Panthers finish season strong at Berkshire East

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State College ski racing teams finished the regular season in strong fashion Saturday, with the men placing first among 10 teams and the women finishing second among 11 schools in the slalom events at the Smith College Winter Carnival at Berkshire East Mountain in Western Massachusetts.

The Panther men completed a season sweep of the five slalom races, finishing ahead of runner-up Colby-Sawyer as well as UMass, Boston College and New England College. PSC also won three of the five giant slalom races this season.

The Panther women's squad finished runner-up in Saturday's slalom, behind Boston College and ahead of Brown Colby-Sawyer and UMass. PSC finished in the top three in four of the five slalom races and three of the five GS events.

For the second straight day, PSC men's skiers took the top two spots in the individual competition. Junior Tim Mitchell (Ashland, Mass.) and senior Fred DeBaets (St. Sauveur, QUE), who finished 1-2 in the giant slalom on Friday, turned the trick again in the slalom on Saturday. Mitchell won seven of the 10 regular season races this season, including all five in the slalom. DeBaets finished in the top five for the eighth time in 10 races, including three seconds and a first. The final regular season conference rankings have Mitchell first and DeBaets second among approximately 90 skiers.

The PSC men again showed their depth, with five of the top 14 finishers Saturday. Junior EJ Cheney (Bethel, Maine) placed ninth, senior Jake Manseau (Henniker, N.H.) was 13th, and junior Brad Sheehan (Belmont, N.H.) was 14th.

Senior Anda Curuta (Sibiu, Romania) rebounded from a fall in Friday's GS to win the women's slalom. She earned her remarkable 26th individual title in 35 career starts, including five of seven this winter. Sophomore Cher Murphy (East Northport, N.Y.) also rebounded from a fall on Friday to finish 11th overall Saturday, while freshman Whitney Swaffield (Wolfeboro, N.H.) placed 14th.

In the final regular season conference rankings, Murphy is ranked second, Curuta fourth and Swaffield 10th. Curuta's ranking dropped when she missed three races to compete for her native Romania in the World Championships in Austria earlier this month.

Next up for the Panther squads are the Eastern Regionals next Sunday and Monday (Feb. 25-26) at Waterville Valley. The PSC men are the four-time defending champions and the PSC women have finished runner-up four straight years.