Saturday, January 26, 2013

Donaldson Blocks UVM Sweep at Day 1 of Colby Carnival

Dartmouth's Abby Fucigna rips to a podium finish at Sugarloaf (photo: Cory Ransom)

CARRABASSETT VALLEY/WATERVILLE, Maine — On the opening day of the Colby College Carnival, Middlebury’s David Donaldson claimed victory in the giant slalom to block a threatening podium sweep by the University of Vermont. Convincing victories by Catamounts Kate Ryley in the slalom and Anja Gruber in the 5k classic have propelled UVM into the team lead. Calculating the classic, giant slalom, and slalom races (to be reported on tomorrow), Vermont (731) currently maintains a 104-point lead over Dartmouth (627), while New Hampshire (584) is third and Middlebury (540.5) sits fourth.

The University of New Hampshire Nordic women prevailed once again in the 5k classic despite Gruber’s victory. Wildcat Annika Taylor was second, Anya Bean seventh, and Elizabeth Izzo eighth in the race held on a new trail network in Waterville near the Colby campus. The women’s podium was rounded out by Dartmouth’s Emily Blackmer in third.

Alpine Panther David Donaldson was joined in victory by his Nordic teammate Ben Lustgarten in the men’s 10k classic. It was a career first EISA victory for the Middlebury junior. Dartmouth’s Scott Lacy and Silas Talbot, who swapped places from last weekend’s 20k classic race, finished second and third, respectively.  

On his strategy for the course, Lustgarten remarked, "I really just tried to hit those longer steep hills hard and then attempted to recover with a strong double-pole in the flats and recover as much as possible in the three-second tuck on the tiny downhills. The weather was not as bas as training this past week so it felt really good actually, could race in a headband so that was really nice." 

Over an hour away at the bone-chillingly cold and windy Sugarloaf, Lustgarten's Panther counterpart Donaldson held off UVM’s Sean Higgins, Morgan Megarry, Travis Dawson, and Dom Garand who commanded positions 2-5. For California native Sean Higgins, it was his first NCAA podium since winning the Williams Carnival slalom last February.

“I was fourth a couple more times than I’d like this year, so it was definitely a great feeling to be back on the podium. We love Donnie and we have so much respect for his skiing, so it’s not that big of a deal when he beats us,” said a pleased yet humbled Higgins.

Vermont’s Kate Ryley claimed a big win in the giant slalom as well with a greater than one second margin of victory over defending NCAA champion Rebecca Nadler of Harvard. Abby Fucigna of Dartmouth squeezed into third for the Big Green and also collected her career first EISA podium result.

“I was trying to win, but a podium is a good first step. I had an interesting start to the season figuring out equipment, and I’ve been skiing a little better in GS, so this is a step in the right direction,” reasoned Fucigna.

Also noteworthy in the giant slalom was Avril Dunleavy of Bates who started with bib 32 and climbed her way to a fourth-place finish. New Hampshire’s Jenna Kantor, who had struggled to put two solid race runs together this season, started in position 35 and clawed into seventh. Crowd favorite Jim Ryan of the home team Mules posted a top-10 finish for his Colby fans.

Complete Carnival results here