Both men’s and women’s nordic skiing have been dominating this entire season, carrying last year’s success into 2020.
The men topped the country last year, bringing a national championship back to Castleton. This year, they are currently undefeated heading into regionals.
The women have only one loss this season following a fourth-place finish at nationals in 2019. Senior Adi Toof is excited for the potential of the team this year.
“This is without a doubt our strongest team. We only have five skiers, but the five of us are top skiers every race. It’s rare to have an entire team in the top ten and we have done it a couple of times which is great,” she said.
Meanwhile, senior Dave Harvey of the men’s team is ready to carry on the magic from last season.
“Last year’s success was a first for our program, so it was a big affirmation that we are on the right track. Heading into nationals this year, we are all ready to put up a fight,” he said.
And both teams sure have been fighting hard this year. At their latest race this past week at the Mansfield Division Championships, both the men and women finished in first overall in the team sprint relay.
In the 15k classic, the women placed four skiers in the top six. Megan Greene and Molly O’Callaghan took the top two spots. Toof and Emily Greene, Megan’s sister, finished in fifth and sixth place respectively.
“This weekend went really well. The classic distance was a big stressor for us because a 15K is a big race when we have been racing roughly half that distance all season, it’s definitely a jump,” she said.
The win clinched the first ever division title for the women.
Senior Megan Greene has been leading the way.
“This was huge for us as a team, we went from never having won a race to winning all but one race this season,” she said. “We all hope that this will bring more skiers here to keep the program moving forward.”
As for the men, three skiers finished in the top-10 of the 15k classic. John Henry Paluszek won the event, followed by Andrew Doherty in second. Devin Perry was close behind in fifth place.
Paluszek, who helped lead the men to their second straight division title, spoke highly of his team’s performance thus far.
“I know that there was a lot of expectations going into this year,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we continued that, so the team kind of buckled down.”
Multiple members of the team lauded the hard work and dedication that Castleton Nordic skiing puts into continue to reach this level of success.
One of which is team coach Marty Maher.
“After the success they had last year, they just wanted to continue with that progress,” he said. “Three of the women stayed in town over the summer and worked out together. Some of the men worked out with a group of college skiers who lived and trained in Middlebury.”
Paluszek was one of those guys who trained all summer in Middlebury, and he was also impressed by the team’s drive to get better.
“Everyone just got to work and did more training and I think that’s what really has just kept us on this momentum. Everything’s rolling,” he said.
The next step for each team is the regional championships. They will take place Feb. 22 and 23 at the Snow Bowl at Gore Mountain. Two weeks later, the teams will head out for a week-long national’s trip which will be held in Lake Placid, New York.
And there is plenty of confidence.
Harvey, who is in his senior year, talked about what this season means to him.
“This means everything to me. We have created a winning culture on our ski team that I am proud to be a part of. No matter what results we get I know that this team gave it our all. Hopefully this team culture will continue for years to come,” he said.
“The sheer grit of my teammates inspires me every day and keeps me involved in the sport.”