The snow is falling, and the ski season has begun for the Colby alpine and nordic ski teams. The nordic team was able to get some time on snow on the east coast over Thanksgiving break, while the alpine team traveled to Colorado for a week of training in the Rocky Mountains.
The nordic skiers are fit as ever and ready to pump their hearts out for the team. 'Everyone has trained hard over the summer and fall,' Captain Jennifer Bentrup '10 said.
The alpine team is also ready; both the men and women have undergone an intense fall conditioning program and the athletes are ready and eager to hit the slopes. 'Coach Danny Noyes has been pushing us hard. I am impressed with the way everyone was skiing in Colorado,' Captain Vincent Lebrun-Fortin '11 said.
Sam Mathes '10 and Bentrup are the lone seniors and captains on the nordic team. The two bring experience and leadership to a young team with high hopes for the season. The team also has a strong returning sophomore class, who are sure to help carry the team this winter.
The women's nordic team has five first-years. Molly Sulsa, Melanie Ross and Kaitlyn Bernard all hail from Maine, Kaitlin Zdechlik is from Colorado and Olga Golovkina is from Massachusetts. The men have two first-years, Jake Barton and Jared Supple who are both from Vermont. 'All of the first-years have the potential to make a big impact on the team this year, and they come in with more race experience and talent than I have seen before,' Bentrup said. Two women and three men graduated last season and will be missed in the carnival circuit.
The alpine team also sports two seniors, Josh Kernan and Dana Breakstone, who both qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships in past years, and hope to again this season. Lebrun-Fortin is a strong competitor in the carnival circuit and will without a doubt post impressive results this season. Kernan and Lebrun-Fortin both qualified for the NCAAs last year, and were named All-Americans. 'I know I have high expectations for them to do even better than last year, I hope, which is basically placing one and two at NCAAs and winning some carnivals here and there,' Breakstone said.
With eight first-years making up half of the alpine team, the team has a new depth that will certainly help improve team scores at carnivals. The depth generates competition within the team, pushing everyone to perform at a higher level. 'The newcomers want to get their spot on the carnival team, It is fun to see the competition within the team,' Lebrun-Fortin said. While adjusting to college ski racing is difficult, especially for skiers competing for the first time on the icy slopes of the east coast, the first-years are a talented crew of athletes with 'fresh blood' who are 'ready to ski well and put in the time,' Breakstone said. 'I think that's the biggest difference from last year.'
In recent years, Colby has made a name for itself in Division I ski racing as a force to be reckoned with in the New England ski racing circuit, holding its own against the dynasties in the east including Dartmouth College, University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire. This season, both the alpine and nordic men and women hope to qualify teams for the NCAA Championships that will be held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in March, where athletes will compete against the fastest college skiers in the Nation. In addition, both teams hope to win carnivals in the eastern circuit throughout the season.
While the teams have lofty goals, they are not unrealistic. 'With the returning talent and the addition of the first-year class I expect this to be our strongest team in my four years at Colby,' Kernan said. Lebrun-Fortin has a similar take on the season, 'Coming back from solid results at the NCAAs last year, as a captain, I think we have the potential to beat the strongest teams in the nation,' he said.
Members of the alpine team will head up to Canada this weekend for the first competition of the season although not collegiate races. The carnival season will kick off at Whiteface, New York, on January 15. Until then, think snow!