The alpine ski team is moving on to compete at the Eastern Regional Championships this weekend after the women’s team won and the men’s team came in second in the Reynolds Division, which is made up of Bowdoin, University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine, Colby and Bates.
According to captain Grace Mallet ’18, an increase in experience and numbers has contributed to the team’s success this year. The team has almost 30 people attending practice daily, compared to 15 when Mallet was a first year.
“The season went really well, better than it has ever gone before,” Mallett said. “I think we have come a really long way since I was a freshman. We got a lot of new freshmen this year, who have had a lot of previous race experience which was something that was unprecedented.”
In addition to the influx of new members, there has been an increase in female skiers in particular, according to captain Emma Landes ’19.
“Since my first year, the numbers have changed so much,” Landes said. “The experience has grown and the amount of women has grown, which is so cool to see.”
This season, the team’s coach is pregnant, so the club’s captains have stepped up to facilitate practices.
“I would go to practices early most days to set the courses and would take a couple runs before people got there,” captain Kyle Polson ’19 said. “I would try my best to watch people from the lift and give them some feedback. I work over winter break as a part-time ski coach, coaching some younger kids so I have a pretty good idea of what to look for and give good feedback for people that may not have had the biggest background in racing.”
“There were four captains and we organized practices,” Mallett said. “A lot of people on the team have race experience, so we all learn from each other.”
Although skiing experience is suggested, the club welcomes any student interested in trying out racing.
“It’s definitely good to have a background in skiing,” Polson said. “At the same time we definitely have people who have never ski raced before and end up doing well on the team. One of our athletes that we are taking to regionals has never ski raced before. It will be interesting to see [what happens] as the team is expanding, but at this moment we are accepting memberships from anyone [who wants] to try out the sport.”
Like Polson, Mallett is curious to see how the team further evolves as it continues to grow.
“In the past it has been if you can ski, sign up,” Mallett said. “I think we still want to maintain that culture and that inclusivity. I think the beauty of alpine ski team is that it’s a place where everyone is welcome and an open space, where a lot of different people can come together and get to know people. But with the new influx of experienced skiers it is starting to seem like it’s going to start to become more of a heavily racing team.”
Polson said that the regional championships this weekend will be different than previous races.
“I have gone the last two years as an individual,” Polson said. “There is definitely some stiff competition [to place] in the top four teams, which are the number of teams [that advance to] nationals. The winning team from our division placed fifth at these championships last year, so they [did] not qualify for nationals. [But] I think we have a stronger team than they did so … we will at least be in the running.”
This will be the first time that the club sends a team to the championships rather than individual racers.
“It’s hard to tell because we have had individuals go but we have never had a full team go and score as a team,” Mallett said. “So I think we are all wondering. I know it will be a lot more competitive than we are used to but I am hopeful that we will do well.”
According to Landes, regional championships are a good opportunity to race against new people outside the Reynolds Division.
“No one really knows what to expect. We are just really excited to be there,” Landes said. “We love our division, but we are excited to see some new faces.”
The team will compete at the Eastern Regional Championships this weekend. The top four teams will qualify for the national competition at Lake Placid, N.Y., which begins on March 4.