After a strong season that saw the men’s varsity ski team finish first overall in the conference and three skiers finish in the top-10 of all competitors, a couple of falls in Sunday’s slalom eliminated the squad’s chance at a bid for the national championships. All was not lost, however, as freshman Paul Koetke finished first overall on the weekend, and will be heading to Sunday River in Newry, Maine, for the USCSA National Championships March 5–10.
Also competing at the Mideast Regional at Bristol Mountain was freshman Rachel Crain, who qualified for the race as an individual. Crain, who was named to the All-Conference Second Team as the league’s 12th-best female skier, had a strong showing as well but narrowly missed out on an individual bid to the national championship by two tenths of a second. The Stratton Mountain School graduate finished in ninth place for both Saturday’s giant slalom with a time of 2:10.26, and Sunday’s slalom with a time of 2:06.14.
Koetke won Saturday’s giant slalom with a time of 1:58.09, nearly an entire second faster than the rest of the field. Graduate student Chris Knortz placed sixth with a time of 1:59.59, while junior Eoghan Sweeney was 23rd with a time of 2:06.71. Sophomore Jared Foster was one spot behind with a time of 2:07.17, while senior John Baker placed 26th. As a team, RPI placed fourth overall on the day, behind Cornell University, Syracuse University, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
The next day proved to be no better for Rensselaer, as three of the team’s five skiers fell in the first run of the slalom. Koetke continued his strong performance, finishing second with a time of 1:50.73—just one hundredth off the winning time. Knortz placed fifth, while freshman Ryan Kresser placed 29th. Again, RPI finished fourth overall on the day and fourth on the weekend. Cornell, Syracuse, and Hobart all advanced to the national championships.
Koetke, who will represent Rensselaer as an individual, will compete in the slalom and giant slalom at Sunday River. The men’s alpine giant slalom is set for Thursday, March 8, and the slalom will be held on Saturday, March 10.