Paul Stone begins his second winter at the helm of the University of Maine-Presque Isle men's and women's nordic ski team in 2011-2012. While the team's first event is still almost a month away, the Craftsbury (VT) Eastern Cup on December 15th and 16th, optimism is already high for Coach Stone.
"With more experience on both the men's and women's teams, we should be consistently competitive with more teams on the circuit this winter. The improved depth on both teams means we should see better team finishes throughout the winter."
Stone's desire to raise the bar for his team this season comes in part from a solid core of returning student-athletes.
On the men's side, Joey Bard (So./Woodland, ME) struggled with his health during his rookie campaign. Thus far this fall, Bard appears to have put injury issues behind him and has been fit and focused heading into the winter.
Justin Fereshetian (Jr./Turner, ME) stayed active this fall running anchoring coach Chris Smith's cross country team. Fereshetian recently finished 33rd overall at the USCAA National Cross Country Championships run in Lake Placid, NY. Fereshetian's commitment to off-season training has Stone excited about his prospects this season.
"Justin had a good summer of training and has been a stalwart of a good fall training group."
On the women's side, Kati Christoffel (Jr./Clifton Park, NY) was forced to deal with bad luck with turned ankles late in the summer appears to finally have put those issues in the past as she led the way for the women at the recent North Haven Roller-ski race held earlier this fall.
LeAnn Abbott (Jr./Sumner, ME) came to UMPI last season without a great deal of competitive skiing experience. Her athleticism allowed her to make strides during last season. With a full off-season of training specifically for skiing now under her belt, those improvements should continue.
Newcomers to the men's team includes a pair for freshmen from the Berkshires. Andrew Nesbitt (Fr./Williamstown, MA) comes to UMPI having qualified for the Junior Olympics last year and was able to spend two weeks skiing at the SnowFarm in New Zealand this past summer.
The other part of the Berkshire equation is Dan Dermody (Fr./Cheshire, MA). Dermody arrives at UMPI with the reputation as one of the top high school skiers in Massachusetts. Coach Stone likes Dermody's chances of making an early impact.
"Dan can work his way up the ranks in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Carnivals this winter. he should see improvement in his ski results this winter as his technique improves."
For the women, Chelsea Beauchemin (Fr./Adams, MA) is a transfer from MCLA and top ten high school skier in Massachusetts. After playing only soccer at MCLA, Beauchemin is looking forward to racing again this winter.
Molly Lindsey (Fr./Winthrop, ME) has skiing in her blood. Lindsey was a founding member of the ski team at her high school. Stone believes that passion will positively impact the women's team.
"Molly is making great strides in strength and technique and should help ensure that the women's team makes a big step forward in the coming years."
Pre-season is a time for goal-setting and Coach Stone believes it is realistic to see his athletes finishing consistently in the top 40's all winter with even some 30's sprinkled in.
"We'd like to see the men finish 8th or better as a team at the Eastern Championships and the women finish in the top 10."