Saint Michael's graduate Gus MacLeod '02 returns for his 10th season as head coach of the Purple Knight men's and women's Alpine skiing programs in 2019-20.
MacLeod, whose skiers have claimed 19 of the 27 NCAA Championship qualifications in program history over just the last eight years alone, was promoted to head coach following one year as technical coach in 2009-10. He is responsible for all coaching duties associated with the NCAA Division II program, which competes in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) against all of the top squads in the East, including the University of Vermont, Dartmouth College and Middlebury College.
While extending its program record to eight consecutive seasons with at least one NCAA Championship qualifier, Saint Michael's Alpine skiing sent a record five competitors to the national meet in 2018-19, matching crosstown national heavyweight University of Vermont: Guillaume Grand '19, Colby Jordan '20, Emilia Laffin '20, Anna Willassen '20 and Ben Throm '22. Grand finished out his career with his third All-America finish, recording his 44th and final top-10 placement in 56 starts. His fourth-place showing was the best ever by a Purple Knight at NCAAs, and landed him on the All-America first team. As a team, the Purple Knights were 13th out of 24 schools with 72 points, just shy of school records set the previous year. Members of the program cracked the top 20 on 43 occasions during the season, with Grand, Jordan and Throm all finishing among the top eight in the men's giant slalom victory at the season-opening Saint Lawrence University Carnival. Grand podiumed five times and Throm once, as MacLeod's teams scored enough points to place among the top five in 12 events. The men were also third out of 14 schools during the slalom at the NCAA Championship. Five Purple Knights later competed in the prestigious U.S. Alpine Tech Championship.
Alpine skiing sent four competitors to the NCAA Championship in 2017-18: Grand, Willassen, Danny Duffy '18 and Meggane Grand '18. Thanks single-handedly to the Alpine squad, Purple Knight skiing finished a program-best 12th at NCAAs, besting the 1988 team's mark by one spot, while scoring a record 73 points. Between Alpine and Nordic, Saint Michael's took seventh at the EISA Championship, its best since the league's modern era began in 1993-94. Four more skiers - three men and one woman - narrowly missed the cut for NCAAs, as Purple Knights scored NCAA points 73 times and cracked the top 20 on 48 occasions during the season. Guillaume Grand and Willassen podiumed once apiece, as MacLeod's teams scored enough points to place among the top five in 18 events. MacLeod was named Purple Knight Coach of the Year by his Athletic Department peers at year's end for the third time in six years.
Saint Michael's sent three Alpine skiers to the NCAA Championship in 2016-17: Guillaume Grand, Willassen and Mathias Grimsrud '18. Grand was among the top 16 in both events, and he repeated as an All-America finisher by taking 10th place in the slalom. Grimsrud was 15th in the same event, finishing 0.79 seconds short of Grand. The Purple Knight trio single-handedly pushed Saint Michael's to a 15th-place showing, matching the previous year's team for the Purple and Gold's top performance at NCAAs since 1988. Three others - one man and two women - narrowly missed the cut for NCAAs under the tutelage of MacLeod, whose skiers scored NCAA points 74 times and cracked the top 20 on 47 occasions during the season. Grand put in three straight podium performances in the slalom to begin the season, and Willassen podiumed in the GS during the UVM Carnival, becoming the first female Purple Knight to do so in the modern era of the EISA. Between the Alpine and Nordic squads, Saint Michael's extended its streak to 16 consecutive carnival finishes of ninth place or better, including three straight seventh-place showings mid-season. The Purple Knights had never placed as high during the EISA's modern era. MacLeod's teams scored enough points to place among the top five in 14 events, including as the men won the slalom portion of the UVM Carnival. MacLeod was named EISA Alpine Skiing Coach of the Year at season's end.
