Minutewomen qualify for regionals

By Adam McGillen, Collegian Staff

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The Minutewomen ski team earned an invitation to the USCSA National Championships in Winter Park, Colo., after it finished fifth overall at the ECSC regional competition at Waterville Valley Ski Resort in New Hampshire over the weekend. Only the top five teams advance to the National Championships. On the men’s side, Alex Zahoruiko’s seventh-place finishes in both events, earning an individual invitation to the National Championships. But a dismal first day prevented the Minutemen from reaching their goal. As they finished sixth, just short of advancing to Winter Park. UMass coach Skip Fox had hoped the men could repeat last year’s first-place finish, but placing ninth in the slalom detracted from a much stronger second-place performance on the giant slalom.

Fox indicated last week that a top-five finish for the women was about all he could ask for. The Minutewomen are without their captain for the remainder of the season as Ashley Hawes sustained an ACL injury on Jan. 25.

The Minutewomen finished fifth and fourth in the slalom and giant slalom respectively, with three athletes in the top 15 of both events.

Abby Nolan posted a combined time of 2:19.76 on the giant slalom, the top individual performance for the UMass women. Junior Emily Shilletto, co-captain, finished ninth in the slalom and 10th in the giant slalom. Amy Gifford and Heidi Skinner provided consistency, placing in the top 15 of both events.‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

For the Minutewomen, a rough Saturday performance on the slalom was too much for their stellar performance on Sunday to overcome.‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Andrew Hawes, co-captain for the Minutemen and a dynamic element in keeping the team competitive with strong slalom finishes, lost his ski in his first run, an incident that ended his day. Hawes played a significant role in leading the team to a national title last year as a sophomore. Matt Small also lost a ski on his first run, resulting in disqualification. During Saturday’s second runs, the Minutemen tried to play it conservatively, but nothing seemed to go the Minutemen’s way.

Fox said Stefan Ogle only needed to finish.

‘Fifteen gates into the course something that never happens, happened. Stefan’s rear binding literally broke in half. He would have finished the 54-gate course on one leg and one ski, but that is against the rules,’ Fox said in an e-mailed statement.

Team scores are calculated by combining the three best individual runs. Because Ogle did not finish, a ghost time was substituted, equivalent to the day’s worst recorded time plus 10 percent.

The Minutemen finished Saturday in ninth place.

On Sunday, three Minutemen finished in the top 10 of the giant slalom, led by junior Travis Hopkins. Hopkins placed fifth with a combined time of 2:13.26, followed by Zahoruiko in seventh (2:13.60) and Smalls in ninth (2:15.24).

They were second only to Colby-Sawyer College on Sunday.

The Minutewomen and Zahoruiko will head to Winter Park, Colo., next weekend for the USCSA National Championships, which take place March 3-7.

Adam McGillen can be reached at [email protected].