Castleton University’s alpine skiing women impressed last weekend at Okemo while the men struggled with difficult conditions once again, this time at Stowe Mountain.
Although collegiate skiing programs were cancelled due to the pandemic, alpine teams responded by rising to a serious challenge – competing with the Fédération Internationale de Ski, or the International Ski Federation, head coach Chris Eder said
“There is a lot of very good competition at these FIS races for the women and the men. Our student-athletes are skiing against Division I skiers from the University of Vermont and Dartmouth and athletes from Vermont ski academies,” Eder said. “Some of the Division I athletes will go on to make their national teams and compete on the World Cup the biggest stage for ski racing. We are not just competing against anyone.”
Given the nature of competition this year, Eder has been very pleased with the results, especially the recent success by the women at Okemo, with four women cracking the top 30 at the finish of the second giant slalom race of the day.
Petra Veljkovic led the way in 14th place, followed by Karoline Rettenbacher in 20th, Brigit Kinneberg in 24th, and Lena Soehnle in 29th. Nearly 100 skiers competed.
“To finish in the top-30 at a FIS race is very good and nothing to shy away from. I am sure that our athletes would tell you that they are not completely satisfied with their results, but that is normal, since they all want to win,” a proud sounding Eder said.
The men had a nice set of results recently as well, with Lorenzo Mencaccini finishing second at the FIS slalom at the Burke Mountain season opener in January. Paul Rechberger has five top-20 runs this year, and Christopher Kerven finished 15th at the Sugarbush slalom, winning the second run.
However, things haven’t been easy this year for Spartan skiers with all the fresh snow that has been covering the Green Mountains. Just last Monday at Stowe, all four Spartan men did not finish the giant slalom on the day.
“In regards to the races at Stowe, the terrain changes on the race trail can be tricky. I think they were skiing well, but a few small mistakes added up and led to their DNFs … We have not had perfect conditions for giant slalom training. All the new snow that we have been receiving over the past few weeks, has resulted in less than stellar training conditions. Part of me wants to take responsibility for the DNFs because I have not been able to provide good training. Another part of me blames Mother Nature,” Eder said.
The men will be in action next on Feb. 22 at Smugglers Notch while the women resume competition the same day at Sugarbush.