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ISSUE 116 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/28/2003

High Hopes heading to Tahoe slopes

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, February 28, 2003

To say last weekend was a success for the men’s and women’s alpine ski teams would be an understatement. Both squads took home first place trophies at the regional tournament, positioning themselves strongly for the national meet set to take place at Lake Tahoe Tuesday through Friday.

In addition to the team victories, the Oles had a couple of outstanding individual finishes. The captains, Ben Belyea ’04 for the men’s team and Megan Harrod ‘05 for the women‘s squad took home first place finishes. Belyea was the fastest down the mountain to capture the slalom crown while Harrod registered the best time in the giant slalom.

Thanks to their hard work and brilliant performance at Regionals, both teams go into the national meet ranked second. With the high ranking comes lofty expectations.

“Each team member is capable of doing very well but must ski to his or her ability,“ said coach Paul Wojick. “I think that the majority of our team's members can finish in the top 20 at the championships and sincerely hope that they do so.”

If the Oles ski to their potental, they should be able to validate their number two ranking, and perhaps climb into the top spot. However, nothing is ever guaranteed, particularly in a sport as unpredictable and dangerous as alpine skiing. Wojick is quick to point out that there are a multitude of other factors that will influence the final outcome of the year ending meet.

“I think we will do very well at the championships if we remain focused and [do] not try to be too heroic. Ski racing is an extraordinarily unforgiving sport. A lot of things can and sometimes do go wrong. All we can do is attempt to minimize our mistakes and ski to [the best of] our abilities,” Wojick said.

Many view skiing as a sport where individuals compete for themselves and that team unity is not essential. In other words, the team is just the sum of its parts, whereas true teamwork oriented sports like basketball make it possible for an intangible factor, such as camaraderie, to elevate a team performance beyond what its raw abilities would allow.

Nothing could be further from the truth for the Oles. Both teams won titles despite having only one individual champion each, Belvea for the men and Harrod for the women, proving that success is a team affair.

Wojick summarized this philosophy by saying, “I hate to say that any one of our team's members can or should be singled out as we go to this penultimate event [nationals].

Wojick also gave the teams a lot of credit for building a great relationship. “I like the personality of these teams, particularly the chemistry between our men's and our women's teams,” he said. “These teams have been easy and fun to work with.”

Everything seems to be in place for the Oles to mount a championship run. They have the talent, the right philosophy, and a great sense of team chemistry. Wojick is pleased with the results up until this point, but is not completely satisfied yet. “I would say that we are right on my expectations thus far,” he said.

“The proof is in the pudding, however, and the pudding comes next week.

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