Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 Alpine Season Preview

Canybody unseat the University of Vermont?  That seems to be the question heading into the 2014 EISA carnival season.  UVM, three-time defending EISA Champion, is coming off an undefeated EISA carnival season in 2013.  Vermont looks to continue their EISA dominance as NCAA All-Americans Kate Ryley and Kristina Riis-Johannessen return for the UVM women, and Jonathan Nordbotten returns for the men.  Riis-Johannesen finished third and second at the National Championships hosted at Middlebury College in the GS and slalom respectively, while Ryley finished fifth and sixth.  On the men’s side, Nordbotten took first place in the giant slalom and finished fourth in the slalom at the NCAA National Championships.

The most likely candidate to end Vermont’s EISA reign, would no doubt be Dartmouth.  Dartmouth placed second in every carnival last season, and were the only team to truly challenge UVM.  Sophomores Lizzie Kistler and Sara Kikut look to produce for Dartmouth after strong rookie years.  Kistler, a NCAA All-American in slalom, was honored as the EISA Rookie of the Year. Dartmouth’s women have the ability to contend with Vermont, however for Dartmouth to have success, there will also need to be top-level production from the men.

Middlebury and New Hampshire also have the potential to threaten UVM’s dynasty.  UNH returns seniors Sam Coffey and Coley Oliver who both placed well at the NCAA National Championships last March.  Having lost David Donaldson and Andrew McNealus after last season, Middlebury has a lot of ground to make up.

The remaining teams competing will be showcasing some familiar faces and some new ones as well.  Colby returns senior Jim Ryan as well as junior Craig Marshall.  Williams College has to try to find a way to recover after the graduation of several seniors.  St Lawrence University will likely rely on junior Graham Scott, who placed eleventh in the giant slalom at the NCAA National Championships.  Bates College puts forward a very young team with five freshmen.

The season is not a foregone conclusion, but has a definite favorite.  Whether this season becomes another building year for some of the teams or a surprise breakout, remains to be seen.  It will be exciting whether UVM keeps its crown or is unseated for the first time in several years.