Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Skiing season comes to an end

By Adam McGillen

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After four days of events at Winter Park Resort in Winter Park, Colo., the Massachusetts women’s ski team cemented a sixth-overall finish out of 20 teams competing for the national title.

The Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah) women’s team left no room for improvement, winning the 2009 USCSA National Championship in its inaugural season. The Griffins’ men side faired just as well, winning the men’s national championship.

Alex Zahoruiko, a senior co-captain, was the only Minuteman invited to the competition. He placed 15th in the giant slalom and 17th in the slalom. Zahoruiko also shared Second Team All-American honors with junior Emily Shilletto, co-captain of the Minutewomen.

Shilletto, Heidi Skinner, Amy Gifford and Jamie Taloumis were named Academic All-American’s after their solid performances during the week.

Events began on Wednesday, March 4, with the women’s giant slalom. Shilletto led the Minutewomen with a 13th-place finish, followed by Gifford in 20th and Abby Nolan in 30th. Each skier improved her time on the second run of the day to propel the team to a sixth-place finish for the event. It set the tone for Friday’s slalom event, where Skinner made her mark on the competition.

‘Heidi made an incredible jump from the first run to the second,’ said UMass coach Skip Fox. ‘She was 46th after the first run and made a big jump up to 28th place with a great second run.’

Shilletto kept the momentum going with a combined time of 1 minute, 28.20 seconds on the slalom, placing 12th, followed by teammate, Taloumis, in 20th, and then Skinner. The team’s combined score of 269.4 placed it in sixth for the event.

The event marked the end of the women’s season. The young team, who will lose Emily Zimmerman to graduation in May, will have a chance to make another run at the national title next year.

Zahoruiko followed the ladies’ example by improving dramatically on his second run at the giant slalom event on Thursday. He posted a time of 1:05.54 in the early run, but came back later and cut his time to 56.08, catapulting himself to a 15th-place finish.

The men’s slalom event on Saturday proved one of the most challenging at the national championships. Of the 109 individual skiers that attempted the run in Colorado‘s Rocky Mountains, 37 did not finish and another six were disqualified.

Zahoruiko posted a combined time of 1:44.15 at the event, earning 17th place.

The men’s team loses two seniors in Paul Lewenberg and Zahoruiko. Andrew Hawes, who shared captainship of the team this season with Zahoruiko, will assume leadership of the team as a senior next year.

Adam McGillen can be reached at [email protected].

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