Just one short year after reaching the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships, the Stags have punched their ticket once again as they head to the big dance this weekend with hopes of putting Fairfield Skiing on the map.
“It’s a big deal, this is the second year in a row that we have qualified. Before last year, we hadn’t qualified for about five or six years, so we’re putting ourselves back on the map as a national contender,” said captain Luke Tinkham ‘18.
Last year, the Stags finished the season second in their conference while finishing third in regionals, which was good enough for a national championship appearance at Lake Placid, N.Y. Unfortunately for the Stags, they were unable to capture the championship and finished 17th out of the 20 best teams across the country.
“Looking back on last year, since we had no expectations, we didn’t really know how to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for it. With the result that we got last year we now know moving forward how to deal with the adversity we might face,” said Tinkham.
Leading the Stags will be captains Liam Murphy ‘17, Maura Tierney ‘17, Tinkham, Ryan Carlucci ‘18 and Grace Farrell ‘18, all of which are returning members from last year’s team.
“There’s three of us who are racing this year who are returning to race again this year so we bring at least one year of experience each to the table to the new people who are racing this year and we can help them prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for it,” said Tinkham about how returning members will look to lead their team to success this go around.
This season consisted of a total of 10 races, eight of which the Stags came out victorious. For the Stags, they enjoyed quite a year as they proved to be the top team in the Atlantic Highlands Conference, winning not only the conference but also going on to win the regionals and earning themselves the top seed coming from the mid-Atlantic.
The championships will consist of a total of four races covering a span of four days. The first race, known as slalom, is a race where competitors must ski between poles and/or gates that are placed in close proximity to each other. This is a race where two skiers represent their team in individual races. It is a race between the skier and the clock, where the fastest time for each team will decide the winner. The second race, named giant slalom, is similar to the slalom race. The only difference is that the poles and/or gates are spaced farther than in slalom, where it is much closer.
The next race is known as the ski cross, where individuals face off head-to-head to see who crosses the finish line first. Although it is a timed race, it is also considered part of freestyle skiing as it includes terrain features usually found in freestyle races. The final race is the dual slalom, a team centered race that consists of five members per team as they individually race other competitors, ultimately trying to get points for their respective team.
The 39th annual USCSA Championships is set to take place between March 5 and 11 at Mount Bachelor, Ore. The team is set to travel this Sunday with the hopes of bringing a national championship to the University. Tinkham has high expectations for his team as they head toward the weekend. “Coming out of our conference and our region as the number one seed of both of them, I think we should be at least in the top 10 in the nation this year if not higher. I’ve set my goal as a team to be one of the top five teams in the country,” said Tinkham.