RPI skiing off to strong start on new season

Men’s varsity earns second-straight weekend title, Knortz continues impressive career

FRESHMAN PAUL KOETKE RIPS through the slalom course for his first run at the Hamilton Invitational at Labrador Mountain on Sunday. Koetke won the race—his second straight slalom victory of the season.

For the second straight weekend, the RPI men’s ski team has claimed first place overall among its competition after strong finishes in both slalom and giant slalom. In addition, graduate student Chris Knortz and freshman Paul Koetke placed first and second, respectively, in the first two races of the season. The women’s team, who saw freshman Rachel Crain take the overall weekend title for the Hamilton Invitational this past Saturday and Sunday, finished fourth at the Ithaca Invitational, and sixth in the Hamilton race.

The Ithaca Invitational took place on Saturday, January 21, and Sunday, January 22, at Labrador Mountain in Truxton, N.Y. Rensselaer saw a strong showing from its men’s team on both days, as the men’s team rolled to a second place finish in giant slalom. Knortz led the way with a first-place time of 1:29.41, while Koetke finished third with a time of 1:31.52. Senior John Baker placed 10th, while classmate James Russell took an unfortunate spill in his second run to finish 24th.

The junior varsity team also placed well in the giant slalom, with sophomores Jared Foster and John Scheetz finishing second and third, respectively, while junior Bart Cromwell finished sixth. Rounding out the top 10 was sophomore Lincoln Noggle, who placed seventh, while senior Nathan Porteous was nearby in 12th. Led by some of its top skiers in several years, the women’s team saw Crain place fourth overall in the giant slalom, while freshman Brielle Korenowski finished eighth.

The three squads kept that momentum rolling for the next day’s slalom, as the men’s varsity team finished first overall. Koetke put up a second-place time of 1:22.37, while Knortz was close behind in third with a time of 1:22.98. Baker placed sixth, while freshman Ryan Kresser put up a time of 1:30.43 to earn ninth place. Junior Eoghan Sweeney, who fell in his first run, came back with a fifth-place second run to finished 18th overall.

Yet again the junior varsity team commanded the field, as Cromwell, Foster, graduate student Peter O’Brien, Russell, and senior Dan Donovan placed second, third, fifth, eighth, and ninth, respectively. Korenowski, the only woman to finish for RPI in the slalom, placed eighth overall with a time of 1:37.28.

The next weekend saw the team continue that same domination, as Knortz, Koetke, and Sweeney finished first, second, and third overall for the entire Hamilton Invitational. Labrador Mountain once again played host to the giant slalom and slalom for the weekend.

Crain took second place in the giant slalom for the women, finishing with a time of 1:30.65. Korenowski also put up a strong showing, placing ninth with a time of 1:33.36. The men’s varsity team saw nearly all skiers finish in the top 10, as Knortz flew to his second-straight first-place finish. Koetke placed second, while Sweeney finished just off the podium in fourth. Baker placed seventh overall, while Foster moved to 12th place. The junior varsity team nearly swept the podium as well, with Scheetz finishing first, Kresser in second, and Cromwell in fourth. In addition, junior Parker Bunce placed 10th overall.

The women’s team continued its impressive performance as Crain once again finished in second place in the slalom, while Korenowski came in eighth. The men’s varsity team saw Koetke win his second-straight slalom, while Knortz came in second. Sweeney finished fourth, with Baker and Kresser in 11th and 13th place, respectively. The junior varsity team finished with Cromwell in first place, Scheetz in second, O’Brien in third, and Foster in fourth.

This weekend, the teams head to Toggenburg Mountain, located in Fabius, N.Y., for the West Point Invitational. The giant slalom is set to begin at 10 am on Saturday, with the slalom beginning at 9:30 am on Sunday. With Rensselaer facing much of the same competition of the previous weekends, the team hopes to earn its third-straight first place finish.