Drama, excitement, suspense. The recent United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships, held at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, N.Y., provided all three for the men’s alpine ski team.
To start, one of Babson’s top skiers, Douglas DeLuca ’20, was injured by a snowboarder before the event and couldn’t compete. Then there was the excitement of waiting for the results of an extremely tight slalom race, followed by being part of an incredibly rare four-way team tie for first place overall.
In particular, the scene at the bottom of the hill during the slalom was filled with anticipation, says Sam Bensley, head coach. Once the top 30 skiers finished, frantic calculations ensued among MacConnell Division coaches. “The guys knew they had done well, but they thought they had placed second,” says Bensley. “I said, ‘I don’t want you guys to lose your minds just yet, but I think you did it.’”
Babson won the team slalom by four-hundredths of a second; for the first time in program history, the Beavers found themselves on top of the podium for this event. “It was surreal,” says Bensley. “We had alumni calling from all over the country congratulating us. The guys were on top of the world.”
“Four-hundredths of a second is like less than a foot in skiing,” says Jack Blanchard ’20, who placed second in the individual slalom and combined standings. “You can’t even think about how small that is. The feeling was unreal. Everyone was giving high fives, hugs, you name it.”
Bensley says his top three finishers had the cleanest runs he has ever seen from the team. “We knew we had a pretty solid group of five guys racing,” he says, “and if everyone skied their own race, we would do really well.”
MacIntyre Henderson ’20 and Blanchard finished the week with three All-America accolades in the slalom, giant slalom, and combined. Henderson placed third in the individual combined standings and fifth in the slalom.
Contributing to the team’s four-way tie for first in the combined were John Boland ’18, Sean Robinson ’20, and Eli Wolfson ’20. After the tiebreaker, the Beavers came in fourth but were still proud of their overall performance.
“We had been waiting all season for this,” says Blanchard. “We gave it all we had, and it was a great way to culminate the season. We knew we had the speed coming in, and to stick with our game plan was pretty awesome.”—Scott Dietz, associate director of athletics