Rejuvenated ski teams conquer slopes

With the leadership of captain Amy Randall ’04 for the women and Steve Hollister ’05 on the men’s side, both squads were able to consistently place in the top five. The men finished in the top five six times, while the women were able to earn five top-five finishes.

“Our team was larger than it has been in years, showing a rejuvenation in competitive skiing here at Amherst,” said Ski Team President A.J. Korytoski ’04. “Experienced racers and inexperienced, but motivated, learners created a diverse dynamic on the team-resulting in a great season had by all.”

Unfortunately, the fifth-place conference finishes were not enough to send the teams to the Eastern Regional Championships in Waterville Valley, N.H., as only the top four teams from each conference qualify.

The men’s team however did send Zach Schonberger ’06, the number-two racer in the league, to compete individually in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events. Schonberger finished 17th in the Slalom on Sunday and was the top finisher from the Thompson Division. He also finished 30th overall in the Giant Slalom on Monday. Both fields consisted of 84 racers from 16 teams.

“He was the top finisher out of the men in our league,” said Korytoski. “He represented the men’s squad and Amherst College athletics admirably.”

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the season came on Jan. 31 in Dartmouth, N.H., as the men’s team took first place in the Slalom. The trio of Schonberger, Dave Maxted ’05 and Owen Hoffman ’06 combined to outscore the nine other teams with their times and earn Amherst’s first team victory in many years.

Schonberger, who consistently placed in the top three throughout the season, will lead a strong returning cast that includes Maxted, Hoffman and Hollister. The class of 2007 also provides a promising corps including Cameron Smith, Tim Shapiro, Garrett Smith and Alex Sommer.

On the women’s side, Jen Cotton ’07 led the squad, finishing as high as seventh at the Bromley Giant Slalom and earning the 13th individual ranking in the Thompson Division. Libby Klein ’06 excelled as well, finishing 18th overall, while Kelly Smith ’04, Emily Callahan ’05 and Samantha Hollister ’07 provided great depth and consistency for the team. With Cotton, Klein, Callahan and Hollister all returning next season, the team has tremendous potential and has set its eyes set on qualifying for the Regional finals next year.

“We have a very solid squad returning and hopefully both teams can make it to Regionals next year,” said Callahan, the team’s vice-president. With a deep and skilled contingent of returning skiers on the men’s and women’s sides, both teams should be contenders for postseason Regional competition in 2005.