Rensselaer ski team excels at USCSA nationals

SOPHOMORE PAUL KOETKE placed 12th in the giant slalom at USCSA nationals.

After a dramatic finish at the USCSA Mideast Regional which sent the RPI men’s ski team to its first ever trip to the National Championships, the squad did not disappoint as it finished sixth overall among the field of 19 teams. Rensselaer was led by sophomore Paul Koetke, who finished 12th in the Giant Slalom and 16th in the Slalom, good to place 10th overall at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho.

The Giant Slalom, held on Wednesday, March 6, went top-to-bottom on Sun Valley’s Greyhawk trail—a World-Cup level hill featuring the maximum amount of vertical drop allowed. RPI laid the boards down and put up a solid finish, with three of the five racers finishing. Junior Jared Foster placed 29th, while sophomore Ryan Kresser rounded out the team score in 33rd place, after moving up 30 and 36 places in the run order, respectively. Sophomore John Scheetz was unable to finish the snowy first run, while senior Eoghan Sweeney ran into some trouble on his second run. Overall, RPI finished seventh overall among the teams.

Friday’s Slalom proved a little more difficult for Rensselaer, as the team finished eighth on the day. Foster again finished second for the team, placing 32nd among the field of 95 racers. Kresser placed 47th overall, while Sweeney, who had skied a solid first run, finished 49th after having to hike up the course on his second run. Freshman Erik Johnson was disqualified after his first run after he straddled the third to last gate.

The final day of racing featured a new event—a team-based dual Slalom. This short course featured two jumps in the middle. After the initial time trials, however, only four teams were allowed to advance, and Rensselaer didn’t make the cut.

Koetke earned Second-Team All-America honors for his combined 10th place overall finish, as the team placed sixth overall, far-ahead of Mideast rival Cornell University who finished last. With a strong core of racers returning to the team next winter, Rensselaer hopes to improve upon this performance for another strong finish next season.