(This story was first published in the April 4, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
Corey Ransom Photo – Andrew McNealus, of Woodstock, is seen here at a Middlebury College meet. McNealus won first place in the Eastern Cup series.
By David Miles
With a win in the final race of the season Woodstock’s Andrew McNealus claimed first place in the Eastern Cup series for the recently completed 2012-2013 season. But that win was only one of six races in which McNealus emerged victorious during an impressive campaign.
McNealus, a senior at Middlebury College, was “dominant this season,” according to his coach Stever Bartlett. He opened the season with a win at Sunday River in Maine — by over two seconds — and closed it with a three-race win streak including the final giant slalom race at Stowe.
McNealus trailed after the first run, but surpassed a Dartmouth skier to claim his sixth win — and eighth podium finish — of the season.
In addition to the Eastern Cup victories, the former Green Mountain Valley School racer won a couple of open races too, including one sponsored by Proctor Academy at the Blackmoor Ski Area. He finished sixth in the Fisk Trophy Race here at Suicide Six, a year after he won it all here.
Middlebury College hosted the NCAA Skiing Championships this year and McNealus helped his school finish in 11th place overall. Although the team’s final placing was just outside the top ten, Middlebury’s alpine men actually were fourth among the men’s alpine teams. McNealus’ first slalom run placed him in second place, but he slipped back in the standings to 21st, still earning his team 19 points, with a slower second run.
McNealus is now wrapping up his season in Canada, but “he has some decisions to make for next year,” according to his coach. Bartlett says, “Andrew could choose to continue to compete and try and make the U.S. ski team — he has a chance to make it — or whether to enter the real world.” One possible avenue for McNealus would be to compete on the Nor-Am circuit. A top two finish in the standings would automatically guarantee him a start in every giant slalom event on the World Cup circuit the following season. That is the route that David Donaldson, a former teammate of his at Middlebury, successfully took. “Andrew has been slowly building to this every season,” Bartlett said. “But this year that steady progress just yielded exceptional results. His size and his strength really grew as a result of his hard work last summer. And his dry land training effort during the fall allowed him to make that breakthrough. It was enough to make him just a little bit faster and in this sport a little bit counts for a lot.
“He is a powerful, aggressive skier,” his coach said. “He takes big risks sometimes, but he often succeeds because of those risks.”
McNealus began his skiing career as a toddler here at Suicide Six. He continued to ski in the junior ranks locally until he left for Green Mountain Valley School as a high school freshman.
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