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By Alicia Nemiccolo MacLeay '97
Full-time college students on the professional freestyle skiing circuit are rare, but one of the best is dean's list biology major Bill McCloy '03. On weekends McCloy trades the lab for moguls courses, where he routinely places first in amateur events and is a top contender in professional contests.
McCloy was in eighth grade when his family moved from Vermont to Waterville Valley, N.H. An alpine racer at that point, he had three classmates who were on the freestyle team. "I figured joining it would be a good way to get to know them," he said.
Now he'll routinely place first in a field of 80 competitors in amateur moguls competitions, and he's training for a trip to nationals.
Each mogul run has two five-foot jumps. Judges score skiers on lines and turns, air and speed. "They like to see you be a little aggressive," said McCloy, who executes helicopters, 360s and triple maneuvers. "But you're limited by the fact that you still have to ski moguls when you land."
McCloy entered his first pro event in 2000--the Kellogg's Bumps and Jumps at Lake Placid--and finished fourth in singles. "I was really pleased," he said. And his friends back at Colby saw him on television. Although he signed up for more pro meets this year he has no aspirations to make a career of it. "One of the reasons I'm in school is that I don't want to be stuck doing pro events until I'm 30," he said.
Since the NCAA doesn't sanction freestyle skiing, McCloy skis for the Sunday River Ski Club. Last year he started coaching the Sunday River youth freestyle team. "It's good for my skiing," McCloy said. "I have to be conscious of what they're doing and translate that back to what I'm doing."
In February McCloy was ranked 24th in the country in single moguls and in the top 20 for duals, in which two racers compete head to head. He qualified in both for eastern championships and national qualifiers. Last year, in his third trip to the national qualifiers, a fall and resulting concussion ended his season. "Who knows what would have happened?" he said. This year nationals will be at Waterville Valley, an auspicious spot for McCloy.
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