Thursday, January 14, 2016

Champions and Newcomers Collide for an Exciting and Unpredictable Year on the EISA Alpine Circuit

As the Bates Carnival looms large, all factors point to a year full of potential. The usual suspects are still strong this year, and UVM still seem to be the team to beat. But with the inconsistent snow and lack of races over December along with a group of new faces and young guns skiing fast on the eastern FIS circuit, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the season will shape up.

Defending NCAA Slalom Champion Dom Garand is back for the UVM Catamounts, as are Rookie of the Year Will St. Germain and US National University Team members Sandy Vietze and Griffin Brown. Sophomore Laurence St. Germain, just off of a top-30 finish at the Aspen World Cup SL, will lead the women’s side along with senior All-American Elise Tefre, who returns from injury after a year-long absence. 

UNH looks to best its third place finish at last year’s Regional Championships with All-American Phillipe Rivet skiing well in the early season FIS races and Lisa Wesjoe and Randa Teschner aim to return to the big stage at NCAA’s in Sun Valley, Idaho. New Dartmouth women’s coach John Dwyer has a talented side with the likes of All-American Lizzie Kistler, Forest Peterson, and Libbie Gibson looking to repeat some impressive results last season. NCAA qualifiers Dylan Brooks and Kevyn Read are back for the men, along with US National University Team member Brian McLaughlin.

Beyond those three perennial performers, it’s hard to know who else will be leading the charge. There’s no question that defending national Giant Slalom champion Robert Cone and NCAA podium finisher Chris Mckenna will be leading a strong men’s team for Middlebury with Elle Gilbert setting the pace for the women. All-Americans Mardi Haskell and Sierra Leavitt are back for the Colby, with Mike Boardman leading a strong an upcoming men’s team. It’s a brand new look squad for the Williams women’s team as 6 first-years join the ranks, while captain Marc Talbot leads the Ephs on the men’s side.

Saint Michaels could be the surprise package of the 2016 season. First-years Guillaume Grand and Ella Dorval Hall have been showing some impressive results in the early season, and senior Brad Farrell returns for the Saints. If you ask anyone loyal to New Hampshire however, they will say that Plymouth State could also cause some ripples in the alpine circuit. NCAA qualifier Takehiro Watanabe is back, while Max Martin has been posting impressive times in the early season. First-year Freydis Halla Einarsdottir has also shown potential in early on for a women’s team also on the rise.

And still the stage remains open for discussion. Bates’ NCAA qualifier Kelsey Chenoweth returns along with a strong group of young Bates men.  Boston College, St. Lawrence, Harvard, and Colby Sawyer all have plenty of skiers who can make a name for themselves.

It’s pretty clear that this is going to be a year to watch and one that could shift from week to week, so stay tuned. It all starts on Friday, January 15 for the Bates Carnival Slalom at Sunday River.