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Clarkson ski teams competing at USCSA Nationals

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POTSDAM - Historically some of the top teams in the United States Collegiate Ski Association (USCSA), both the Clarkson University Alpine Ski and Nordic Ski teams are returning to the USCSA Nationals this week where they will vie for top honors in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Last year, the Golden Knights Alpine team had their best finishes ever, with the women placing third overall and the men taking fifth. This will is the seventh straight year that the men have reached the USCSA Nationals, while the women are making their fifth straight appearance. There are far fewer teams on the Nordic side, but that hasn’t kept the Golden Knights’ men from reaching the nationals every year since 1985, while the women have traveled for the championships every year since 1997, with both teams claiming the USCSA National titles in 2012.

The USCSA Nationals begin this morning. The Alpine schedule will begin on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s giant slalom. The men’s giant slalom will take place on Wednesday, and the women’s slalom and men’s slalom will go on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

For the Nordic team, events will start today at 9 a.m. with the sprint event. On Wednesday the 8.5K Classic race begins at 9 a.m. Thursday is an off day for the cross country skiers, but they will return for the 15K Freestyle race on Friday and the 15K Relay on Saturday.

Clarkson’s Alpine Ski team had four men place in the top 10 this season in the MacConnell Division, led by junior Christian Perryman (West Lebanon, NY). Perryman had seven top 10 finishes this year, including a pair of victories, one of only two Clarkson skiers to take the top spot in any events this year. Freshman Sean Donohue (Bolton Landing, NY) had six different top-five showings, including three runners-up placements. Sophomore Alex Slemp (Clifton Park, NY) posted a pair of victories during 2013 and ended up in sixth-place in the MacConnell Division during the season.

Senior David Simon (Montvale, NJ) was a late entry for the Knights, but came back strong after missing the first six events of the season. Even with his late start, Simon placed in 31st among all MacConnell Division skiers, and even placed seventh at the USCSA Eastern Regionals in the giant slalom.

Those four will participate in both events at the USCSA Nationals, while a pair of specialists will also make the trip. Junior Chris Gero (St. Albans, VT) will participate in the giant slalom on Wednesday, having finished in the upper half of the participants at the USCSA Eastern Regionals, while freshman Austin Florian (Southington, CT) came in fourth in the slalom at the same event. Florian also had five top-10 finishes during the regular season overall.

The women made impressive strides late in the season last year and appear to be on the same path in 2013. Freshmen Ashley Yoviene (Boston, NY) and Kelly Rowland (West Windsor, NJ) were the only two skiers to place in the top 15 overall in the MacConnell Division, but that pair as well as freshman Taylor Manderson (Ballston Spa, NY), sophomore Mycala Stebbins (Canandaigua, NY) and junior Sarah Shafer (Petoskey, MI) all posted top-20 finishes in one of the two events at the USCSA Eastern Regionals. Yoviene was the top skier with a pair of top 10 showings, but four of the five skiers all led the Knights at one point during the 2013 season.

Inconvenient thaws and poor weather limited the Nordic schedule in 2013, but the Golden Knights were up to task as usual. Both the men’s and women’s team will be siphoned down from their regular season squads for championship purposes as 10 skiers will travel to Idaho for Clarkson.

The men’s team will be led by senior Andrew Klem (Dalton, MA), who posted victories in both the 8.5K Classic and 15K Skate at the ECSC/USCSA Regionals in late-February. Klem also took second place in the Sprint Skate race and has his eyes on the top spot overall at the Nationals. He will have plenty of competition from his teammates, though none have the same overall resume that Klem has over the season. Freshman Eric Mallery (Webster, NY), junior Nick Marshall (Huntington, VT), and senior Zach Russo (Fayston, VT) placed two through four at the ECSC Regional in the 8.5K Classic, while Russo and Mallery took third and fifth, respectively, in the Sprint Skate. The 15K Skate was dominated by the Knights as well, and sophomore Adam Merkwan (Meredith, NH) showed his ability by taking second in that event. Overall, Clarkson could spend plenty of time on the podium with a wide variety of combinations from the five competitors.

The women’s races also have numerous possibilities, led by freshman Ashley Forshey (Scotia, NY). Forshey won the Sprint Skate event at the ECSC Regionals and also won the endurance 15K Skate event.

Challenging her in both events was teammate Olivia Dawson (Scottsville, NY). The sophomore took second place in both events and was fourth in the 8.5K Classic event, too, and certainly could claim one of the titles this week. Additionally, all season long sophomore Taryn Dausman (Syracuse, NY), junior Eleanor Vane (Fairport, NY) and junior Erin Corrigan (Remsen, NY) have added plenty of top five finishes and will fill out a strong roster that could come away with the USCSA National title.

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