Ski tales: Daino making his mark as collegiate competitor

Former Galway High School skiing star Corbin Daino is having a successful season at Castleton State.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Corbin Daino, a former Galway High School ski racer, is having a successful season of competition at Castleton State College in Vermont.

Coached by Chris Eder, Castleton competes in the Thompson

Division of the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference. Eder has about 20 boys on the squad, and with six races in the books Daino, a freshman, has already made his presence felt, despite some frozen toes.

“In two slaloms we had at Killington [Jan. 12-13], he really bailed us out,” Eder said.

Those were the first two races in which Castleton was competing in the Thompson Division. The Spartans moved up a notch in the conference this season, after winning the lower McBrine Division championship in 2006 and 2007. Other schools at the higher level are Tufts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Boston University, Green Mountain, Northeastern, Connecticut College, Holy Cross, Massachusetts-Lowell, Amherst and Trinity.

A week before the Killington

slaloms, Daino froze his toes in non-division competition in Maine. He missed practice all week, and wasn’t scheduled to compete at Killington.

“At 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, I got a call from one of our other guys who was sick, and didn’t think he could race,” Eder said. “Corbin came walking by because he was just going to go to the race and watch. A light bulb went off in my head and I said, ‘Hey, are your skis ready?’ ”

In the Thompson Division, 10 men per team can race, with the top three scoring.

“We had a lot of guys falling both days, and he was one of our top three finishers each day,” Eder said. “The first day, he was our number three skier. He came in eighth overall out of 106 racers ,starting with bib number 90. The guys who ski from that far back

really don’t stand much of a chance, and he came through.”

Castleton finished second to Tufts in the race, with WPI third.

The following day, Daino had another good race, finishing seventh overall and third for his team. Castleton was second again, with Boston University the winner and Worcester third.

On Jan. 19, Castleton won its first Thompson Division race, a giant slalom at Killington. Daino was again third for the Spartans, finishing fifth overall. Castleton won another giant slalom the following day, putting seven skiers in the top 10. Daino was eighth overall, the fifth finisher for the team.

Castleton won two slaloms at Bromley last weekend, but this time, Daino failed to score.

Eder is expecting strong performances from the freshman during the remainder of the season.

“He’s definitely somebody we can count on,” Eder said. “He skis smart, too. A lot of people just go all out in these races, and they can blow out of the course any second. But he knows it’s a team thing, so he skis smart and he finishes, but he finishes with a good result. He’s definitely a team player.”

Daino was not a team player in high school.

Not that he didn’t want to be. He just didn’t have a team.

For two seasons, Daino competed in Section II high school races as the only member of the Galway ski team, with his father acting as his coach.

As a senior, he was top-three in five invitational races, and he placed second in both slalom and giant

slalom at the 2007 Section II Alpine Championships. At the New York State High School Alpine Champ­ionships, he place fourth in slalom to lead all Section II skiers.

Daino said he is enjoying his collegiate skiing.

“It’s nice because it’s not just an individual sport,” he said. “You’re part of a team. It’s also nice because I get to ski at areas I’ve never been to before.”

Two other Castleton freshman are former Section II racers — Kaileen Balzano of Johnstown and Brian Harvey of Lake George. Balzano has had five top-20 finishes, including an 11th and a 15th at Bromley last weekend. Harvey has had three top-15 placings, including a sixth and a seventh at Bromley.

Daino is ranked eighth among men in the division, with Harvey in a tie for 11th.

The teams will compete in two giant slaloms at the Dartmouth Skiway this weekend. The divisional finals are Feb. 9-10 at Killington, with the regional championships at Waterville Valley, N.H., Feb. 23-24. The nationals are set for March 3-9 at Sunday River, Maine.

CRASHES GALORE

Watching people do somersaults on skis, snowboards and snowmobiles doesn’t interest me, so I usually don’t watch much of the Winter X Games.

Last Sunday, though, I watched the Winter X skicross competition at Aspen, Colo., for two reasons. One, the event will debut in the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Two, former U.S. ski team downhiller Daron Rahlves was the headline Aspen competitor.

In skicross, six skiers start side-by-side and race down a twisting, bumpy course about as wide as an average driveway.

The course has to be challenging, but the second-to-last bump on the Aspen course must have been built by a Norwegian ski jumper.

Men in the second semifinal heat looked like they were shot out of a cannon when they went off in a tight pack. There were near-misses in the air, and skiers went down all over the place when they landed.

The producers switched to snowmobiling to kill time while the ski patrol carted Frenchman Enak

Gavaggio and Swede Lars Lewen off on sleds to awaiting amb­ulances.

Second heat: Same thing.

Cameras switched to snowmobiling while Juha Haakkala of Finland was loaded into a sled.

The announcers began using the word “carnage” like it was a good thing. One did say maybe they should warn the racers at the top that there was a problem on the jump. Duh.

Now, it was the women’s turn.

First heat: Same thing.

Austrian Karin Huttary, Frenchwoman Merryl Boulangeat and Slovenian Sasa Faric all crashed. Cameras switched to snowmobiling while the ski patrol bundled up Huttary for her ride to the hosp­ital.

They finally got the finals off without mishap, thanks to some hasty speedchecks at the jump. Rahlves, who was ahead of the pack in the first crash, skied off with the men’s gold medal, with France’s Ophelie David winning for the women.

I still haven’t made up my mind if skicross in the Olympics is a good thing or not, but I do know how they can draw a big crowd.

Let the guy from Aspen build the course.

PATROL CALL

Interested in becoming a member of the National Ski Patrol?

If so, mark the dates of Saturday, Feb. 16, or Sunday, March 2, on your calendar.

On those two days, the West Mountain Ski Patrol at Glens Falls is inviting skiers and snowboarders to an open house to learn about becoming a patroller.

Those with an interest in learning first aid and ski/toboggan skills needed to serve the skiing public are invited to ski with members of the West Mountain patrol from

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on either date.

Medical care providers are welcome, but first aid experience is not necessary, as all training is provided. Strong, intermediate skiing/boarding skills and a desire to learn outdoor emergency care skills in the offseason are required. Those interested should contact patrol director Steve Miller at [email protected] or stop by the West Mountain ski patrol office.

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