By Bob York
When it comes to prep school sports in this neck of the woods, there are no three words that have a nicer ring to them than “New England champs!” After this past winter, however, the Big Green ski teams came up with a close second: “Man-made snow.”
“Those snow guns really saved us this winter,” said Deerfield Academy ski coach Jodi Tanguay of a season that saw Mother Nature drop the ball as far as snowfall was concerned. “And the people up there at Proctor Academy … which hosted this year’s championships … did an outstanding job in preparing the slopes.”
Indeed they did. By the time the hosts had completed manicuring the ski area in a carpet of white, it looked more like a red carpet to the Big Green, and both its boys and girls squads followed it all the way to the medals podium as they successfully defended their Division I titles at New England Prep School Alpine Skiing Championships.
For the Big Green, snatching up medals has become as commonplace at these New England summit meetings as snapping on ski boots. Over the past decade, the boys have now earned medals on eight occasions: three gold, three silver and a pair of bronze. The girls, meanwhile, have rung up five medals during that same span, collecting four gold and one silver while they have placed fourth on three other occasions.
“I knew we had the talent to win it all again,” said Tanguay, “but getting that talent down the hill without making a mistake is easier said than done.” Fortunately for the Deerfield skipper, it wasn’t. Everyone in Green who went to the top, made it to the bottom – and not on their bottoms. And when the final tally was taken, the word DEERFIELD had been placed atop both fields of competition. The boys led the way with 38 points, while Kimball Union Academy was second with 54, and Belmont Hill was third with 69. The Big Green topped the girls’ listings with 34 points, as Northfield Mount Hermon School and St. Paul’s School registered 52 and 58 points respectively.
And while we’re on the subject of championships, it was status quo for both teams during the Mount Institute Ski League this season, as the Deerfield girls captured their 12th consecutive title, while the boys finished up with their eighth crown in the past nine years.
As expected, the name Stobierski once again stole the show at this year’s New England championships. Last year, as a junior, Jack Stobierski won both the slalom and giant slalom races and as a sophomore, he placed first in the slalom and third in the giant slalom. This year, however, the elder Stobierski opted to take his skiing talents to the Mt. Mansfield Winter Academy, a ski school in Stowe, Vt. And so, it was Stobierski’s little sister, Lauren (14), who kept her family’s name in the headlines this year, as she finished first in both the slalom (63.05) and the giant slalom (75.29).
“I was really nervous in the slalom, which was our first event,” admitted Stobierski. “I knew if we were to have any shot at defending our championship, I’d have to have a good day.”
And the pressure and nerves quickly grew as her first run found Stobierski in second place, .45 of a second off the pace. Her second run put the nervousness out of the way for the day, however, as her time of 31.88 proved to be the best of the event to win by a whopping 3/100ths of a second.
“In the giant slalom. I just took Jack’s advice. He told me to ‘just ski fast and don’t worry about a thing.’” And sure enough, Stobierski’s first run of 37.61 proved the best time of the day, as she coasted to victory in just under a second.
Stobierski had plenty of help squashing the competition, as two other teammates finished in the top 10, while two others registered top 20 finishes in the slalom competition. In the giant slalom, meanwhile, the Deerfield girls had four skiers in the top 20. Annika Trapness (13) finished third in the slalom (64.83) and was ninth in the giant slalom in 77.50, while Beth Lawless wound up seventh in the slalom at 68.11 and 13th in the giant slalom in 79.91. Signe Ahl (15) and Marly Morgus (12) rounded out the slalom finishes at 13th and 17th at 71.25 and 73.25 respectively. Finishing up in the giant slalom were Morgus in 18th (80:56) and Ahl in 26th (81.90).
“Lauren had an outstanding season for herself, even before she got to the New England meet,” said Tanguay of Stobierski, who finished atop the girls division of the Mount Institute Ski League for the second consecutive season and would later receive the Brooke Gonzalez Award as the team’s outstanding female skier for the second straight year. “And then she had the kind of championship meet every skier dreams about … sweeping both the slalom and giant slalom.”
Dylan Alvarez (13) was the leader for the Big Green boys squad at the New England meet — and was later voted recipient of the Scott Kelnberger Award as the boys’ Most Valuable Skier – as he produced a second-place finish in the slalom in a clocking of 55.77 – just 1.02 seconds off the winning time – and a fourth spot in the giant slalom in 67.55 and a No.1 ranking in the boys’ standings of the MISL.
Oliver Hopkinson (12), who won this year’s Parker Award, placed seventh in the slalom (59.51) and sixth in the giant slalom at 67.97, while Peter Stobierski (14) was 10th in the slalom at 60.20, while Reed Horton (14) wrapped things up for Deerfield, placing 47th in 82.25. Jack Paul (14) and Horton placed ninth and 10th in the giant slalom with respective times of 68.62 and 68.90, as Stobierski pulled in 16th in 70.11.
“I think the real key to our success this season was our depth,” said Tanguay, “and our finishes at the New England meet are a great example of that depth. “The boys placed three skiers in the top 10 in the slalom, while all five were among the first 16 racers to complete the giant slalom.
“As for the girls, all five of our competitors were among the top 17 finishers,” added the Big Green coach, “while the giant slalom saw four of our kids finish in the top 18. That’s pretty good skiing, especially when you consider the pressure they’re under. Just one mistake and you’re walking across the finish line.”
Deerfield, which has tuned up for the New England meet by competing in the MISL, has dominated the league over the past decade. And this winter, the Big Green really flexed its muscles. The final individual standings saw Deerfield place six of its boys in the top seven slots, while five of its girls placed in the top nine.
Alvarez, Hopkinson, Horton and Stobierski finished in the top four respectively, while Sam Armstrong (15) was sixth and ZZ Salvador (14) was seventh. For the girls, Stobierski, Trapness and Lawless were one through three, Morgus was seventh, while Ahl was ninth.
Captains for next year’s teams will be selected at the beginning of the season.