PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The mild winter has been a struggle for training for the college ski racing teams, but the Plymouth State University alpine ski teams will begin the 2007 campaign this week in what should be another outstanding and exciting campaign.
The Panther squads will make their season debut at Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, N.H. This week's updated schedule has the giant slalom race set for Thursday (Jan. 11) and two men's and women's slalom races slated for Friday (Jan. 12).
PSU is scheduled the host the Plymouth State Winter Carnival next weekend (Jan. 20-21) at Waterville Valley (N.H.) with the slalom on Saturday and the GS on Sunday.
PSU will compete in five regular season slalom and giant slalom events this season in the MacConnell Division of the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference. The top teams from the regular season circuit advance to the U.S. Collegiate Snowsport Association's Eastern Regional Championships on Feb. 24-25 at Waterville Valley.
While relatively unknown, PSU's ski teams have enjoyed perennial success under 20th-year head coach Kim Bownes and 12th-year assistant Dave Gyger, who have both earned Conference Coach of the Year Awards. Both Panther squads finished in the top three at last year's Eastern Regionals, and the men were tied for eighth and the women tied for 11th in the combined alpine at the 2006 USCSA National Championships.
2007 Panther Skiing Outlook
Coach Bownes (right) is excited about this year's team, with seven returning skiers on the men's side, nine veterans back on the women's squad, and several solid newcomers on both teams.
"Our women's team should be pretty solid again this year," says Bownes. "We had one of our strongest teams in recent years last season, and we return the top four racers from that team. We're strong at the top and we have depth."
"The guys lost three key seniors from last year, but we have some strong returnees coming back, including a national champion," adds Bownes.
The four top returnees should give the Panther women a strong base. Junior co-captain Melissa Caflisch (Clymer, N.Y./Northwood School) ranked second in the conference during the regular season, placed fifth in the combined at the Eastern Regionals, and took seventh at Nationals in both slalom and combined. Junior Kara Marvelli (Franconia, N.H.) ranked 12th in the conference during the regular season and finished in the top 10 at Regionals in slalom, GS and combined. Sophomores Kate Van Riper (Carabasset Valley, Maine) and Paige Frohock (Boise, Idaho) enjoyed solid regular seasons before finishing 10th and 11th, respectively, in the combined alpine at the Regionals.
Coach Bownes says that freshmen Alyssa Deane (Casper, Wyo.) and Shelley Bowen (Gilford, N.H.) should be the top newcomers.
Sophomore Josh Bedard (Laconia, N.H.) and juniors Jason Hey (Northboro, Mass.) and Vinnie DiNapoli (Ludlow, Vt.) should anchor the men's squad. Bedard won the national title in the giant slalom last year after finishing in the top seven at Regionals in slalom, GS and combined. Hey has also been a top 10 finisher in all three departments over the past two years.
Look for newcomers Owen Carey-Hatch (Gilford, N.H.), Dan Hitchcock (Carrabassett Valley, Maine), and Tak Yoshida (Saitama, Japan) to work their way into the Panther line-up according to Bownes.
"If we can get a little more snow, we have the potential to have another great season," said Bownes, "but this weather is crazy. I've been coaching 20 years and have never seen anything like it."
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