Junior Brad Harden traveled to the Sunday River resort in Bethel, Maine after qualifying for the National Collegiate Athletic Association skiing championships. He is the first St. Michael’s male skier to qualify since Keith Farnand, who participated in 2000.
Racing with the best
Harden competed against the top 34 male skiers in the country. Harden placed 30th in the Men’s Giant Slalom and placed 19th in the Men’s Slalom.
Harden competed against top rated skiers from across the country.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Siorella)
“You’re excited to be there but you also know you’re up against the best guys and girls in the country so it’s pretty nerve-wracking when it comes down to it,” Harden said.
Qualifying for the NCAA’s was Harden’s goal at the beginning of the season, but he didn’t have high expectations going into it, he said.
Co-captain, senior Tyler Haynes, saw Harden’s accomplishment as prestigious, especially when competing against bigger division one schools, he said.
“It was his goal from the start of the season,” Haynes said. “On the first day of dry-land, we went through our goals and his was to make NCAA’s, and it was great knowing that he accomplished it.”
Harden’s head coach, Warren Palmer, was the lone person with him at the NCAA’s, and was not surprised of the outcome of his season.
“Brad’s results were outstanding,” Palmer wrote in an e-mail interview. “The field was a who’s who of international skiers with very strong credentials, so for Brad to finish 19 in Slalom was a very impressive result.”
No pain, no gain
Each summer, Harden spends about six weeks in New Zealand, Australia or Chile, skiing in preparation for the upcoming season, he said. Harden prepared for the championship with early morning trainings during the two-week gap between the end of the collegiate season and the start of the NCAA’s, he said.
Haynes attributes Harden’s success to his work ethic and dedication, he said.
“He’s always willing to put in the extra mile to make sure he’s ahead of the game,” Haynes said. “He’ll always be the first one out there in the morning to take runs or to help set up the courses. It shows in his skiing because he’s always the first one out, last one in the door, getting in as many runs as he can and utilizing all the training he can, just to better himself.”
Palmer also recognized the commitment that Harden has put into skiing, Palmer wrote.
“The summer before Brad’s sophomore year, he made a serious commitment to physically training,” Palmer wrote. “He lost 25 or 30 pounds and showed up in September stronger than ever before. This commitment to physical training and conditioning is truly what allowed Brad to move to the level he has achieved.”
For the team
Harden’s run in the NCAA’s was a team achievement rather than an individual accomplishment, because it brings recognition to the school and to the coaching staff, he said.
|Harden's strong work ethic made his goal a reality.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Siorella)
“There are a number of schools who don’t qualify any people and we’ve kind of been one of those teams in the past,” Harden said. “And now that we’re qualifying people, it shows that we’ve made a big jump, and we’ve really progressed.”
While Harden doesn’t know how seriously he will continue skiing after he graduates, he has set an even higher goal for next season, he said.
“I’d like to be All-American, and be in the top 10 in one of those events,” Harden said
Haynes thinks that Harden as well as St. Michael’s skiing will only continue to improve before next season.
“Hopefully SMC skiing will keep improving,” Haynes said. “And Brad is definitely a major factor in setting that standard.”