“And here she comes, straight and fast through the finish, Kelly McBroom for Montana State…”
Montana State? In Middlebury?
It’s not every day you hear skiers from the western schools announced over the loudspeaker at Middlebury’s Snow Bowl. But today is not every day.
Wednesday morning marked the start of the 2013 NCAA Championship for both alpine and Nordic skiing, hosted this year by Middlebury.
“It’s been a long time in the works,” said an appropriately bundled Director of Athletics Erin Quinn, who stood among a crowd of other fans at the finish line, watching the first of the women’s giant slalom runs. “We’ve been prepping for this for more than a year, and it’s just a great feeling to have the day finally be here—and the weather cooperating!”
Indeed, an overcast day with slight flurries and temps in the 20s made for the perfect race day. According to one finisher from New Mexico, “It was a little windy at the top, but most of us really like these conditions.” Another skier, from the University of Denver and a native of New Hampshire, was excited to be back East skiing among old friends. “This is awesome,” she gushed, fresh over the line. “Middlebury’s a great hill. And such a fun town! We’ve tried a different sandwich shop every day—so far we like Noonie’s the best.”
Waiting for their daughter Anne to race, Rocky and Betsy Rockwell from Moosehead Lake, Maine, were well prepared for the day in warm Bates hats and scarves—including the one on their dog. “This is a trip,” said Rocky. “It’s a dream for these college kids to make it to this day. It’s Anne’s first time here. She might’ve been a little nervous.”
At the foot of the chairlift, a giant flat screen TV captured each skier as she sped through the gates. Once she was visible in person on the lower half of the mountain, the cheers and clanging cowbells were deafening.
Inside the lodge, the temperature was warmer but the atmosphere just as frantic. Skiers stretched, changed uniforms, inhaled egg sandwiches, and prepped for their second runs on the GS course. Snow Bowl staff were busy answering questions and generally enjoying the excitement of the day—and days to come. “It’s wonderful to see so many faces from so far away,” said Susie Davis, director of the Snow School. Ticket master Don Swenor, with his characteristic smile, said the best part of the day was “everything happening outside on the mountain,” and added, “It ought to happen every five years instead of ten.”
Upstairs, tucked in a corner room with a clear view of the course, Doug Lewis, a former Olympian alpine skier and local Vermonter, announced each skier’s progress from start to finish with the flair and ease of a seasoned commentator. A sign hastily taped to the half-open door requested “Silence please, no cells or electronic devices.”
With only a few skiers left to go, he finally announced Anne Rockwell from Bates, whose parents waited so patiently at the finish. “And she’s looking smooth at the start…bing bang she’s through the midway gates…a little thin at the bottom…and that’s 1:05.89 at the line.”
She was 26th after that first run, 29th overall—not bad for a first outing among some of her most talented peers. Her parents were beaming.
For more details on the NCAA Championships, please use these links: