WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams College senior Alpine skier Marc Talbott (Menlo Park, CA) and junior Nordic skier Braden Becker (Yarmouth, ME) will represent the Ephs at the 2018 NCAA Skiing Championships in Steamboat Springs, CO March 7-10. All NCA A Divisions, I, II and III compete in the same championship.
Eph Alpine head coach Kelsey Levine noted, "Marc came into college recovering from a serious injury. He jumped confidently into racing but he didn't have an easy task ahead of him. He skied deliberately for four years and his patience was tested. He always had the speed. But it took a little time to learn about the hills we race on and to really regain his freedom of movement after his injury.
"Marc finally made his breakthrough last year at Dartmouth when he got 12th from a start position of 52," stated Levine. "From there, he was able to get better start positions so he could put his fast skiing into the races on the hills he had studied so carefully."
Coach Levine also pointed out, "While athletes are at the start, getting ready for their run, they radio down to the coaches to hear about how the course is running and whether or not they should stick to their original tactical plan or whether they need to make any adjustments. Making adjustments based on this report is a very difficult thing. It takes imagination to be able to envision the run and it takes a lot of trust from the athlete in both the report and their own ability to navigate such specific details at high speeds. Marc is one of the few athletes who can really adjust with a report. He is very clear with his plan and he skis where he intends to."
"It is fun to work with an athlete like Marc because it is much more about tactical decisions and leaves much less to chance," added Levine. "Marc made an impact on the carnival circuit this season, with a personal best of 7th in the Williams Giant Slalom. He also had many top 12 races in both Slalom and Giant Slalom."
Levine concluded by stating, "Marc has been on the cusp of this level for a long time, which makes his patience very impressive. His attention to detail in his off-snow training and trust in himself has landed him at the NCAAs."
"We are excited to be returning to Steamboat Springs, CO for this year's NCAA Skiing Championships.," said Eph Nordic coach Jason Lemieux. "The courses in Steamboat are quite challenging and are at about 7,000 feet elevation. The altitude will be a major factor for skiers from the east and we're tailoring our training as much as possible to give Braden the best shot possible for a top result at NCAAs."
"We'll be training on the race loop and testing waxes extensively next week leading up to the first race on March 8th," stated Lemieux. "Braden had an incredibly strong season last year as a sophomore, earning him First Team All-East honors and a top 15 performance at the NCAA Championships in Jackson, N.H."
"This year has been quite a bit different for Braden," Lemieux continued. "He was mostly unable to train between August and the start of the winter season due to a health issue. He's been working hard to get back on his feet and all season he's been showing signs of improvement, but he has struggled to get back to the form he was in last season."
"At many points during the season Braden was close to making the decision to take the entire season off and to start focusing completely on next season, but over the past month he decided to keep racing for the team and to just see what would happen," added Lemieux. "He got sick just before the Williams Carnival, but came back strong for the NCAA Regional Championships at Middlebury and was able to notch his best ever freestyle result when he finished second in the 20K freestyle event and was named the EISA Nordic Skier of the Week. With that result Braden showed that he is coming back to his previous form and I think he has a great shot to do very well at NCAAs."
"It's been a tough year, but Braden never gave up and continued to be a student of the sport during the months where he couldn't train at a full load. He studied and worked tirelessly on his technique and is now a much more technically proficient skier in both freestyle and classic skiing," stated Lemieux.
"Braden is strong mentally and always gives 100% on the race course, but has been running on less than a full tank this year," Lemieux shared. "On Saturday at Middlebury watching him race with energy was like watching a completely different skier than last season as his technique has improved so much. If he has good energy during the races at NCAAs it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him fighting for a top 15 or even top 10 finish. It all depends on how his body responds once the races start."
"There's no expectations given the year Braden has had, but he is incredibly talented and I have confidence in his abilities to ski with the best in the country out in Steamboat," Lemieux concluded.