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Big Green’s Slalom Teams Bounce Back

Hancock, Vt. — Dartmouth’s alpine team had something to prove yesterday in the men and women’s slalom at the 60th NCAA ski championships. And while the Big Green’s best effort was freshman Lizzie Kistler’s fourth-place finish in the women’s race, the squad advanced from a disheartening showing Wednesday in the giant slalom.

Fellow freshman Sara Kikut was seventh and Abby Fucigna 26th for the Dartmouth women. Hunter Black was 12th for the men, while Ben Morse ended 16th after both made big moves in their second runs at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.

“We weren’t where we expected to be Wednesday,” said Black of a Dartmouth giant slalom showing that left the team in 10th place. “We all felt we could have done more than we showed in the GS. We wanted to be more aggressive today and I think we all took it forward.”

The Big Green moved to seventh after a solid showing in the Nordic classical races Thursday and improved to sixth after the slalom events with 405 points. Defending champion Vermont has led wire-to-wire and has 564 points heading into today’s final event, the freestyle races at Rikert Nordic Center.

Colorado (510) is second and Denver third (484). New Hampshire used a strong showing in men’s slalom to sit right behind Dartmouth with 390.5 points.

Kistler, who finished second in slalom at the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association championships, was 28th in the giant slalom but had the third fastest opening run in yesterday’s slalom. She wobbled a bit at the start of her second run, which made catching Denver’s Kristine Haugen impossible.

Kistler’s combined time of one minute, 38.25 seconds, trailed Haugen (who became only the fifth woman to win both alpine titles in the same championship) by 0.37 seconds. Dartmouth had the second best women’s team score behind Denver.

“I made a few mistakes, but I feel good about my race,” Kistler said. “It was a mix of attack and go and trying to make speed in the right places.

“I knew our team could do it. It was a good way to come back after the giant slalom.”

The Big Green qualified only two men for the alpine events and Black was 27th and Morse 30th in the GS. In the slalom, Morse jumped 11 spots from 27th after the opening run, while Black advanced from 19th to 12th.

“It was a pretty technical course with some pretty big turns,” Morse said. “I just tried to embrace the ruts, make some speed and leapfrog some people.”

Black was within reach of a top-10 finish before a late mistake cost him time.

“I had a great run going and then I lost it at the bottom a little bit,” he said. “But I’m pretty happy — I kept things moving.”

Dartmouth will look to its powerful Nordic squad to continue its comeback today in the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle and men’s 20-kilometer freestyle races. Silas Talbot was fifth in the classical event and the Big Green expects a stronger showing from Sam Tarling. He was 12th in the classical race, the first time in two years he finished out of the top 10. But he won the NCAA freestyle title in 2010.

Freshman Mary O’Connell hopes to build on her second-place showing in classical and is backed by Annie Hart and Corey Stock.