Monday, February 4, 2013

Big Green Kicks Within 8 Points of Champion Catamounts

Dartmouth's Tarling and Middlebury's Lustgarten pace one another to the podium (photo: Cory Ransom)

STOWE, Vt. — The Dartmouth Nordic team came oh so very close to taking down the seemingly indomitable Vermont Catamounts in the final day of competition at UVM’s home carnival. Despite posting double victories by Sam Tarling and Annie Hart, two athletes who recently returned to EISA competition after racing in U23 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, Dartmouth could only come within eight points of their 30-point deficit heading into the last day of races.

“I’m just so happy to be back with the team. I love the carnivals, I think they’re the best racing, they top anything,” said Hart. “My goal was not to fall, but then to go really hard once I didn’t fall. The downhill at the start was so tricky and crazy and then with kick wax coming off the ski, you don’t want to have to go so slowly because it will come right off, and you have to go up the hills.”

Skate race winner Annie Pokorny of Middlebury managed another podium finish in second, and Vermont’s Anja Gruber, sporting the Leader Bib, cruised into third, but not without a bit of misfortune followed by encouragement from her rivals.

“It was so fast. The downhills got really sketchy and icy, and I had a little fall in the second lap,” confessed Gruber. “Having such a competitive field is really, really fun. Actually, it was so great because when I fell, they all just were like, ‘Anja! Get up!’ They were so nice and really helped me a lot. We ski together,” reasoned Gruber.

“I think we’re fortunate that we have a really strong circuit. It just makes us all that much better. We’re all really supportive of each other,” said Hart.

Newcomers Corey Stock of Dartmouth and Linda Danvind-Malm of Vermont finished sixth and seventh, respectively, to pick up more team points for the battling schools.

“I love when the freshmen do well! I think confidence-wise and team morale, we’re pretty stoked on life right now,” said Hart.

The women’s Leader Bib in the skate standings has developed into an intense battle as Gruber, Taylor (UNH), and Bean (UNH)  all hold 160 points at the conclusion of the first three races. The addition of ladies who have returned from international competition will further intensify and shake up standings after the Dartmouth Carnival.

Sam Tarling, who led Vermont’s Scott Patterson by a mere second at the intermediate split in the men’s race, opened the gap to 10 seconds on his closest competitor by the time he crossed the finish line. Tarling and Patterson, who finished in reverse order the previous day, will likely be in hot contention for all remaining EISA races this winter.

However, Middlebury’s Ben Lustgarten proved, once again, that he is a serious threat in classic as he retained the Leader Bib for one more week by finishing third. Silas Talbot and Steven Mangan locked up positions four and five for Dartmouth, respectively. But Jorgen Grav and Cole Morgan picked up the next scoring slots for Vermont, and enabled their team to hold on to the home carnival victory. 

Final team scores at the conclusion of the UVM Carnival:
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT              UVM   868.0            
2.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE                  DAR   860.0            
3.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE        UNH   744.0            
4.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE                 MID   673.0            
5.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE                   WIL   519.0            
6.   BATES COLLEGE                      BAT   501.5            
7.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY             SLU   480.5            
8.   COLBY COLLEGE                      CBC   439.5            
9.   HARVARD UNIVERSITY                 HAR   351.5            
10.  ST MICHAELS COLLEGE                SMC   249.5            
11.  BOWDOIN COLLEGE                    BOW   193.0            
12.  BOSTON COLLEGE                     BC    172.0            
13.  UNIVERSITE' LAVAL                  LAV   138.5            
14.  PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY          PSU   117.0            
15.  UNIVERSITY OF ME -PRESQUE ISLE     UMPI  109.0            
16.  COLBY SAWYER COLLEGE               CSC    75.0