Despite suffering a severe setback midway through the season, the men’s and women’s ski club squads will head to the USCSA regional meet this weekend in New Hampshire, after both teams placed second in their conference in regular-season competition.
Because of the cumulative scoring system of the McBrine division, a missed Jan. 18 meet threatened to ruin the Bulldogs’ postseason hopes, but good performances the rest of the season allowed the ski teams to qualify for the postseason. The Elis decided to skip the meet because of the fatal automobile accident the day before that killed four Yale undergraduates and injured five others.
Nikken Cullman ’04 said the teams were able to catch up with the unchallenging competition of the McBrine division, but the caliber of play at the regional championship meet is a different story.
“It’s the next level of competition,” Cullman said. “There are a lot of teams who practice regularly and actually recruit their skiers, so we can’t compete with those kinds of teams.”
Many Yale skiers, Cullman added, participate in the ski club more as a social event than athletic.
“The kids at regionals really ski seriously, whereas we do it for fun,” Cullman said.
But some talented individual skiers, especially some underclassmen, have the potential to lead the team to a higher placement than normal, women’s captain Katie Palms ’03 said.
Palms is a former Yale Daily News production and design editor.
“We have some racers who will bring the team up,” Palms said. “It’s been a little bit harder to get seniors to come to meets because a lot of them have job interviews, and they’re busy in various ways.”
Because of its informal nature, the ski club’s meets are optional for members; Palms said the success of some competitions during the season depended on which racers had midterms that week.
The Bulldogs compete in the lowest of three divisions of the USCSA. All divisions compete in the regional meet. Palms said the Bulldogs usually prevail over the other schools in their division, but probably will not place higher than seventh overall.
Still, she said, the teams are happy to go to regionals, especially after the missed January meet almost knocked the Elis out of competition.
“We weren’t expecting to go, and it’s always a bit of an honor to go to regionals,” Palms said. “If we hadn’t been able to go because of that meet, everyone would have been pretty bummed.”