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Nordic Preview: Strong mix should spark success

Captain Sylvan Ellefson '09 strives to earn his second straight All-American honors this season.

The 2009 Bates Nordic ski team expects to field some of the top skiers in the East this season, some of whome should qualify for the NCAA Championships in March at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine. Bates is hosting the NCAA Championships for the first time in a decade and hopes to be well represented.

The men’s team will be led by captain Sylvan Ellefson (Vail, Colo.) and his four fellow seniors Sam Evans-Brown (Gilmanton Iron Works, N.H.), Dylan Mogk (Bozeman, Mont.), Tim Whiton (Portland, Maine) and Connor Cushman (Portland, Maine). Ellefson returns this season after winning his first All-American honors during the 2008 season -- he finished fourth in the 10K Freestyle race last year in the NCAAs at Bozeman, after qualifying as the top male in the East. Ellefson has made three straight appearances in the NCAA Championships.

First-year Liam Donnelly (Burlington, Vt.) has shown great potential thus far and has a solid background of experience skiing at Vermont Academy last year and competing at the Junior Olympic level.

The women’s team will be led by senior co-captain Nicole Ritchie (East Dummerston, Vt.) and junior co-captain Abby Samuelson (Freeport, Maine). Ritchie and Samuelson are the only two upperclassmen on the roster, which is rounded out by four sophomores and five first-years. 

The team’s youth will spark strong competition throughout the roster with a number of first-years expected to make an immediate impact. Moreover, the strong core of returning sophomores have a solid year of collegiate competition behind them, which will prove vital to the team’s success this season.

Co-captain Nicole Ritchie '09 is one of two upperclassman on a young and talented women's team.

Sophomores Kirsten Gill (Jackson, N.H.) and Megan McClelland (Keene Valley, N.Y.) have shown some great potential after having spent a year on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association circuit, and both women will look to compete for a spot at this year’s NCAA Championships.

First-years Dayna Stimson (Crowley Lake, Calif.) and Sophie Leonard (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) both hail from the West Coast and have raced well at previous Junior Olympic Championships. First-year Eastern natives Caitlin Curran (Waitsfield, Vt.) and Beth Taylor (Norwich, Vt.) also have previous success at the Junior Olympic level. These women have looked solid in fall training and are expected to have strong seasons.

Fifteenth-year head coach Becky Woods, along with assistants Jordi St. John and Bob Flynn, are looking forward to an exciting season and some great results from their men and women.