boys really showed what can happen when athletes pull together to support and encourage each other.
In fact, teamwork was evident everywhere. From Julia’s continuing to ski on a sore knee that required icing the whole day to Jackson’s somehow finishing the 2nd run of GS after his hip lock, from Katherine’s battling back from falls and hiking rather than quitting in order to get a team finish to her brother George’s dong the same. All in all, team spirit shined through the challenges and adversity.
With these results, we feel secure stating that Berkshire Skiing has arrived on the regional (and perhaps, due to the region’s competitiveness) national stages. The program continues to expand and deepen, working with the Admission Office to attract more strong skiers who are looking for just the right balance of academic and athletic excellence.
Next week, we conclude the school season with the SL championships at Ski Sundown, in New Hartford, CT, on Wednesday. The full varsity complement of eight skiers per side will compete. Thereafter is the USSA post-season—details to follow!