Ski team exceeds expectations at nationals

Andrew Hawkins

Credit: Carrie Sloane

The Whitman College men’s and women’s club alpine ski team finished in the top 10 in each event they participated in during United States  Collegiate  Skiing and Snowboarding Association (USCSA) National Championships, held in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Whitman’s alpine team made it to the USCSA National Championships last year, but neither team had as good of a showing. Over the weekend, the women’s team placed fifth in combined ranking, while the men’s finished tenth.

“I think everyone is pretty satisfied with the performances. [Captain junior] Chris [Machesney] and Brad [West] were bummed that they fell [on the last day],” said first-year Patrick Finnegan. “On Saturday, 30 people fell [in the slalom race]. The course was really difficult.”

Whitman was strongly represented at nationals for both teams. Machesney, Finnegan, West, junior Nathan Ord and senior Tim Bak were the men. Captain Torey Anderson, first-year Jazz Campbell, and Lexie Drechsel represented the women’s team. Half of each team qualified for nationals, in which 105 men and 109 women representing over 20 schools compete.

“Both teams qualifying for nationals was a pretty big deal,” said Finnegan. “There are 17 teams in our region and we needed to place top five to qualify for nationals.”

Each alpine team competed in slalom and Giant Slalom,  where a skier attempts to go around poles known as gates as quickly as they can. While Giant Slalom has between 33 and 45 gates, the slalom run has between 40 and 75 (depending on the track and on the gender of the racer or the slope).

Whitman’s best individual men’s performances came in the Giant Slalom where Machesney and Ord finished 18th and 19th respectively. For the women’s team the best individual run was Campbell who finished 17th.

Each of the women that competed placed in the top 30 for slalom, and their team ranking was sixth for the race.

“I think all and all it was successful and fun. It was both Chris’s and my birthday so this was a great way to celebrate,” said Finnegan.