PLYMOUTH, N.H. - It's not the home course advantage, but it's the next best thing for the Plymouth State College men's and women's skiing teams this week.
The Panthers, who train daily at Waterville Valley, will be at nearby Loon Mountain (NH) this Wednesday through Saturday (Mar. 11-14) for the U.S. Collegiate Skiing Association's National Championships. The PSC men qualified by winning the Eastern Regional title last month at Waterville Valley, while the PSC women advanced by finishing runner-up at the regionals.
If recent history is any indication, look for a top 10 finish for PSC in both the men's and women's standings. The men's team tied for seventh at the nationals in 1996 at Mt. Snow, VT, and placed sixth overall in 1997 at Diamond Peak Ski Area in Nevada. The women's team tied for fifth at the '96 nationals, and placed 10th overall last year.
The women's giant slalom is the first event of the alpine competition, with runs Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The same schedule will be followed on Thursday for the men's giant slalom, as well as for Friday's women's slalom and Saturday's men's slalom. The giant slalom races will be held on Loon's Upper Rumrunner and Coolidge Street trails, and the slalom will take place on the Coolidge Street trail.
"The nationals are a little different than the regular season," said veteran PSC coach Kim Bownes. "In the regular season we have to ski more as a team, where at the nationals, we hold nothing back. Everyone skis as hard as they possibly can and hopes for the best."
The Panther teams are led by the Eastern Regional combined champions -- senior Ben Moody (New Boston, NH) in the men's competition and freshman Anda Curuta (Sibiu, Romania) in the women's. Senior M.C. Malboeuf (Gilford, NH) was the regular season champion and placed fourth overall at the regionals.
Several other PSC men and women were Top 10 finishers in the combined standings. Senior Jeff Cuff (Belfontaine, ONT) placed seventh in the combined men's standings, while senior Kyla Dunfee (Gilford, NH) and juniors Sarah Thompson (Southboro, MA) and Amanda Dileo (Ridgewood, NJ) placed 7-8-9, respectively, in the women's combined.
-- 30 --