Williams College skiing will need to replace two of the four skiers lost to graduation that competed at the 2012 NCAA Skiing Championships to improve on last winter's 12th place finish.
All-East skiers and NCAA participants Laurel Carter (Alpine) and Dimitri Luethi (Nordic) have graduated.
Eph Alpine coach Ed Grees and Nordic coach Bud Fisher will have two returning NCAA Championships standouts in senior Geordie Lonza (Alpine) and sophomore Will Wicherksi (Nordic) to build around this season.
At last year's NCAA championships Lonza finished third in the giant slalom and became the first Eph woman to podium at the NCAA championships since Jen Seed in 1994. Lonza was also the first Eph All-American Alpine skier since Cecily Lowenthal (2003).
"Geordie Lonza has a tremendous technical base which gives her a wonderful touch on the snow," noted Ed Grees. "Her focus has developed over the last three seasons and has been demonstrated through her results. My expectation of Geordie remains the same, simply that she focus on what she does well, her skiing. This will allow her to be a fierce competitor on race day."
Grees will also welcome back senior Annie Leiter who advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2011, seniors Katy Kirkpatrick, Marissa Thiel, Kristina Krone and Amy McLaughlin. Also returning are junior Shannon Campbell and sophomore Sarah Cottrill who both posted top 15 results in 2012. First years Jocelyn Volk and Nikki Caravelli are expected to be push for a carnival start as well. Sophomore Kerstin Graham and first year Merritt Harlan round out the squad.
In 2011 Campbell and Leiter helped lead the Ephs to a first ever team Slalom win at an EISA Carnival when they teamed up with Laurel Carter to top the field at the University of Vermont. In 2012 the Williams women were on the EISA podium in 9 of 12 events with three slalom wins, recording the best results in the history of the Eph women's program.
The men's Alpine team will be led by junior John Sanderson and returns a core group of sophomores who are on the verge of making some regional and national noise: Carson Houle, Cristoph Lentz, Victor Major, and Dylan Thomas. "This class has made great improvements on and off the hill," said Grees. "Their goal will be to take what they do on a daily basis on the training hill and bring it out in the races." Senior Chris Nocek will be counted on to add depth as he continues to develop a year out from an injury.
First years that could add to the Ephs' depth in the giant slalom and slalom events include Max Axlerod and Kendall Pasteris
"The confidence level on both the men's and women's teams has been augmented through a fantastic preparation period," Grees commented. "The men and women are physically stronger than they have been in the past. The early season skiing has gone well and I am confident that when they put 100% onto the race hill that they will be pleased with their results."
|Phil Tosteson '13 - #31|
Sophomore Will Wicherksi who finished 11th in the 20K Classic Nordic race at the 2012 NCAA Championships, one spot out of All-America honors, will anchor the Eph men's Nordic team this winter.
"Will had an outstanding first year at Williams and his summer and fall training indicate that he is on schedule to lead the team again this year," said Eph Nordic coach Bud Fisher. "He plans to spend the month of January [Winter Study] in Norway doing research and will rejoin the team in February."
Fisher will have plenty of experienced skiers behind Wicherski as the Ephs return two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore from last year's team.
Ian Nesbitt and Phil Tosteson are the top-returning seniors, while Isaac Hoenig, and Kalle Jahn lead the junior class and Vanya Rybken represents the sophomore class. Tough competition for the six carnival start spots is expected to be one of the strengths of the Eph Nordic team this winter.
Local product freshman Josh Harrington from Williamstown and Mt. Greylock HS is expected to push the upperclassmen and contest for a carnival start.
The Eph women's Nordic team will be led this winter by carnival-tested Christina Knapp, junior Kristen Halvorsen and a trio of sophomores, all of whom have previously qualified for the Junior Olympics. The sophomore trio is comprised of Elena Luethi, Jenna Maddock and Hannah Smith. Further, a fourth sophomore, Sarah Abramson is also expected to challenge for a start in the carnival races.
"The women's Nordic team looks to be much improved this year," noted Fisher. "The team fitness and chemistry have been excellent this fall and we all look forward to the upcoming races."
The Ephs will officially open the 2013 season on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) carnival circuit when they travel to compete at the University of Vermont (UVM) Carnival on January 11-12.
Following the UVM carnival the Ephs will compete in five additional carnivals in the northeast before the Bates Carnival/EISA Championships/NCAA Regional (Feb. 22 & 23) to see which Ephs will advance to the NCAA Championships.
This winter the NCAA Skiing Championships will be held in New England with Middlebury College serving as the host March 6-9.