Meggane Grand, Guillaume Grand and Torjus Grimsrud '19 qualified for the NCAA Championship in 2015-16. Guillaume Grand was among the top 12 in both events, with his ninth-place showing in the slalom producing the first All-America finish in the history of skiing at the College. The Purple Knight trio single-handedly pushed Saint Michael's to a 15th-place showing, the Purple and Gold's top performance at NCAAs since 1988. Two other Alpine men narrowly missed the cut for NCAAs under the tutelage of MacLeod, whose skiers scored NCAA points 51 times and cracked the top 20 on 33 occasions during the season. MacLeod's men's team scored enough points to place among the top five on nine dates, including a second-place performance in the slalom portion of the Bates College Carnival. At the year-end Block 'M' Awards Banquet, MacLeod was named Purple Knight Coach of the Year for the second time in four years.
In 2014-15, MacLeod became the first coach in Saint Michael's skiing history to send student-athletes to four different NCAA Championships, as Fredrik Sandell '15 qualified for the third time. At the time, his 19th-place showing during the giant slalom was the best ever by a Purple Knight male in that event at the national meet (surpassed by Grand the next year). In late February, the Alpine and Nordic skiing teams combined to place ninth at the EISA Championship, their highest finish since 2006-07, to continue a run of four straight ninth-place showings, their best since 2008-09. MacLeod's men took top-five team scores twice, including finishing third out of 13 teams during the slalom at the EISA Championship. Purple Knight Alpine skiers placed in the top 20 on 20 occasions.
In 2013-14, MacLeod and the Purple Knights sent Brad Farrell '16 to compete at the NCAA Championship in Utah. At the time, Farrell's 19th-place showing in the slalom matched the second-best performance ever by a Purple Knight male at an NCAA Championship. MacLeod's men placed among the top five in an event twice during the winter, taking fourth in the slalom at the Williams College Carnival and fifth in the slalom at the year-end EISA Championship. Purple Knight men and women combined for 17 top-20 finishes in 2013-14.
During the winter of 2012-13, MacLeod's men's team finished among the top five in an event three times. All told, Saint Michael's men and women individually placed in a race's top 20 on 22 occasions. At season's end, Sandell qualified for his second straight NCAA Championship, with MacLeod becoming the first head coach in the history of Saint Michael's skiing - Alpine or Nordic - to have a student-athlete post four top-30 showings in a two-year span at the NCAA Championship. MacLeod was named the Athletic Department's Purple Knight Co-Coach of the Year for the 2012-13 academic year.
In 2010-11, his first season as head coach, MacLeod guided a young squad to several top 20 individual finishes in the highly-competitive EISA before seeing Sandell qualify for the NCAA Championship in 2011-12. As technical coach in 2009-10, MacLeod worked with a team that included Brad Harden '10, who qualified for the NCAA Championship for the second straight season.
MacLeod, a Vermont native, attended high school at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine before skiing competitively at Plymouth (N.H.) State University for two seasons. MacLeod then transferred to Saint Michael's, where he again skied competitively before earning his bachelor of science degree in business administration in 2002.
After graduating from Saint Michael's, MacLeod spent three seasons coaching at the Mount Mansfield Ski Club in Stowe, Vt. After that, he accepted a position working for the U.S. Ski Team, where he spent the four seasons prior to returning to Saint Michael's. MacLeod worked and traveled with the men's Alpine team while with the U.S. Ski Team, and spent two seasons with the men's World Cup Speed Team.
|EISA Championship||NCAA Championship||Notes|
|2011-12||10th/16||19th/21||1 NCAA Championship Qualifier|
|2012-13||10th/17||20th/21||1 NCAA Championship Qualifier|
|2013-14||10th/15||19th/23||1 NCAA Championship Qualifier|
|2014-15||9th/15||18th/23||1 NCAA Championship Qualifier|
|2015-16||9th/16||15th/21||3 NCAA Championship Qualifiers
First All-America Skier in SMC History
|2016-17||9th/18||15th/21||EISA Alpine Skiing Coach of the Year
3 NCAA Championship Qualifiers
|2017-18||7th/15||12th/23||4 NCAA Championship Qualifiers|
|2018-19||8th/14||13th/24||5 NCAA Championship Qualifiers
First All-America First Team Skier in SMC History
|9 Years||19 NCAA Championship Qualifiers|