The Plymouth State University men’s and women’s ski teams will be among the favorites this weekend at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association’s Eastern Regional Championships at Waterville Valley.
The championships are slated for Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 19-20) at Waterville, with the slalom set for Saturday and the giant slalom on Sunday. The top five men’s and women’s teams in the combined alpine will advance to the USCSA National Championships on March 8-12, at Sun Valley, Idaho.
The Panther men’s squad is seeking its third straight eastern regional title, including a sweep of the slalom and giant slalom at last year’s championships. The PSU men are also coming off a superb regular season campaign on the MacConnell Division circuit, having won the team title after capturing eight of the nine alpine events. The PSU women’s team finished fourth at the regionals last year and is looking for its first regional title since 2001. The Panthers were runner-up in the MacConnell Division during this winter’s regular season, with three team victories in nine races.
There should be several Plymouth State skiers at the top of the individual leader board in all races this weekend. Leading the way are sophomores Martina Ryberg and Chris Beadon, who captured the women’s and men’s MacConnell Division regular season titles this winter.
Ryberg is the defending regional champion in the slalom, giant slalom and combined, and she dominated the MacConnell Division this winter with seven victories in nine races. Beadon won the men’s GS title at last year’s regionals and finished third in the slalom to share the combined alpine crown, and he won this year’s regular season title after finishing in the top three in eight out of nine races.
Beadon will have plenty of support with him as the Panthers seek a national title, particularly senior Peter Ostroski (Intervale) and sophomore Parker Spear. Ostroski is a nine-time All-American and two-time regional champion who finished in the top eight in all 40 races of his regular season career, and Spear has made an impact this season, finishing fourth in the individual division rankings with one victory and six top 10 finishes. Senior Travis Nevins (Henniker) is also a two-time All-American and veteran postseason skier who tied for fifth at last year’s regionals, and junior Tom Sampson (Plymouth) earned a spot on the postseason squad with a strong regular season, finishing 12th in the rankings.
Joining Ryberg on the PSU women’s postseason contingent will be juniors Kait Pawlak and Katherine Goller and freshmen Marley Pawlak, Leigh Anne Connors, and Kali St. Laurent (Manchester). Kait Pawlak is a two-time All-American and cousin Marley Pawlak is the top newcomer on the team, and they finished 14th and 16th on the MacConnell Division regular season circuit.
The Panthers are led by veteran ski racing coach Andrew Gannon, who is in his first year at PSU, and long-time Panther assistant Dave Gyger.