At the end of February, the HBS Ski Team traveled to Hanover, NH to compete against more than fifteen other business schools at Tuck’s annual Winter Carnival. After placing second at the 2003 Carnival, the HBS Team arrived with high expectations.
Clearly, Tuck was the team to beat. Not only did Tuck have the home-course advantage – the race took place at the Dartmouth Skiway, a resort owned by Dartmouth University where the Tuck team practiced for weeks – but also Tuck’s warm welcome served to undermine the HBS squad, among other teams. Beginning with Friday’s registration happy hour to the ‘Battle of the Bands’ party held later that night, the superb Tuck hospitality incapacitated many competitors.
Though a bit groggy, the HBS team arrived at the Skiway at 8 am Saturday morning ready to compete. In the first heat, both HBS Teams performed well. On the HBS A team, Kevin O’Brien (NI) skied an aggressive 19.91 second run, achieving the third fastest time in the first run and placing only .13 seconds behind the leader, Sean Grennan of Wharton. Co-captain Dave Robinson (OC) also slid into the Top 20 with a strong 22.02 finish. Kanji Takenaka (NB) led the HBS B team with a first-run time of 23.93 seconds, supported by a solid run from teammate Jannike Aase (OF) at 29.18. Overall, after the first race the HBS A and B teams held fifth and fourth places in their respective flights.
For the afternoon heat, the HBS skiers hoped to improve on their morning performances, yet the conditions of the course dictated otherwise. With 210 skiers participating in the competition, course conditions deteriorated rapidly, becoming icy and rutted. Racing first for the A team, Anne Ristau (NA) completed the second run, but finished seconds off her first heat time of 28.95. Skiing second, Co-Captain Carolyn Weinberg (OD) exploded out of the gates and dominated the first half of the course. However, as she sped into the turn around the third-to-last gate, Carolyn’s ski popped off, throwing her off the course. Following Carolyn, Dave Robinson (OC), Kevin O’Brien (NI), Stefan Haselwandter (NC), and Shawn Dinsmore (NI) all shared the same fate, losing control at exactly the same turn and dashing hopes for an HBS come-from-behind victory.
After inspecting the course, a race official declared, “it’s a tough turn, but nothing is wrong with the course.” Later in the afternoon, a female skier from Darden suffered a severe injury (initially reported to be a broken leg) at that exact spot. Carolyn Weinberg (OD) commented, “I was disappointed that Tuck was negligent with course maintenance and our A team skiers did not get a fair second race.”
The HBS B Team fared much better, with five of the six team members completing the course. Dave Levenson (OC) led the team in the second heat, followed closely by Craig Lichtenstein (OB). Sectionmates and teammates Jannike Aase (OF), Katie Spayde (OF), and Connor Herr (OF) all finished the difficult course within two seconds of their morning times on the faster red course.
In the final scoring, the Tuck men and women swept the team and individual placements. Though the HBS teams did not win any awards (nor did the team continue last year’s tradition of skiing naked), the first-year skiers are prepared to do so next year (win awards, that is).
“Next year, we’ll bring blades for the second run,” promised Stefan Haselwandter (NC), who is slated to be a Co-Captain in 2005 along with Kevin O’Brien (NI) and Anne Ristau (NA). Haselwandter and O’Brien are involved in the formation of the soon-to-be-launched HBS Ski Club which plans to organize trials and training sessions ahead of the race. O’Brien added, “All I know is that we’ll do what it takes to beat Tuck…”