Infusion of Youth Will Help Make Skiers Competitive
The Berkshire Ski League will swing into action January 9 with teams convening at Butternut Resort in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, for the season’s first race. Longtime varsity coach Jonathan Gottsegen will count on the experience and leadership of four-year veterans Jack Doyle ’19 and Duncan McKee ’19 to help a large contingent of young skiers adjust to new surroundings and rebuild after a strong 4th-place finish in last year’s NEPSAC Championships.
In addition to Doyle and McKee, Gottsegen returns a passel of other varsity skiers in Luis Ballester ’19, Caleb Gilbert ’20, NEPSAC veteran – and coach’s son – Peter Gottsegen ’21, and Diego Narvaez ’20. “Replacing three of our top skiers will be a challenge,” acknowledges Gottsegen, “but our returners should provide a solid foundation for the squad. Youth and previous ski racing experience, though,” adds Gottsegen, “will also be important.”
Indeed, three of the team’s newcomers are third formers with racing experience under their belts: Jack Meagher, Otto Steinmetz, and Paul Ferragu. “They will be counted upon for solid finishes this year,” Gottsegen pronounces of his kiddie-corps. “In addition, Hudson Gray ’22, Maximilian Lampe ’22, Jorge Herranz-Ramos ’21 and Brian Ting ’21 should provide valuable depth while they learn techniques and become more accustomed to ski racing.”
The ski team takes to the slopes every Wednesday throughout January and February. How fast the influx of new third and fourth formers acclimate will determine how far this team might go – and should set the stage for the foreseeable future.
Salisbury boys started skiing on the hill in front of the Main Building in the early days of the School, and by 1917 had erected what would later be called the “Front Hill Jump.” Though intramural skiing occurred with some regularity, interscholastic matches did not begin until 1936 when Salisbury competed against Berkshire and Hotchkiss in the School’s first-ever invitational meet.
Interest in the sport increased rapidly after the war and Salisbury skiing enjoyed a renaissance under long-time coach Carl Williams, who began his 45-year tenure in 1965. Under his leadership, the Knights took the Berkshire Ski League Championship three times in 1971-1973 and again in 1990-1991, winning the Blair Academy Invitational Ski Meet in 1979 and 1981, along with the New England Alpine Championship in 1989. In 2013, the team saw great success, winning the New England Class "C" Championships. Most recently, the team has been on the Class B podium several times.
Today, skiers follow Coach Williams' sage advice, "ski fast, have fun, don't fall down."