It was a great first race for the Andover Varsity Nordic team, as Arielle Filiberti ’07 skied her way to a fifth place finish last Wednesday. Though some may say that Andover is too far south to compete with northern ski teams, Andover proved them wrong, as the team put on a great show at Vermont Academy. Both the boys and girls teams have made enormous improvement from last year, and this became apparent up in Vermont. Prior to the first race, the team was unsure about how they would finish and was looking forward to finding out how both the girls and boys teams stacked up against tough competition. Said Head Coach Keith Robinson prior to the race, “We’re going to see how the girls stack up with the league this year. With the third place finish at Interschols last year, we are looking to improve.” He continued, “The boys have a young team and we will see how they develop. We’re building towards the end of the season.” The classic-style race, originally scheduled at Cardigan, NH, was moved to Vermont Academy due to poor snow conditions. Andover, the most southern school competing, raced against schools farther north: Holderness, NMH, St. Paul’s School, Putney, Kimball Union Academy, Proctor Academy, and Vermont Academy.Even at Vermont Academy, the conditions were somewhat mediocre, as the skiers slipped on muddy parts where the snow had melted. The warm weather caused the snow to warm up and slow down less experienced skiers. The conditions varied, as the snow was still icy under the trees. The challenging course featured a large uphill portion amounting to about three-quarters of the 5km course. Due to the warm weather, skis were slow on the snow, and resulted in a lot of fishboning- a Nordic term for hiking on skis. The remaining quarter was a fast, long, swooping downhill to the finish- a very tough five kilometers, especially in the difficult conditions. The girl’s team had a fantastic race, though Andover’s number one racer, Filiberti was not feeling her best. Filiberti still came out with a strong fifth place finish, with an admirable time of 22:53. Said Filiberti of the race, “ It was good to see an improvement from last year, and I’m looking forward to doing better in the rest of the races this season when I’m feeling a little more up to it. It was great to see how our team has improved.” Following Filiberti in 11th place was Abby King ’07, with a time of 26:01, showing excellent form and much improvement from last season. Close behind King was Roxy Pierson ’07, who skied a great first race of the season with a time of 26:28. Absent from racing was Co-Captain Anna Ho ’06, who was unable to race due to an injured shoulder, but the team expects her to be back racing very soon. The boys’ race saw Andover in excellent position. Led by Co-Captain Jim Elder ’07, the young team raced only three skiers, but its few numbers executed exceptionally. Co-Captain Elder finished first for Andover with a fantastic time of 23:07. Following Co-Captain Elder was Kit Halvorsen ’08 at 23:46. Said Halvorsen of the first race, “We used this race to gauge the competition and to see who were going to be the major players this season. It seems like we’re going to be a very strong team, especially the girls’ side.” In his first race ever, newcomer Dave Holliday ’08 skied a great race at 26:30 for the 5km course.