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Alpine Preview: New additions strengthen solid core of returners

Senior tri-captain Emily Sampson looks to make her third straight appearance in the NCAA Champsionships.

The 2009 Bates alpine ski team returns the bulk of its talent from last year’s 15th-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Skiing Championships in Bozeman, Mont. This year the Bobcats are excited to be hosting the 2009 NCAA Skiing Championships at Sunday River in Bethel, Maine. As hosts, Bates will be working hard throughout the season to qualify a full team to NCAAs.

Senior tri-captains Liz Thompson (Rangeley, Maine), Emily Sampson (Plymouth, N.H.) and Megan Papineau (Keene, N.Y.) will lead a young squad with four underclassmen rounding out the roster.

Four of the seven members of the women’s team have NCAA Championship experience. Thompson, Sampson and sophomore Micaela Holland (Belmont, Mass.) will compete to return to the NCAA Championships after making it last season.

Thompson will strive to make her fourth straight NCAA championship appearance, which would make her the first woman alpine skier at Bates to do so. Sampson will be vying for her third straight appearance in the championships. Papineau (Keene, N.Y.) also looks to return to NCAA action this season after suffering a season-ending injury in the second carnival last year. She qualified for the NCAA Championships her first two seasons at Bates and is already looking strong and fast this year.

Also competing for an NCAA spot will be first-year Kristen Waddle (Harpswell, Maine), who has shown some early season speed. The Bates women were only one of two Division III programs to send three women to the NCAA Championships last year and hope to do so again this year.

Ross Brockman '11 will help lead a young and talented men's team.

The 2009 men’s alpine team will be led by sophomores Ben Manter (Vassalboro, Maine) and Ross Brockman (Sudbury, Mass.) and first-years Bump Heldman (Auburn, Maine) and Alex Jones (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), who will all be battling for spots in the NCAA Championships. While the team is comprised solely of underclassmen, including four sophomores and three first-years, the team’s youth is deceiving. The sophomores have a solid year of collegiate competition under their belts and the talented first-years come in ready to compete at a high level.

One first-year who has a wealth of experience already is Heldman. Heldman spent the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons training with the US Ski Team before coming to Bates to start his college career. Now that he has decided to ski at the collegiate level, he hopes his time with the US Ski Team will pay off in the means of an NCAA Championship appearance this year.

Head coach Rogan Connell has set his sights on qualifying a full team, which would consist of a maximum three men and three women, for the NCAA Championships.

The entire alpine team kicks off its season January 23rd and 24th hosting the Bates College Carnival at Sunday River. Bates hosts the 2009 NCAA Skiing Championships from March 11th through March 14th.