After a long autumn of dry-land training and preparation, the Bowdoin Nordic Ski Team participated in its first two races of the season at Sugarloaf and Lake Placid. At Sugarloaf over Winter Break, Leah Ricci '07 placed 14th in a classical sprint and Forrest Horton '08 was 29th in the 20k skate. Last weekend at Lake Placid, Jeremy Huckins also had a strong race in the 10k classical event, finishing 48th, in the top half of the field.
"We're no better or worse than I thought we'd be," said Head Coach Marty Hall. "Due to a number of defections and injuries, we're looking at a young and inexperienced team. I'm looking to Leah Ricci and Forrest Horton to bear the burden, carrying the team when it comes to front-line results."
Nordic skiing, Bowdoin's only Divison I sport, features racers skiing both up and down hills, with events that vary in distance and in technique. Each week, skiers race two times against the same schools and competitors at different venues. This year, Bowdoin's skiers will compete in races as long as 20k, or 13 miles, and as short as one kilometer, or about 3000 feet.
"We're building," said Hall. "I felt that we had left the building process last year, because we were going to have Eddie [Hunter '08], John [Hall '08, Forrest, and Huck [Huckins], four really strong guys right there. None of that. We're in a rebuilding process again." Hunter decided not to ski, while an injury forced Hall off the course. At Sugarloaf, rain and warm weather precipitated the relocation of the Nordic sprint to the downhill area, resulting in a tough, uphill course that took under three minutes to complete.
Both Ricci and Krysia Crabtree '09 skied fast enough in the preliminary sprint to qualify for the final heats, in which four skiers start simultaneously with the top two finishers advancing. Huckins also had a strong race in the preliminaries, finishing eight places away from qualifying for the final heats after a timing mix-up.
In the final heats, Crabtree was eliminated in the first round, but Ricci advanced to the quarterfinals. After an exciting race, which Ricci led at one point, she was overtaken in the last 100 meters and had to settle for 14th.
At Lake Placid last weekend, the Nordic events were held at the Olympic jumping complex because of a lack of snow, with both races looping around a two-kilometer course multiple times. Ricci, Huckins, and Horton again all had strong races. Nick Crawford '09 and Lana Mathis '08 also skied well.