Northampton’s Charlie Denhart, Amherst’s Margaret O’Connell lead local finishers at PVIAC Alpine Ski Championships

Last modified: Sunday, February 14, 2016

Charlemont — Mohawk Trail’s Dan Burke completed both of his runs in cutoff jean shorts and a white tank top.

Team tables were filled with grills, chips and candy.

A group of male skiers took a victory lap in their skivvies and sprayed each other with snow while stopping at the bottom of the hill.

The PVIAC Individual Alpine Ski Championships at times resembled a beach party more than a win-at-all costs title race Tuesday at Berkshire East.

Some teams looked at it more as a celebration and a chance to relax and blow off steam since their state qualifications had been decided in the regular season.

“We’re not going for blood today. It’s a little more relaxed setting,” Frontier coach Brian Delaney said. “It’s a great grand finale, too, to the season we just had.”

Frontier received its regular season South Division championship trophy at the conclusion of the day’s events, and Corriann Delaney and Allison Zera tied for the regular season individual division title.

Delaney and Zera battled each other all season for it and ended up even.

“I feel like we’re more supportive,” Zera said.

“But when I’m in the start, I feel that competitiveness,” Delaney said.

Delaney edged Zera on Tuesday in the combined, finishing sixth at 1 minute, 2.26 seconds. Zera was seventh at 1:02.53.

Zera raced the faster slalom in 37.21 seconds, while Delaney was quicker down the giant slalom in 24.57.

Both have qualified for a trip to the state championships on Feb. 23 at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton.

Amherst Regional’s Margaret O’Connell topped them both in Tuesday’s combined time, taking fifth in 1:01.15.

The Hurricanes sophomore finished fourth in the slalom at 35.84 and seventh in the giant slalom in 25.31 despite taking a more relaxed approach to her runs.

“I’m just happy that I finished, just wanted to have a clean run,” she said. “This was a really fun day with all the food. There was no pressure so I feel like I had nothing to lose.”

O’Connell wasn’t pleased with her results at the start of the season, but rounded into form as it progressed.

She finished fifth overall in the South individual standings and will be headed back to states.

“This season was difficult. I was really frustrated because I didn’t get to go on skis that much, so I didn’t start really seeing results that I wanted until now because I had a really slow season,” O’Connell said. “I took a lot of tree runs, tree runs help a lot. It’s one thing being on courses, but if you don’t have the skills before it won’t work.”

Northampton coach Trixie Wessel wanted a more balanced approach from her team than casual.

“I, personally, took it more seriously because I saw it as a championship event. That being said, it had a really fun atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone put down a really solid run. They’re all really consistent skiers.”

Senior Charlie Denhart has consistently topped slalom races all year and finished lower in the giant slaloms.

He followed suit at the individual championships, taking third in the combined time at 54.46 after finishing seventh in the giant slalom (23.33) and tied for second in the slalom (31.13).

“I was a little slow on the giant slalom. I’ve always struggled with the high school giant slalom finding speed in the flats,” Denhart said. “My slalom run, I was happy. I made a few small mistakes, but I’m still happy.”

Denhart was awarded the individual North Division title after never finishing outside the top 10 during the season and topping the North in all three slalom races.

“In high school I’m a lot more partial to slalom,” said Denhart, who also competes as an independent in the Mount Institute Ski League and is a member of the Berkshire East club team. “It’s a little longer in time and a little more challenging than giant slalom, which I like.”

He relaxed when he wasn’t racing, taking in the scene.

It was all business as soon as Denhart hit the starting gate, though.

“I was definitely out here to have a fun time. When it comes to the race, I try to switch gears and go into skier’s mode while I’m on the course,” he said. “Still enjoying myself but in a different sense. The whole day is fun. It’s a fun day.”

Now he’ll turn his attention to Wachusett and the state meet.

Denhart finished 38th last season in the slalom and 30th in the giant slalom.

Figuring out a way to pick up speed in the flats will be critical to moving up the leaderboard.

“I’ve always struggled at Wachusett. It’s a different sort of mountain, it’s got a lot of flat on it,” Denhart said. “One of the challenges I’ve had is figuring out how to ski the flat successfully.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at

PVIAC Alpine Ski Championships

Tuesday at Berkshire East, Charlemont

Local finishers in Top 25


Name, school Giant Slalom Slalom Combined

3. Charlie Denhart, Northampton 23.33 (7) 31.13 (2) 54.39

11. Jack Denhart, Northampton 23.63 (13) 34.7 (12) 58.33

24. Nicholas Herman, Gateway 25.89 (36) 38.57 (23) 1:04.28

25. Lucas Chaplian-Koski, Amherst 25.45 (29) 38.92 (25) 1:04.37


Name, school Slalom Giant Slalom Combined

5. Margaret O’Connell, Amherst 35.84 (4) 25.31 (7) 1:01.15

6. Corriann Delaney, Frontier 37.72 (8) 24.57 (5) 1:02.29

7. Allison Zera, Frontier 37.28 (7) 25.25 (6) 1:02.53

11. Jessica Garriepy, Gateway 39.68 (12) 25.49 (8) 1:05.17

12. Georgie Von Furth, Northampton 40.71 (13) 26.28 (14) 1:06.99

13. Alina Smiarowski, Frontier 39.52 (11) 27.82 (33) 1:07.34

19. Julia Snodgrass, Northampton 44.23 (20) 26.46 (16) 1:10.69

23. Amelia Bacon, Northampton 45.88 (24) 27.35 (24) 1:13.23

24. Shannon Burke, Gateway 45.84 (23) 27.62 (28) 1:13.46


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy