SKI TEAM HITS THE TRAILS FOR 2008 SEASON

SEAN McNAMARA
DURHAM, N.H. – Led by the core of All-Americans Veronique Archambault-Leger (Verdun, Quebec), Aileen Farrell (Ottawa, Ontario) and Sean McNamara (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.), the University of New Hampshire ski team will once again make its presence felt on the Eastern circuit as well as at the NCAA Ski Championship in 2008 under the guidance of 23rd-year ski coordinator and Nordic coach Cory Schwartz.

UNH, which was host of last year’s NCAAs and placed 11th overall, opens the 2008 season Jan. 11-12 at the Bates Carnival with the alpine events at Sunday River and the Nordic races at Black Mountain. The Wildcats look to end 2008 with a strong contingent of skiers at the NCAA Ski Championships, which will be held March 5-8 by Montana State University.

The Wildcats sent a full contingent of six alpine skiers to the 2007 NCAA championship and with five of those student-athletes returning to compete this season, the alpine squad, under the direction of first-year alpine head coach Brian Blank, should once again battle to be one of the top of the Eastern programs.

The sophomore triumvirate of Archambault-Leger, Farrell and Cynthia Tessier (Ste Julienne, Quebec) all competed at the NCAAs, and junior Eilleen Dent (Castorland, N.Y.) also recorded qualifying scores for the national championship.

In addition to earning NCAA All-America Team status in both the slalom and giant slalom, Archambault-Leger’s accolades included NCAA All-Academic Ski Team, EISA alpine Rookie of the Year, EISA All-East First Team and EISA Women’s Alpine Points Champion. She placed third in both disciplines at the NCAAs to punctuate a highly-successful freshman season that featured 14 top-10 finishes, including seven first-place efforts. Archambault-Leger swept first place in the slalom and giant slalom at both the UNH Winter Carnival and Williams Winter Carnival, and she raced to first place in the slalom at the EISA Championships.

Farrell was an NCAA All-America Team honoree in the slalom by virtue of her seventh-place finish at the national championship; she also placed 14th in the giant slalom at the NCAAs. Farrell recorded a total of six top-10 finishes during the carnival season, and that included sixth place in the giant slalom at the EISA Championships. She recorded a pair of top-10 efforts with fifth and sixth place in the pair of giant slalom races at the Vermont Carnival.

Tessier, an All-East Second Team selection a year ago, earned points for the Wildcats at the 2007 NCAA Ski Championship with a 21st-place finish in the slalom. She took 14th place in the slalom and 15th place in the giant slalom at the EISA Championships and recorded a total of seven top-10 finishes on the carnival circuit. Tessier earned two of those top-10 efforts in her collegiate debut at St. Michael’s Carnival with fourth place in the giant slalom and 10th in the slalom. She also had multiple top-10 results at both the UNH and Dartmouth carnivals.

Although she qualified for the NCAAs, Dent’s season came to a close at the EISA Championships with 15th place in the slalom and 19th place in the giant slalom. Her other season highlights included the Dartmouth Carnival, where Dent placed ninth in the first slalom race and 17th in the second slalom race. Dent also recorded a top-20 effort by recording the 19th-fastest time in the giant slalom at the Williams Carnival.

Senior Ashley Ladd (Plymouth, N.H.) is another proven skier who produces points on the carnival circuit. Last year’s highlights included 13th place in the slalom at the Dartmouth Carnival and 14th in the giant slalom at St. Michael’s as well as 21st place in the giant slalom at the Williams Carnival.

The men’s alpine squad is led by McNamara, a junior who garnered All-America honors in 2006 and All-East accolades in both ’06 and ‘07, and sophomore Willie Ford (Plymouth, N.H.), both of whom raced at the 2007 NCAAs. McNamara placed 12th overall in the slalom as well as 29th in the giant slalom at the national championship. He recorded six top-15 finishes, including four in the top five, during the carnival season; those highlights included 12th place in the slalom at the EISA Championships as well as fourth- and fifth-place efforts in the slalom races at the Vermont Carnival. McNamara’s other top finishes – again in the slalom – were fourth place at Dartmouth and fifth place at UNH.

Ford was the top Wildcat in the giant slalom at the ’07 NCAAs with a 23rd-place finish and he also raced to 18th place in the slalom. He tallied five top-10 finishes in the carnivals and that included third place in the slalom at the St. Michael’s Carnival; he also was the top ‘Cat in his collegiate debut, a 12th-place finish in the giant slalom at the Williams Carnival. At the EISA Championships, Ford was UNH’s top skier in both disciplines by taking eighth in the slalom as well as 12th in the giant slalom.

