Plenty of positives for York’s skiers after dry slope nationals

Ski captain reviews last weekend’s British University Dry Slope Championships in Edinburgh, with York enjoying a mixed bag in the two-day snowports festival…

York University Snowsports enjoyed a mixed bag of results this weekend as they attended the British University Dry Slope Championships (BUDs) in Edinburgh; a two-day snowports festival run by the British University Snowsports Council with some 1500 students in attendance.

With BUCS points available for individual races in skiing slalom and giant slalom as well as snowboard giant slalom, the pressure was on for YUsnow, one of York’s largest sports clubs, to show what they were really made of. Things started excellently, as freshers Marlies Neuner and Max Potter finished 10th and 12th respectively in the snowboard GS, just a few places off the top five and BUCS points.

Snowboard captain Kate Hicks, who finished in 34th in the ladies race, was particularly pleased with her team: ‘to have two newcomers gain such great results speaks very highly of the talent in this team. I’m very proud of them.’ Things have been going very well for the snowboard team of late, and they find themselves at the top of their regional league and on the verge of running away with the title. Neuner also made the final 16 in the non-BUCS snowboard cross event.

A slightly more frustrating time was endured by York’s skiers, who – having enjoyed a tremendous season last year – have had some difficulty carrying their form over into the new season. In the individual slalom, a string of mistakes saw a number of YUsnow’s racers struggle to finish the course.

It wasn’t all bad, however, as YUsnow President Katy Huckle finished in 21st place out of some 300 female competitors. Huckle’s skiing has come on leaps-and-bounds in recent months, and this result served as a warning to the number of nationally-ranked racers she beat to finish in such a high standing.

Ladies in the gate for the snowboard GS

Newly-appointed vice-captain James Lodge also finished inside the top 40, a credible result considering the 2nd year student has only recently taken up ski racing and this was his first national competition.

In the giant slalom things didn’t go much better. Captain Max Hardy was one of the few YUsnow racers to finish, but still made an early error before making a partial recovery to finish in 30th place.
The highlight of the weekend’s competition was undoubtedly the team dual slalom event, where two university teams of five competitors raced alongside one another in relay. The snowboard team started well, beating rivals Manchester 1sts to get the final 16. Sadly Surrey proved too strong in the following round, and the team were eliminated after a very successful weekend.

In the skiing team event – which YUsnow consider one of their strongest disciplines – time constraints saw the competition cut from 82 teams to just 16, excluding York 2nds and very nearly York 1sts as well, as poor individual results left them ranked 17th. Luckily, the late withdrawal of Sheffield 1sts meant YUsnow were selected to compete as first reserves, and they lined up for the round of 16 in a local derby with Leeds 1sts. Leading after a strong first leg from Vice-President Ben Corbey, YUsnow quickly forced Leeds into making a couple of critical mistakes, and the rest of the team duly converted the opportunity into victory.

Reigning champions Bristol 1sts would be York’s opponents in the quarter finals, and matching such a strong side was a tall order indeed. YUsnow’s best result in recent memory – last year’s defeat of Bristol at the British University Snowsports Championships en route to a podium finish – had not been forgotten by either side as they readied themselves to do battle once more.

Corbey and Michael Perkins again ran strong legs against Bristol’s racers, and Hardy made up a small deficit in the third leg to force a lead as James Lodge took to the course. Lodge performed admirably, matching Bristol’s Bill Latham – one of best slalom racers at university level – for some time, before an unfortunate mistake forced York out of the race.

It was an excellent race for York who now look forward to getting onto their preferred surface – real snow – and trying to grab some valuable BUCS points.

As Bristol’s supporters ran on to the slope to mob their skiers, a disheartened York team couldn’t be blamed for thinking that, just for a moment, they had had the beating of the English champions.