By BOB YORK –
Deerfield Academy lost its mountain mojo.
The Big Green saw its two-year reign as king – and queen – of the hill reach the finish line this winter, as both squads came up short in defending their crowns at the New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class A Alpine Skiing Championships, which were held at Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vt.
Although it was unable to ring up a three-peat, the boys team still managed to collect a bronze medal on the day, giving the Big Green squad a pass to the medals podium for a fifth consecutive year. Belmont Hill School knocked Deerfield from its pedestal by chalking up 42 points. Berkshire School then added to Deerfield’s woes by finishing second with a 58-point effort. The Big Green, meanwhile, was a distant third in the 16-team field with 77 points.
The girls ledger saw Deerfield wind up fifth with 89 points, as Kimball Union Academy paced a dozen schools to the gold medal with 50 points on the day. Noble and Greenough School won a tiebreaker with Northfield Mount Hermon School for the second and third spots respectively, as both finished with 59 points. To show just how closely these races were contested and how – in just the blink of an eye – a team can go from winning gold to winning nothing at all, the total time for the top three finishers of each school was compared. The difference was nearly infinitesimal, but Nobles took second on the clock: 757.58 to 758.18.
“We just weren’t the dominating force that we’ve been over the past couple of years,” explained coach Jodi Tanguay. “We had to really work to get the results that we came up with this winter.”
Individually, the Big Green won three of the four races that were up for grabs during this winter’s prep school skiing summit. Lauren Stobierski (’14) once again not only paved the way for the Big Green girls, but led all 58 competitors from 12 schools in both races. She captured the slalom event for the third consecutive year, with a time of 94.62, while she took the giant slalom (138.55) for the second straight year and earned the team’s Brooke Gonzalez ’97 Cup as the girls team’s MVP. As a team, however, Deerfield’s overall lack of depth saw it finish fifth in both races.
“The girls team was extremely small this season,” said Tanguay. “In fact, we had five skiers in total, and some of them were skiing for the first time this year. With so few skiers, we needed every one to start and everyone to finish their races … and they did.
“When you factor in the lack of depth and the lack of experience we were dealing with,” added Tanguay, “I feel the girls had a great season.”
“I’m very happy that I was able to repeat in both the slalom and giant slalom,” said Stobierski. “We all knew that we’d have a tough time defending our team championship this season, so I think that took a lot of pressure off everyone and allowed us to just go out there and ski the best we could. I feel fortunate that I didn’t miss any gates and was still standing when I got to the finish line in both the races. I knew if I could do that, then I’d be in pretty good shape.”
The boys ledger saw Dylan Alvarez (’13), who won this year’s J. Scott Kelnberger ’79 Most Valuable Skier Award, improve on last year’s second-place finish in the slalom by scribbling his name atop its time sheet this winter. He bested 76 other skiers to the finish line in a time of 83.24, helping give Deerfield a third-place finish in that event. The giant slalom, where Alvarez finished fourth last year, wasn’t as kind to the Deerfield senior this time around, as he fell and finished 42nd.
“Jack Paul (’14) and Sam Armstrong (’15) came to the rescue, however,” explained Tanguay. They both skied fantastic races … they had to … if they hadn’t had those clean runs, it would have been pretty hard for us to have finished any better than third.”
Both came through in fine style to secure top-10 finishes, however. Paul placed fourth in 138.72, while Armstrong was sixth at 138.85 to land the Big Green a fourth-place spot in race.
The boys slalom competition saw Deerfield place four of its skiers within the top 20 to get a leg up on a field of 77 competitors. In addition to Alvarez, Peter Stobierski (’14), the recipient of this winter’s Doug Parker Trophy, placed ninth in 89.72, while Armstrong was 15th in 92.71 and Madison Baker (’15) 19th at 95.52.
The results for the Deerfield girls in both the slalom and giant slalom were nearly identical. Stobierski finished first in both, while Alexa Murray (15) was 18th in both races, with times of 111.20 in the slalom and 153.18 in the giant slalom. Signe Ahl (15) meanwhile, was 25th in the slalom (115.98) and 26th in the giant slalom (1553.18).
During the Mount Institute Ski League season, or what serves as the regular season for Deerfield’s skiers, the Big Green boys captured the league crown for the third straight year and finished atop the final standings for the ninth time in the past decade. The boys earned 59 points on the season to outlast Northfield Mount Hermon School, which placed second with 55 points and Eaglebrook School, the third-place finisher with 52 points.
The girls, meanwhile, finished second in the final standings, marking the first time since 2001 that they failed clinch the crown. Northfield Mount Hermon School led the charge with 59 points, while Deerfield finished second with 38, one point better than Miss Hall’s School (37).
On the individual ledger, Deerfield boasted the blue-ribbon winners in both campaigns. Alverez captured the boys competition for the second straight season by knocking off 68 other competitors with 420 points. Lauren Stobierski is also well versed in medaling in the MISL, besting all comers to take the girls competition for the third consecutive winter with 315 points.
Baker helped the boys’ cause by placing fifth, just five points shy of a visit to the medals podium, while Armstrong slipped into the top 10 as well with an eighth-place finish. Two other teammates, Reilly Simmons (14) and Peter Stobierski made it into the top 20, with stops at 16 and 18 respectively.
In addition to Stobierski, whose first-place MISL finish earned her the Amy Spencer Cup for the third straight year, Ahl finished 10th in a field of 39, which was good enough for 272 points, while Murray was 11th to add 270 points to the Big Green’s cause. Cara Kennedy Cuomo (13), who won this year’s Philip H. Ball Jr. Ski Trophy, wound up 16th on the final ledger, while Bea Madersbacher Elde (15) was 19th.