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UAA's Charley Field takes first NCAA win

Fellow college skier Kelly Steeves also heading into senior season

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Pemberton's Charley Field struck gold in Montana earlier this month.

Kicking off her senior season with the University of Alaska–Anchorage Seawolves, the 22-year-old scored a giant-slalom win on Jan. 6 by the skin of her teeth, eking out the victory over Westminster's Ann-Kathrin Breuning by 0.01 seconds and Montana State's Kari Hole by 0.02 seconds.

"It was crazy. I have done really well there in the past and pulled out some pretty runs in the last two years," she said. "I thought that I could go in again, ski really well like I knew I could.

"But I was definitely surprised. I didn't think I could pull off a win."

Sitting in third at the midpoint, Field was well aware she could tick off the item at the top of her college bucket list.

"I knew I was skiing fast," she said. "I knew that if I just did the same type of skiing I was doing before that I would be fine."

Field explained she used skills acquired as a speed racer to successfully tackle the technical course.

"I previously was a downhill skier and super-G skier primarily, so I used my downhill skills for the gliding section at the top. It was pretty flat, and then I rolled down into the finish," Field said, adding she got up on the edge of her skis to push in and create speed.

Seawolves head coach Sparky Anderson told the team website he wasn't surprised to see Field earn her first gold.

"Chuck has been knocking on this door for a long time," Anderson said. "It's so great to see her on top of the blocks today. Both of her parents were in the crowd and watched her knife her career best result today. It doesn't get any better than that. Charley is one of the hardest working kids I've ever been fortunate enough to work with and I could not be prouder."

Field followed up the win with an eighth-place showing in another giant slalom in Montana before taking 27th in the slalom. The scene then shifted to Utah's Snowbasin Resort where she was 20th in the giant slalom and 29th in the slalom.

"I'm really pushing in the gym this year," she said, adding an influx of younger skiers has helped reinvigorate the team. "Going into the beginning of the season, having such fast teammates is pushing me to want to ski fast. It's my senior year in college and I knew I had to step up to the plate, be a good captain and role model and a good skier to the best of my abilities."

Stepping into a role as a captain, Field hopes to provide mentorship that will help the younger athletes as they progress in their college careers, but added that she can build off some of the younger skiers, too.

Off the slopes, the health sciences major set herself up well academically by frontloading her 2017-18 courses, though she still pulled off a 4.0 GPA in first semester.

Field hopes to crack the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive year and earn all-American status.

"Hopefully it'll be a good end of the year and good end to ski racing," she said. "The plan is to just continue good skiing and a good attitude and hopefully it'll all line up properly."

Heating up at Harvard

On the other side of the continent, Whistler's Kelly Steeves is looking to find just the right temperature in her final year at Harvard University.

Speaking from Harvard's pre-season training camp at New Hampshire's Waterville Valley Resort, Steeves said she's feeling great heading into the 2017-18 campaign, where she'll look to build on a 2016-17 season after posting a pair of 28th-place finishes.

"I want to experience this season with no regrets and do everything that I can this last time around," she said. "I've been doing this for 10 years now and I haven't quite come to terms with the fact that this will be my last season but I'm really excited the team's in a really good place and it's a positive atmosphere right now."

Steeves noted the alpine team has reached its full capacity this year, with six men and six women suiting up. It's a younger squad, she noted, with four of the men only in their second year and four of the women in their rookie seasons while the other one is in her sophomore campaign. As the elder stateswoman on the team, Steeves is slipping into a captaincy role and trying to set the program up for several successful seasons to come.

"My role on the team has definitely shifted but I'm feeling good heading into this new season," she said. "It's a bit of a weird mentality knowing it will be my last season racing and I'll be focused on giving it all I've got. Having other girls on the team is great because it adds to the level of competition within our training that I haven't really had for the last few years."

Being her last year in class as well, Steeves' academic life has been consumed with her thesis as part of her engineering sciences program.

"When you pour in hot coffee, it comes in way too hot and you're not able to drink it for awhile so you have to let it cool down. My mug will take that hot coffee, cool it down to that ideal drinkable temperature relatively quickly — in less than three minutes — and then it will hold it at that temperature for multiple hours," said Steeves, who has secured a job with Shell. "I'm doing it without using any electronics or heaters so it's all based off of material properties of the materials I'm working with."

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