A lot of strong young talent joined Deerfield’s Alpine Ski Team this winter. Head Ski Coach William Chaffee has been coaching Alpine Ski at DA since 2013 and feels that this year’s team has “a bunch of outstanding skiers on both boys and girls teams.” Leading alongside Coach Chaffee are Math Teacher Mr. Marc Dancer and the team’s senior captains: Nicole Piispanen, Hunter Quigg, and Jean-Pierre Torras.
At the Class A Championships last season, the girls finished in fifth place, while the boys finished in first. The boys team hopes to repeat that first place victory, and the girls intend to score even higher. With their goals set high and a lot of old and new energy on the team, the only thing missing is snow.
El Nino this winter has made for fluctuating temperatures and uncharacteristic weather patterns. Fortunately, the team has managed to not be slowed down by the lack of snow. When asked about the challenges of not having enough snow, Piispanen remained optimistic and remarked that the team has “actually been coping with it pretty well” because they “only need one trail to be open, which is the race trail, and Berkshire East Mountain Resort always makes sure to keep its conditions pretty good.”
Located in the town of Charlemont, Berkshire East Mountain Resort, the team’s practice mountain, has one of the best snowmaking facilities in New England, allowing the ski team to train consistently. And even though Deerfield’s Alpine Ski Team has to share the slope, Piispanen said that the team “is used to splitting the trail with the other teams, so it hasn’t really been any more crowded this year than in the past.”
The skiers train from 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Coach Chaffee explained, “I meet the team there, so I’m able to set training courses prior to the team’s arrival, so our on-snow time is efficiently used.”
At Berkshire East Mountain Resort, the skiers start their practice with a slip run to navigate the course, locate the gates, and make sure the snow is smooth. For the remainder of practice, each member of the team does multiple runs down the slopes, receiving feedback from the coaches at the end of each run. The coaches’ assessments help to ensure that everyone is on target for meeting his or her goals by the end of the season.
Comprised of recreational and nationally ranked athletes, the team varies in depth. Regardless, “We have a really great time when we ski together and want to make the best of it,” said FJ Marsh ’19, who joined the team this winter.
It appears that the team is well on its way to meeting its goals this season. Coach Chaffee shared, “I’m most impressed with how all the athletes of both genders have come together as a team, supporting each other and helping each other have fun and get faster.”