CSC ski team looks to succeed in new conference

This year’s Castleton ski teams are undergoing a big change. They have moved from the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference Thompson Division to the ECSC MacConnell Division of the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association.

“Myself, Dale (Solotruck) and Deanna (Tyson) felt it was time to try to enter a division that would provide more of an athletic challenge to our athletes,” said co-head coach Chris Eder. “The MacConnell division is considered by many as the toughest division in the country.”

 There, the teams will expect tough competition from Babson College, Brown University, Clarkson, MIT, Saint Anselm’s College, University of Connecticut and UMass-Amherst.

According to a opening national poll, Castleton’s men’s team is ranked sixth in the country.

This year, the team returns 10 men and nine women from last year’s squad.

On the men’s side, Reed Drechsel, last season’s ECSC Thompson Division Skier of the Year and Castleton team MVP, is back along with Steven Zotter, Rob Burke, Bobby Jones, Brandon Cohen, and Connor O’Brien. All earned postseason honors last year.

“We have that core group of guys coming back along with eight new freshman,” said Eder. “It gives me hope that we will be competitive in the USCSA MacConnell Division.”

According to Eder, all eight of the incoming freshman are legitimate racers and should make an immediate positive impact on the team.

For the women, Amee Pierson, Ali Spencer, Erica Luce, Halie Roberge, Ali Nolan and Brianna Kullberg return to the team.  All six earned post-season honors last season.  In addition to those six, Michelle Podnecky, Corrie Keener and Courtney Donovan return to the team after sitting out most or all of last season with injuries.

“These nine women make us a competitive team,” explained Eder. “The addition of new faces should make them even more competitive.”

Senior Kristina Sundin, who earned postseason honors in the past two seasons will not be competing, but will be an assistant coach.

“Dale and I are excited to have one more coach on the mountain with us on training and race days.  She is very knowledgeable in regards to ski racing and is a true leader,” said Eder. “Her presence will definitely be an asset to both the men’s and women’s teams.”

Both teams are expected to be contenders for the top spot in the USCSA MacConnell Divison in the regular season.

“Winning the division would be great, but our real goals are to do well at the USCSA Eastern Regional Championships and qualify for USCSA National Championships,” said Eder. “I know that both teams have what it takes to get there and perform well.”