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Nordic skiing preview: women return strong veteran core

Natalie Ruppertsberger '11 got the carnival season off to a great start, finishing sixth in the 5K Classical race. (File photo by Lincoln Benedict '09)

The Bates Nordic team looks to have another strong season, with a lot of experience headlining the women’s team, and a young, but competitive, men’s team.













The women’s side is led by senior co-captains Natalie Ruppertsberger (Plainfield, N.H.) and Megan McClelland (Keene Valley, N.Y.). Ruppertsberger will look to qualify for her third-straight NCAA Collegiate Ski Championships and improve upon her 18th-place finish in the classic race at Steamboat Springs, Colo., last March. Ruppertsberger finished the EISA season with six top-ten finishes and two in the top five, earning Second Team All-East honors.

Also posting top-10 finishes for the Bobcats last winter were senior Kirsten Gill (Jackson, N.H.) with a 10th-place at Williams Carnival, and junior Beth Taylor (Norwich, Vt.), who ended last season with three consecutive top-15 finishes, including a 9th at the Eastern Championships. Senior Ingrid Knowles (Cumberland, Maine), junior Kelsey Dion (Truckee, Calif.), and sophomore Gretchen Sellegren (Bozeman, Mont.) all return with solid carnival racing experience.

On the men’s side, sophomore Lucas Milliken (North Yarmouth, Maine) leads a young, motivated squad. Milliken ended last season with a 14th-place finish at the Eastern Championships. He is joined by a strong first-year class of Jordan Buetow (Fairbanks, Alaska), Peter Cowan (Bethel, Maine), Alex Hamilton (Truckee, Calif.), and Sean Woods (Gypsum, Colo.). The trio of junior Jimmy Burnham (Carlisle, Mass.) and sophomores Nate Fuller (Freeport, Maine) and Danny Kuzio (Moretown, Vt.) also bring valuable collegiate racing experience.

The team has been preparing all fall with runs in Thorncrag and Pineland as well as rollerskiing in the surrounding areas. The team has also held three training camps throughout the fall in preparation for the race season. The first was the annual Fall Break camp held in Rangeley, Maine. It consisted of five solid days of training, including several annual fitness tests. In November, the team headed north to Northeast Harbor and Acadia National Park for a quick weekend camp. Highlights included rollerskiing along the coast and a hike through Acadia. Finally, for the Thanksgiving week break, the team again headed north, this time to Canada. The group was able to spend a week on snow at Foret Montmorency, staying in nearby Stoneham.

After this strong fall of dry-land and on-snow training, both the men and the women are poised to have strong results this season. Racing begins in earnest over the holiday break. Some of the team will travel to Craftsbury, Vt., for the Eastern Cup openers on December 18-19. The team will then return to campus at New Year’s for training and, for many, racing at US Nationals, which are to be held this year at Bates’ own home course of Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine, Jan. 2-8.

The team will then begin the collegiate race season the following weekend, Jan. 14-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Eastern circuit culminates at the NCAA East Regional Championships, hosted this year by Bates. Alpine events will be held at Sunday River, and Nordic will be back at Black Mountain. The season comes to an end at the NCAA National Championships, hosted this season by the University of Vermont at Stowe, Vt.

-- Contributed by Assistant Coach Martin Benes '07