Monday, January 28, 2013

Wildcat Women Maintain Nordic Dominance As Vermont Wins Colby Carnival

New Hampshire's Annika Taylor (4) and Elizabeth Izzo (7) worked together for the team win (photo: C.J. Feehan)

CARRABASSETT VALLEY/WATERVILLE, Maine — The women’s Nordic team from the University of New Hampshire continued to demonstrate its dominance in the second day of the Colby Carnival, but it was the defending NCAA champion University of Vermont Catamounts who once again posted the highest team score for the weekend with 962 points. Dartmouth finished second with 845, and the New Hampshire Wildcats were third with 786 points.

Kristina Riis-Johannessen led the charge in Vermont’s women’s slalom podium sweep at Sugarloaf. Fellow Catamount Elise Tefre was second and Kate Ryley third. Bates’ Avril Dunleavy, who threatened a podium result with her first run, ultimately finished fifth for her second straight top 5 of the weekend.

The men’s slalom saw Norwegian World Cup skier and Vermont Catamount Jonathan Nordbotten get back to his winning ways. He took the win over Middlebury’s David Donaldson by just one-tenth of a second. The undeniably consistent Travis Dawson of UVM rounded out the podium in third, and Dartmouth’s Hunter Black took fourth. Middlebury posted the strongest team scoring in the event behind Vermont’s impressive showing.

Back at the Quarry Road trail network behind Colby College, the mass start skate races had familiar results despite numerous crashes and some up close and personal encounters with trees. Vermont’s Scott Patterson got off to a quick start in the men’s 20k and held a sizeable gap over the competition throughout the entire 5-lap race. He ultimately finished over a minute ahead of runner-up Steven Mangan of Dartmouth. Middlebury’s Ben Lustgarten, the victor from the previous day, finished third. Vermont’s Peter Hegman, who crashed on a rugged downhill turn that took out a handful of competitors, was able to rally to an 11th-place result.

“I definitely turned it into my own race,” noted Patterson. “I do a lot of training on my own, so I like skiing out there on my own. It’s pretty sweet after last year when I was always way back there, struggling and having a miserable time. It’s amazing to be back on top, and I’m really enjoying skiing.”

Despite Anja Gruber’s initial lead in the women’s 15k, strong tactics by New Hampshire Wildcats Annika Taylor, Anya Bean, and Elizabeth Izzo eventually overtook the dominant Catamount who was hung out alone in the lead pack. Taylor and Bean finished first and second, respectively, and Gruber had to settle for third. However, it was Gruber’s fourth podium in as many races, so she had no complaints on the day. Bowdoin’s Kaitlynn Miller turned out an impressive performance in fourth, and Elizabeth Izzo ultimately finished seventh.

“UVM started off really hard, and I don’t like to start off hard, so I kind of just played my race and stayed out of trouble,” said race winner Taylor. “The last laps, I was just trying to push my way on the flats to get around people and then end up first on the downhill because I’m pretty confident on the downhills. It’s surreal! I guess Cory’s [Schwartz] doing something right, and we work so well together as a team.”

Next week’s EISA action is a return to the UVM Carnival where the Nordic portion of the event will be contested Feb. 2-3 at the Trapp Family Lodge.