Ski Team Opens EISA Season This Weekend at Bates Carnival
DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire alpine and Nordic ski teams begin the 2012 Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association season this weekend at the Bates Winter Carnival (Jan. 20-21). The Wildcats have notched three straight Top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including eighth place last season, which was their top placement in 11 years.
Cory Schwartz is in his 30th year as Nordic head coach and 27th season as the UNH ski coordinator. He has guided the 'Cats to 22 overall NCAA Top-10 finishes and mentored 29 student-athletes to a total of 39 All-America team selections. Brian Blank, a four-year letterwinner on the UNH alpine team in the 1990s, enters his fifth season at the reins of the alpine program. Former Bates College team captain Stephen Monsulick is the fourth-year Nordic assistant coach, and Katie Hitchcock, a member of the United States ski team from 2003-07, enters her first campaign as the alpine assistant coach.
The men's alpine team brings back a pair of returning All-America skiers, headlined by senior Zach Clayton (Manassas, Va.). Clayton was tabbed to the All-America First Team on slalom and All-America Second Team on giant slalom at the NCAAs, hosted by the University of Vermont, last winter. The EISA All-East Second-Team skier placed a career-high second in SL at the Vermont Carnival. Sophomore Sam Coffey (Snowmass, Colo.), a transfer from Denver University, earned All-America Second-Team honors in SL at the NCAAs in his first season competing for UNH. The men's alpine team captain is Paul Atkinson (Toronto, Ontario), who was the 2011 team MVP. Atkinson, a member of the EISA All-East First Team, qualified for the NCAAs for the third straight year to cap a season highlighted by his first career victory in SL at St. Lawrence.
Taylor Vest-Burton (Breckenridge, Colo.) also qualified for the NCAAs last year, but did not participate due to a three-skier-per-school limit. The junior should provide valuable depth as he looks to improve upon his career-high, fourth-place finish in SL at Colby. The men's alpine team also includes sophomores Geoff Bonewald (New London, N.H.), Eric Coffin (Sugar Hill, N.H.), Kris Hopkins (North Andover, Mass.), Charlie Kidd (Toronto, Ontario), Chad Lawrence (Hastings, Minn.) and Curtis Lush (Clarksburg, Ontario), along with freshman Coley Oliver (Salt Lake City, Utah).
Last year's women's alpine MVP Marie-Elaine Lepine (Mont-Tremblant, Quebec), who will be bidding for a third straight trip to NCAAs in '12, adds the title of team captain for her junior season. Lepine placed 21st in GS at last year's national championships, eighth in GS at the EISA Championships at Bates and a season-best fourth in GS at Middlebury. Classmate Catherine Blanchard (Eastman, Quebec) should also prove to be an alpine force on the heels of her first NCAA Championship appearance. Blanchard shined on SL, claiming a season-best third place at Vermont and placing sixth at EISAs.
Leading a trio of sophomores is Laura Rozinowicz (Toronto, Ontario), who finished a team-leading 17th in GS at the NCAAs and sixth in SL at EISAs during an encouraging freshman season. Granite State native Laura Halupowski (North Conway, N.H.) and Jenna Kantor (East Burke, Vt.), a mid-season addition to last year's team who collected a pair of 12th-place finishes (SL, Middlebury; GS, EISAs), round out the women's alpine squad.
Senior Tom Reagan (Freeport, Maine) and junior Erik Lindgren (Pitea, Sweden) will serve as men's Nordic team co-captains. Reagan participated in two carnivals last season, while Lindgren collected a pair of top-20 finishes at EISAs, finishing 19th in the 10K freestyle and 20th in the 20K classic. His season-high placement was eighth in the 20K classic at Vermont. Dan Guiney (Park City, Utah) will be counted on for a big season following a year that resulted in five top-25 placements, including 24th in the 10K free at EISAs and an individual, season-best 22nd in 20K classic at Vermont.
The team should be aided by a triumvirate of experienced competitors looking to step up this season: seniors Nick Mancuso (New Paltz, N.Y.) and Perry Thomas (Rindge, N.H.) and junior Ian Wilson (Wayzata, Minn.). A corps of recruits will bolster the lineup, including sophomore Johnny Springer (Jackson, Wyo.) and freshmen Per Lindgren (Pitea, Sweden), Will Meyer (Bozeman, Mont.) and Sam Reed (Boston, Mass.).
The women's Nordic team co-captains are senior Danielle Baron (Gilford, N.H.) and junior Liz Guiney (Park City, Utah). Guiney, the lone Wildcat returnee with NCAA Championship experience, was a member of the 2010-11 Capital One Academic All-District Women's At-Large Team and the EISA All-East Second-Team. She led all 'Cats with a 16th-place finish in the 5K free at NCAAs, took 10th in 10K free at EISAs and notched a season-high third place in 5K classic at St. Lawrence.
Junior Kelsey Hoar (Shaftsbury, Vt.) and sophomore Elizabeth Izzo (Lake Placid, N.Y.) are primed for breakout seasons for New Hampshire after gaining experience at the USSA Cross Country Junior National Championships in March 2011 and the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships earlier this month.
Seniors Maureen McAuliffe (Hopkinton, N.H.) and Danielle McVicar (Kanata, Ontario), along with junior Kvel McDermott (Putney, Vt.), represent returning Nordic upperclassmen. The sophomore contingent consists of Anne Miller (Whitefish, Mont.), Molly Newman (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Dana Roach (Minocqua, Wisc.), and the freshman newcomers are Tristan Ramey (Anchorage, Alaska) and Annika Taylor (Truckee, Calif.).
Following the season-opening carnival at Bates this Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, the Wildcats will play host to the UNH Winter Carnival on Jan. 27-28, with alpine racing slated for Attitash and Nordic racing scheduled for Jackson Ski Touring Center. The rest of the EISA schedule features the Vermont Carnival (Feb. 3-5), the Dartmouth Carnival (Feb. 10-11), the Williams Carnival (Feb. 17-18) and the EISA Championships at Middlebury (Feb. 24-25). The 2012 NCAA Skiing Championship, hosted by Montana State University, will take place March 7-10 in Bozeman, Mont. For more information on the UNH ski program, visit www.unhwildcats.com or www.unhskiing.com.