Jan. 6, 2009
AMHERST, Mass. -
UMass Skiing will begin its pursuit of a second straight USCSA National title this weekend when they travel to Sunapee, N.H. to compete in the Colby-Sawyer College Carnival at Mt. Sunapee. Both the men and the women will compete in the Giant Slalom on Friday before the Slalom event on Saturday. Last year, both squads placed third at the Carnival.
"We are looking to this weekend with great anticipation, but you never know how you'll do until you ski against them face to face," said Head Coach Skip Fox. "We are positive in our attitude and looking forward to the challenge."
The Women will be looking to their captains for solid performances this weekend in Ashley Hawes and Emily Shilletto.
Below is the season preview with Coach Fox.
Can you talk about the 2008 season and review last year's USCSA Nationals?
Well last year our fastest skier was Eliza Hawkins; and the Women last year did pretty well last year, but I think they could have done better. If you had asked me at the beginning of last season which team would end up winning the Nationals, I would have said the Women. But that isn't the way it worked out, and that's ski racing. Last year at the Nationals the girls had a bad luck day on the Giant Slalom, with Hawkins and Emily Shilletto going down, and we ended up in ninth place as a result. However, they rebounded very well in the Slalom, taking third and getting to the podium as a team, and we ended up fifth overall.
What are your thoughts about this season?
Can you talk about Ashley Hawes and Emily Shilletto and how they are going to lead this team?
I definitely want them to build on last season. We've done a lot of team building exercises this fall, and in ski racing that is important because all of their lives they've been skiing for themselves. Now they are skiing for seven other teammates; so we've done some team building exercises and we've gotten them in really good shape. By the time they went home for Christmas they had six days on snow, and when they came back on January 2 they were ready to get into the gates for our first Carnival on January 9.
They are definitely the leaders of the team; Ashley spent the majority of last season recovering from an ACL tear from the year before, and at the end of the year she really came on strong and skied to her potential. Emily has tremendous potential; last season she had some trouble finishing a lot of the races. So hopefully with the team building that we've done and the work that she has done individually, if those girls ski to their potential this season is going to be great.
Besides the captains, who are you looking to step up this season and make an impact on the team?
There's defiantly Jamie Taloumis; she's a great skier and I'm looking for her to step up this year. Amy Gifford tore her ACL on the second run of the first race last year and Alison Hubbard broke her leg before the last season began, so I'm looking for the two of them to bounce back strong for us this year. Katie Weissman is also coming back from a shoulder injury. Heidi Skinner, Lauren Levey, and Abby Nolan all had strong seasons for us last year. Watching them ski and seeing the shape that they are in this year makes me think that we have a lot of potential.
Which teams in the MacConnell Conference are going to challenge you the most?
It's pretty much the same as the men with Boston College and Plymouth-State, but Smith College has some good skiers as well. Brown University also has a strong women's team, so they are going to challenge us. Colby-Sawyer had the strongest women's team in our division last year, so they are going to be a threat this year, too.