MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2013 |
EDITOR C.J. PENTLAND
Thunderbirds shred the slopes
Women finish fourth, men finish eighth at alpine skiing nationals in Idaho Colin Chia Staff Writer
Competing in a costly sport with limited resources, the UBC Thunderbirds alpine ski team is making the most of what they have and carving up challengers from across North America. At the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) national championships in Sun Valley, Idaho from March 8-10, the team clinched fourth place in the overall women’s team standings and 8th on the men’s side. In the process of qualifying for nationals, T-Bird Mike Bisnaire also won the Northwest Conference men’s overall individual title. In addition to ski racing’s usual individual element, the USCSA runs a team-based format for giant slalom and slalom events. Out of up to five competitors per team in each event, the three best times are combined to give a “team time,” which is used to determine rankings. The level of competition is high, according to Ben Middleton, who both competes and is the team’s head coach. Many top USCSA racers boast national team experience or are on the cusp of Olympic and FIS-level competition. To help make up for that, the T-Birds recruited Canadian junior national team member Kelbey Halbert this season.
PHOTO courtesy J.P. Bisniare
The UBC alpine skiing team at the USCSA national championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Given UBC’s limited resources, the T-Birds always aim to finish third at nationals, said Middleton. Unlike the T-Birds, the USCSA’s two powerhouses, Sierra Nevada College and Rocky Mountain College, are able to offer full scholarships and cover more team expenses. “We have a really strong team.
We’re just not quite there with Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada.... If all of our skiers skied as best we could, and all their skiers skied as best they could, I didn’t see us beating them.” By that standard, Middleton said the outcome at nationals was disappointing. “As far as men’s and women’s teams go, we could have
easily gotten third in every event. “Ski racing always comes down to one race. We had tough luck in nationals this year, but regionals went well. Nationals could have gone really well, but they ended up not going our way this year. “We had one day of very, very tough conditions for the men’s giant slalom; Austin Taylor could
barely see anything and really had to take it easy going down.” The T-Birds face the additional challenge of funding their own team. While UBC Athletics funds a substantial part of the team’s $30,000 annual budget, the athletes fundraise and pay out of pocket for the majority of their expenses, relying greatly on alumni support. They only compete at three of the four conference-level meets due to budget constraints. “We need to fundraise about double what they give us,” said Middleton. Adding to the team’s difficulties is the fact that Middleton must juggle coaching and competing. “When we’re at nationals, you really notice how many other teams have full coaches and what it’s like to have that kind of help for your team,” he said. “We’re missing that right now.... It puts a lot more stress on the sport than it should for me.” Middleton’s varsity career is now over due to his eligibility ending at the end of the season. He will be handing the reins over to Austin Taylor next year. “I hope the team keeps going where it’s going right now,” said Middleton. “I think if we had more success at nationals we’d get more recognition from the school.” U
Whitecaps no match for Thunderbirds
UBC men’s soccer dominates Whitecaps reserves, wins exhibition game 3-0 Andrew Bates Managing Editor, Web
kai jacobson PHOTO/THE UBYSSEY
UBC controlled the play for the majority of the game, beating the Whitecaps 3-0.
Between the fact that the Vancouver Whitecaps are an MLS team in the middle of the season and the UBC men’s soccer team is made up of returning CIS national champions, one could have expected a friendly meeting between the two, with a pre-game celebration, lots of easy passes and a light-hearted atmosphere. However, it was anything but that. At 12:30 on a rainy Thursday afternoon, the Thunderbirds ran down the Whitecaps Reserves 3-0. The match was tense, with the ’Caps trapped in the same smothering possession game UBC brought to Laval for nationals. UBC buried late and the Whitecaps had a man sent off for roughness behind the play. It was business as usual for the T-Birds. “That was point number one in the team talk, was [to] come and compete. You’ve gotta come and compete against these guys,” said UBC head coach Mike Mosher. “I’m sure that the [Whitecaps] are disappointed in, sort of, the compete level that their boys brought. I thought we’d see them really getting after it a little bit more, because they’re competing for spots.” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie picked a second-string team that included last year’s starters Brad Knighton and Camilo Sanvezzo alongside Canadian national team player Russell Teibert and recent draft picks Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado. The team also featured an all-new centre back pairing, with Honduras national team
defender Johnny Leveron making his first appearance in a Whitecaps shirt alongside Adam Clement, who signed a deal with the club earlier in the day after a preseason stint. UBC’s squad featured all but three of the 13 players that played in the Thunderbirds’ 1-0 win over Cape Breton University in November to win the CIS national championship. Fifth-year co-captain Marco Visintin returned to play his last game. The T-Birds’ play in the tournament was characterized by an aggressive possession game that deprived the opponent of the ball and punished them on the counterattack, and they were able to use a version of that offence against the professionals. Gagandeep Dosanjh was a key figure in UBC’s triumph. Dosanjh, who captained the Whitecaps’ under-23 PDL side last summer, helped orchestrate the first goal in the 16th minute. Dosanjh took a pass from William Hyde and ran down the left side with it, finding Navid Mashinchi, who buried past the keeper Knighton. UBC would score again 10 minutes later on a sensational individual effort from Sean Haley. Haley evaded a number of defenders before slotting it past Knighton. “His feet are unbelievable; some of the stuff he does on practice, sometimes in games, you just shake your head. The guys are like, ‘How did he do it?’” said Mosher. “And he showed that on the second goal. It was absolutely terrific.” The rain was falling hard as the second half kicked off, but the
Thunderbirds continued to move the ball aggressively. “Our front four, plus our two holding midfielders, are all very good on the ball, and they can keep it,” said Mosher. “But it’s a different animal when you play against players at that next level. You’re going to be under more pressure.” The Whitecaps showed their skill, giving the UBC defence a test unlike any that it saw in Laval. But Vancouver’s professional speedsters couldn’t really get moving. UBC’s defence kept a solid perimeter in the box, and Leveron and Clement were a step behind in finding options from the backfield. The Whitecaps worked in earnest to try and get a goal back, and Matt Watson almost made it 2-1 when his shot banged off the post. The game proceeded to turn for the worse when substitute Tommy Heinemann was sent off after a clash with William Hyde behind the play. Now a man up, UBC sealed the deal with a Greg Smith goal just before the final whistle. “It was an intense game; I never like to be on the losing side, but … I think today’ll be a good day for us,” said Rennie. “I think we’ve won a lot of games over the last few months, and sometimes I think when you win a lot of games you stop doing the things you need to do to be successful. “I was really impressed with how they played,” Rennie continued. “There’s a lot of respect from us towards their team and that respect goes even more when you play in a game like that.” U
Published on Mar 18, 2013