UVM races to national championship
by Allen Lessels/
The University of Vermont ski team reached new heights with a record-setting performance to win the NCAA national championship in early March in Bozeman, Mont.
Usually dominated be Western teams, the college championships this year included a pair of New England schools in the top four. Vermont scored 832 points — most ever by an NCAA champ — for a record-setting margin over Utah (671), Colorado (670) and Dartmouth (590).
“It was an incredible effort by the entire team. They put together an awesome week to earn this,” said Bill Reichelt, Vermont’s director of skiing and head alpine coach. “The nordic team did an unbelievable job yesterday and set the alpine team up in strong position going into today.
“We had a great feeling going into the last day. The girls were conservative on the first run, but stepped it up for the second run. To finish 1-2-5 in the slalom at the NCAAs is pretty incredible.”
In the slalom, sophomore Kate Ryley set the pace early with a time of 43.76 in her first run and won with a two-run total of 1:35.17, 17-tenths of a second faster than teammate Kristina Riis-Johannessen.
Ryley is the first Catamount to win an individual title in the slalom since Gibson LaFountaine won back-to-back championships in 1993 and 1994. Ryley is the third UVM skier to win a slalom title at the NCAAs overall on the women’s side.
Elli Terwiel finished fifth overall and all three Catamounts were first-team All-Americans.
In the nordic events, senior Amy Glen won the women’s 15k classic in a photo finish and the women went 1-3-5 in the event. Senior Franz Bernstein added a third-place finish in the men’s 20k classic.
The title was Vermont’s sixth in the program’s history, but its first since 1994. The Catamounts also became just the second Eastern team to win the title over the past six years. Dartmouth was the last Eastern champ in 2007.
Next year, the NCAA championship return East and will be hosted by Middlebury.
The U.S. Freestyle Championships, featuring the record-setting Hannah Kearney, are due for a return engagement at Stratton from March 22-25.
“It’s really amazing to watch the heroes of the sport right here in our backyard,” said Jesse Mallis, a freestyle coach at the Stratton Mountain School. “It’s really, really cool.”
Don’t tell anyone, but Mallis said he may pull some of his students from their normal schedule of afternoon classes to check out what the best in the business are up to, up-close.
The entire spectacle is something to see, Mallis said.
“The venues are really awesome and well built,” he said. “The halfpipe itself is an amazing piece of technology. It will be Olympic-sized and all laser cut, so everything lines up perfectly straight.
Competition includes halfpipe, moguls, aerials and dual moguls.
Kearney, who grew up in Norwich, Vt., and graduated from Hanover (N.H.) High School just across the Connecticut River, has dominated the World Cup moguls scene the past couple of seasons.
The Olympic gold medalist won an unprecedented 16 consecutive World Cup events stretching from January 2011 in Lake Placid to February 2012 in Japan. The previous record for consecutive World Cup wins in any skiing discipline was the 14 consecutive giant slalom triumphs of Ingemar Stenmark more than three decades ago.
The ninth annual Wildcat Mountain 100k Day for the Make-A-Wish Foundation was held March 12.
The folks at Wildcat and Make-A-Wish stress that the day was a challenge and not a race. The task: Ski or ride 100,000 vertical feet in a single day, which works out to 48 runs on the Lynx Trail, which covers 2,112 vertical feet.
The folks at Wildcat do the numbers up this way: The Wildcats Express summit chairlift runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the event and it takes less than seven minutes to the top. The numbers crunchers calculate that leaves almost 4.5 minutes to compete each run.
Approaching the Big 4-0
A couple of the fun and challenging Attitash events in March are the 39th annual Red Parka Pub Challenge Cup on March 16 and the Attitash Open Golf Tournament on March 24.
The Red Parka race attracts New England’s top amateur racers to what is billed as the longest-running pro-style dual slalom race in the country.
The race, which benefits the Eastern Slope Ski Club Junior Program, offers various divisions, including one for competitors 70 years and older and another for Mount Washington Valley locals.
Ski tickets that day at Attitash are $40.
More details can be found at www.attitash.com.
The Attitash Open Golf Tournament is contested over a nine-hole course on the Spillway Trail and competitors take their shots while strapped into their skis or boards.
The entry fee is $25 per foursome.
The 27th annual Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation Ski-A-Thon, a fundraiser to support the organization’s free programs for adaptive skiers and riders, is set for March 24.
That same weekend, the Dumont Cup also returns to the Newry, Maine, ski area.
For the Ski-A-Thon, teams of up to five raise a minimum of $1,000 for the organization that was formerly known as Maine Handicapped Skiing. They then go about having a fun day for a great cause. Skiers and riders get breakfast, lunch and dinner, an event T-shirt, a goodie bag and a ski pass for the day of the event.
There are plenty of added incentives for individuals and teams raising more than the minimums.
A fun race, an obstacle course hosted by the Parrot Head Club of Maine and an activities tent offering demos of adaptive equipment are just a few of the other festivities taking place.
Details are available at www.sundayriver.com.
After breaking the quarterpipe world record in 2008, freestyle skiing superstar Simon Dumont came home to Bethel to start the Dumont Cup in 2009.
This year’s slopestyle event will be on the Sunday Punch and the Rocking Chair trail on Barker Mountain with a course designed by Dumont and Sunday River’s Terrain Park team. Once again the best amateurs and pros from around the country will compete in what Sunday River calls the biggest pro-am event in the world.
Tom Wallisch, Alex Schlopy and Nick Goepper have won the past three Dumonts.
More details are available at www.dumontcup.com.
Kudos to Tony
Tony Chamberlain, the New England Ski Journal’s estimable editor and fearless leader, was honored by the North American Snowsports Journalists Association for work that has appeared in these pages.
Chamberlain earned the Harold S. Hirsch Award for his column writing in New England Ski Journal.
Chamberlain and the winners of other NASJA awards were celebrated at the organization’s annual meeting in South Lake Tahoe.
Loon Mountain joined the ranks of ski areas boasting a superpipe when it opened New Hampshire’s first on Jan. 26.
Loon has a full array of terrain parks ranging from a Burton Progression Park up to the Loon Mountain Park. The superpipe is a 425-footer.
“Building the pipe is a huge commitment that takes a lot of man power and resources,” said Brian Norton, Loon’s terrain park manager in a release. “We give a lot of credit to our snowmaking and grooming team and we are stoked to have the first superpipe open in New Hampshire.”
Snow to spare
OK, so nobody really had snow to spare this winter.
But in the tried and true tradition of neighbor helping neighbor in New England, Cannon Mountain was able to lend a snowy hand when one nearby town and organization was coming up dry.
The fifth year of the Lisbon Vintage Snowmobile races, which are put on by the Lisbon Stump Jumpers Snowmobile Club, were in serious jeopardy because of a scarcity of the white stuff in late January.
Cannon helped save the day.
Franconia Notch actually had been getting some decent snowfall and the ski area had significant snowbanks after its parking lots had been plowed.
Thanks to Wallie Berry of Lisbon and others, a convoy of dump trucks got to work and made a bunch of trips from Cannon to Lisbon and the snowmobile races were a go.
“The help was certainly greatly appreciated,” event director Brad Gooden said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten the show in. They weren’t the greatest conditions and most of the week it rained and then it turned cold the night before the race and it got very slippery, but it held up long enough. It was entertaining. Most of the guys like it like that. It gets very rough, but the kids are young and tough and they can take it.”
There were about 170 competitors and perhaps 1,200 spectators came out to watch the vintage sleds that dated from 1968-73, Gooden said.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of New England Ski Journal.
Allen Lessels can be reached at email@example.com