On Saturday, April 7, 2001, the three members of HBS’s Team Ligament Damage took on nearly 200 other skiers on the infamous Outer Limits at Killington Mountain. What began as an innocent joke was about to become a harsh reality for these three second-years.
After the Snowball on Friday night it required an enormous amount of effort for the team members to make it to registration on time. Luckily, Andy Stevenson still can’t sleep so he was able to rally team member Jeff Wordham and Pete November miraculously made it on his own.
Prior to the race the contestants were allowed a few hours of practice on the actual course, however things didn’t go as planned. Although Jeff had a few decent runs, Pete never made it without falling and Andy wasn’t able to keep it together at all. As the team rested in the lodge the nerves began kick in and Jeff had to sleep on the floor to keep himself from getting sick, obviously from the stress and not the previous night’s activities. After the power nap the team headed back up the hill to watch those before them and catch up with their fellow HBS students who came out to encourage them. Just before their numbers were called they said good-bye and took the 10-minute ride to the top to see what was going to happen.
For a little history, Team Ligament Damage was formed with one common theme- STUPIDTY. All three have had ACL reconstruction and still seem to think skiing in a bump race was a good idea, although Jeff and Andy insist they were convinced at a moment of weakness (Pete still adamantly denies any wrongdoing on his part).
As they readied themselves at the top other contestants could hear how nervous the group was. In fact some of the competitors refused to even wait near them. Finally, it was time and they approached the start. Unfortunately, Andy’s draw put him in a tough spot. He had to follow 10 year Ben Zuppa. Now many people would see this as an opportunity, however, Ben was the leader of his age group on the Killington Freestyle Team- Better Luck Next Year Andy. As Ben navigated the way down the course you could hear the crowd get behind him. In fact the 1000’s of fans erupted as he completed a perfectly executed helicopter off the last jump. Oh well, Racer Ready…3…2…1? Andy’s turn was here.
Andy started the course and was able to navigate the top without falling. As he had the suffered the most recent knee injury on the team he decided the best course of action was to pass the jumps and sacrifice that 30% of the score. As he went around the first one he could hear the announcers get on him. “Come on, the 10 year-old can go off the jumps and you can’t!!!” At which point every fan there for Ben turned against Andy. Fortunately, although Andy wasn’t able to jump he was able to put together a good time and style points to get a point total of 11.05.
Next came Jeff. He also started strong and performed well on the top portion of the course. After perfectly executing the ever difficult Spread Eagle you could see the confidence build and the speed increase for the second jump. Unfortunately, the twister threw him off balance and he crashed upon landing-right in front of the HBS crowd. This left him on a tough spot and although he finished strong it was going to be tough to recover from this.
Finally, Pete was ready to go. The starter couldn’t help but hear the fans start the “Pete November Song” by Jim Wilder and he knew he had another crowd favorite on hand. As he perfectly executed the top of the course you could hear the fans yell and scream. As he went over the first jump he managed a perfect November (For those inexperienced in skiing this is when you do absolutely nothing other than ski over the jump). Now Pete gathered speed and did his Spread Eagle over the second jump and left it up to the judges to decide. Would they reward Andy’s speed or Pete’s air and superior skiing ability? It was going to be tough but he was confident.
The racers then joined their friends for a celebratory beer (only one I swear) and awaited the news. Finally the judges came back. Pete edged Andy out by over a point with a total of 12.50 taking with him the HBS Mogul Gold. Andy was left to wonder about whether or not the knee could handle the jump and a Silver while poor Jeff was comforted by the fact that he went for it and came home with the Bronze. Luckily they were all victorious because not one of them returned to campus on crutches- Way to go Boys and next year watch out BEN.