|Middlebury's David Donaldson wins the opening EISA giant slalom race at Stowe (photo: Cory Ransom)|
STOWE, Vt. — Despite injury and national team commitments preventing some of the University of Vermont’s top alpine skiers from competing in their home Carnival, the Catamounts took an early lead in the team standings after the first day of giant slalom racing at Stowe Mountain Resort. Kate Ryley and Kristina Riis-Johannessen took top podium honors for the Cats, and newcomer Morgan Megarry finished in third for the men. Although Vermont’s women’s team was able to win as a whole, New Hampshire dominated men’s team scoring and the Wildcats currently sit 50 points behind Vermont in second place.
“It’s hard to say when you start out,” said Vermont’s director of skiing Bill Reichelt. “I know Middlebury has a really strong men’s team, so they were in it to win it today, but they had some problems in the second run. It’s a good feeling to have a decent day in GS, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
David Donaldson, the former UVM skier who is completing his final year of NCAA eligibility as a Middlebury Panther, claimed victory in the men’s race followed by Wildcat Sam Coffey who made his second career trip to an EISA podium result.
“I was really stoked after first run because we had three guys in the top 5, and we were looking to make a good move,” remarked Donaldson. “The fact that those guys are right there with me in training, they know they can be fast. After that first run, we all knew we could be fast. It bodes well for the rest of the season, and all roads lead to NCAAs.”
The Panthers will have to jockey hard for the top spot with New Hampshire who also has a specific goal in mind.
“I know a goal for our men’s team, we’ve been talking, and we want to sweep a podium,” noted Coffey. “UVM has done it, and we think we can. We have a bunch of fast guys, and if three of us have a really good day, we think we can do it.”
Coffey was supported by teammates Taylor Vest-Burton in fifth and Kris Hopkins in sixth. Vermont gave close chase with Sean Higgins in fourth and Travis Dawson, the winner of the second run, ultimately finishing seventh.
“It was a little choppy for the men, and they just had to use the tactics that we talked about. They executed very well, and they did a lot better second run,” acknowledged Reichelt.
The surprise of the day was St. Lawrence University’s Allison Visconti, an athlete who had shown past potential in EISA slalom races but had never finished inside the top 15. She climbed from 13th in the first run to finish third, her career first NCAA podium.
UVM Carnival racing continues tomorrow (Jan. 12) when the alpine teams contest the slalom event at Stowe Mountain Resort.
Team Scores (after Day 1, alpine only):
1. Vermont – 250
2. New Hampshire - 200
3. Middlebury - 193
4. Dartmouth - 189
5. St. Lawrence - 157
6. Colby - 126
7. Williams – 119
8. Bates – 98
9. Saint Michael’s – 70
10. Boston College – 61
11. Plymouth State – 61
12. Harvard – 53