“The Fab Four” is our new nickname for the UConn men’s ski team.
Yes, the team that had never made it to the National Championships in its more than 40-year history finished fourth in the country.
It was a true team effort. Three freshmen and two seniors stepped up to carry UConn through the regionals and into the finals.
In the GS, Griffin Struyk finished 26th among the top college racers in the U.S. Bobby Chambers came in 32nd and Luke Wiles scored with a 39th place.
In the Championship Slalom, Struyk was again the top dog, placing 14th place among the 112 racers. Senior Steve Brown, once a member of the UConn football team, picked up the team with a 37th place showing, and Chambers finished 39th. Senior Mark Nebraska, in his final college race, finished next for the Huskies in 41st.
Out of 19 teams in the championships, UConn finished fifth in the GS and ninth in the slalom team scoring. The Huskies ended the season fourth in the National Combined standings.
It is interesting to note that three of the top four teams in the championships came from the MacConnell Division. Teams that battled all season to qualify for the big dance were near the top at the end.
The overall winner in the 2014 National College Championships was Sierra Nevada College. Second place went to Clarkson University, with former Southington High racer Austin Florian on the team. Castleton State College finished third.
“At the beginning of the season no one expected us to qualify for the nationals,” UConn coach and Southington native Larry Gianatti said. “When we did, they expected us to be a 10th or 15th place team at the big event. After the fifth in the GS, some observers were wondering who we were, and when the final standings came out many were surprised.”
“This has been a great season,” Gianatti said, “and the racers came together to support each other and keep the team moving ahead. The freshmen will get better and experience will help the whole team. With a taste of the big time, they’ll be motivated to do it again.”
While the college teams were still at Lake Placid, several 12- and 13 year-old boys from the Mount Southington Ski Team were at Stowe, Vermont for the U-14 Eastern Championships.
Racing against 110 boys from around the northeast, Ben Emerson led the local boys, finishing the slalom in ninth place. Emerson was in fourth after the morning round, but faltered in the afternoon.
Among the other local boys, Tyler Coenraads finished 40th and John Emerson came in at 49th place. Caleb Richert and Eddie Kaftan both exploded off the course in the morning run and took did-not-finishes for the day.