Ski notebook

Some rankled by rankings

Critics out west question UVM

By Tony Chamberlain and T.D. Thornton
Globe Correspondent / February 17, 2011

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With the NCAA season in full swing, the question of power rankings is still raising some hackles among the western skiers who question if the University of Vermont belongs on top.

Ski Racing Magazine, which ranks the collegiate scene each year, places UVM No. 1, ahead of the University of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Denver. Ski Racing’s Bryce Hubner reports he has had many calls and e-mails from western fans who question the placement of the Catamounts ahead of teams in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association.

“It’s impossible to argue that EISA [Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association] has the same depth as RMISA, but we have to add that UVM skiers have already gone up against the west’s best in non-NCAA action on a bunch of occasions this year,’’ Hubner said. “You’ll find Catamounts like Kate Ryley and Jonathan Nordbotten trading blows with the same alpiners who rule RMISA – and in some cases badly beating North American national team skiers.

“RMISA is deeper and has more contenders than EISA,’’ he said, “but based on what we’ve seen so far, UVM continues to earn top honors.’’

Denver has captured the last three championships, with Dartmouth winning in 2007.

ESIA skiing continues this weekend at the Middlebury Carnival, then wraps up its regular season the following weekend at Bates College. The national championships take place March 9-12 in Vermont, with the Alpine events at Stowe and the Nordic at Trapp Family Lodge.

Americans bounced Despite a high ranking, the US team was ousted yesterday from the Nations’ Team event at the Alpine World Championships in Garmische-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The event, which pits teams together in a March Madness-style ladder, skiing parallel courses, was won by France, with Austria second and Sweden taking the bronze. The US squad, led by Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso, and Sarah Schleper, had a bye in the first round because of its high seed.

But in the semifinals, only Miller won his heat against Cristian Deville as Italy eliminated the US before losing to Sweden. “It’s a cool event and I like the format,’’ said Ligety. “It’s fun to watch and fun to race, but our scheduling in ski racing is so tight that throwing this in the middle of a championship is always hard.’’

Storm brewing The eighth annual Kitestorm will take to the skies of Vermont above frozen Lake Champlain Feb. 26-27. This ever-growing winter fixture features races, clinics, demonstrations, and prize drawings for both experienced kiters and newcomers. A mix between surfing, skiing, and sailing, snowkiters can achieve speeds of more than 60 miles per hour and heights above 40 feet, but the emphasis at Kitestorm is on safety and education. An equipment swap has been added for the first time this year for participants who want to gear up without investing in brand-new equipment. Burlington kiting business Stormboarding, one of the oldest certified and insured snowkiting schools in the US, hosts Kitestorm, and details are posted online at . . . Big-air jumps and snowmobile racing will make a pit stop at Rockingham Park when the East Coast SnoX Racing Series revs it up at the former New Hampshire horse track Feb. 26-27. In addition to the action styled after Winter X Games competition, Rockingham will host vintage snow machine racing on a separate track, and a third course will feature young competitors just entering the sport. Tickets are $15 daily, kids 7 and under are free, and $10 weekend pit passes are available for fans who want to meet the racers and get a closer look at the snowmobiles. Details at

Burning desire Better plan ahead to be in shape (and hope for favorable Mt. Washington weather) for the five-leg April 16 Tuckerman Inferno Race, which consists of an 8.3-mile run, 6-mile downriver kayak paddle, 18-mile bicycle course, 3-mile hike, and a 1-mile ski slalom down New England’s most famous headwall. Individuals, duos, and five-person teams can enter. Detailed course descriptions, entry fees, and an entrants’ handbook is available at . . . Next week’s school vacation period means a “holiday pricing’’ uptick on lift tickets, but expect a rates thaw to accompany the spring skiing season that starts in March. A number of resorts are ready to roll out special daily deals for day-trippers, and incentive packages for long-term buyers willing to commit to 2011-12 season pass plans are also expected to be unveiled . . . Waterville Valley now offers a $69 combination bus ride and lift ticket deal, with departures from both Braintree and Boston . . . The first Tuesday in March is Town Meeting Day in Vermont, and elementary, middle, and high school students can celebrate the holiday March 1 with free skiing at Mad River Glen.