Senior Randall Bloom (Norwalk, Conn.) qualified as an alternate for the 2007 NCAA Ski Championships with seven top-20 finishes during the carnival season. His highlights included 10th place in the slalom at Williams as well as 18th in the giant slalom at that carnival. Bloom also recorded a pair of top-20 finishes at both Vermont and St. Michael’s. At UVM, he recorded the 13th-fastest time in the slalom as well at 16th best in the giant slalom; earlier in the year, Bloom took 18th in the giant slalom and 20th in the slalom at St. Michael’s.

James MacMahon
(Unity, N.H.) also has the talent to point for New Hampshire. The junior finished in 19th place in the slalom at the EISA Championships and his other season highlight was a 15th-place effort in a slalom race at Dartmouth. Ethan Weibrecht (Lake Placid, N.Y.), a newcomer to the Wildcats as a freshman, could make an immediate impact in ’08 with the possibility of qualifying for the NCAAs.

Turning attention from the trails of the slopes to the Nordic trails, Rody Lageson (St. Paul, Minn.) was UNH’s top skier in men’s Nordic competition last year as he was the team’s top performer in eight races during the carnival season. The senior placed 16th in the 20K classic race and 22nd in the 10K free technique race at the EISAs and completed both disciplines as the top ‘Cat. Lageson recorded a pair of top-10 finishes with fifth place in the classic sprint at the Williams Carnival and seventh in the 10K free at St. Michael’s. His other three top-20 finishes included the 12th-fastest time in the 20K classic at Vermont.

Erick Anderson
(Maplewood, Minn.) consistently produced points for the Wildcats last year as a freshman and has skied well in preseason events. Last year’s highlights included 18th place in the 20K classic at Vermont and 20th place in the classic sprint race at Williams. He ended ’07 with 26th place in the 20K classic at the EISAs.

Newcomers Dylan McGuffin (Northfield, N.H.), Steven Bedard (Cheshire, Mass.) and Harrison Harb (Contoocook, N.H.) are expected to make immediate contributions. McGuffin, a junior transfer, recently earned a No. 10 ranking in the Under-23 at the U.S. Nationals. Bedard and Harb will be rookies this year.

Juniors Daniel Lewis (Jackson, Wyo.) and Shane MacDowell (Peru, Mass.) provide depth. Last year, Lewis placed 14th in the classic sprint at the Williams Carnival and also recorded top-25 finishes at Dartmouth (23rd in the classic) and Vermont (25th in the 20K classic). MacDowell’s highlights included fourth place in the classic sprint at Williams and 16th place in the 10K classic at UNH. He was the second-fastest Wildcat in the 10K free at the EISA Championships with 30th place overall, and he also earned points in the 20K classic with another 30th-place finish.

The women’s Nordic team returns the top two point scorers from last season in juniors Sarah Wright (Wyoming, Minn.), who recently earned a No. 20 ranking in the Under-23 at the U.S. Nationals, and Marlijne Cook (Saranac Lake, N.Y.).

Wright was an All-East honoree last year who qualified as an alternate for the NCAA Ski Championships. She recorded eight top-20 finishes and was UNH’s top skier in seven of nine events. Wright’s top results of ’07 came at St. Michael’s, where she finished fifth in the 5K free, and UNH, where she took seventh in the 10K classic and 15th in the 5K free. She ended 2007 with 12th place in the 5K free and 20th in the 15K classic at the EISAs.

Cook recorded the 19th-fastest time in the 14K classic race at the EISA Championships. She raced to a pair of top-10 finishes in the carnival season with 10th place in both the classic sprint at Williams and the 15K classic race at the Dartmouth Carnival.

Senior Heather Zimmerman (Bethel, Maine) will once again be a point producer for the ‘Cats in ’08. She was the team’s top racer in the 15K classic at the EISA Championships at 16th place overall; she also finished in the top 20 (19th place) in the 5K free at the EISAs. Zimmerman’s carnival highlights included 21st place in the 5K classic at UNH.

Freshman Tasha Kullas (Timmins, Ontario) has the potential to be a consistent top-10 skier and classmate Katie Miller (Lenox, Mass.) has had good results in the preseason.

“Both Nordic squads are deeper and we have many skiers who can compete in the to 10 and hopefully qualify for NCAAs even though the circuit pool is very deep,” Schwartz said.


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