Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weather Challenges Dartmouth Carnival, Vermont Holds Steady Lead

Middlebury's Mary Sackbauer charges to a career first top-5 finish (photo: Cory Ransom)

LYME, N.H./CRAFTSBURY, Vt. — With a blizzard bearing down on much of the East Coast this weekend, EISA officials, coaches, athletes, and volunteers alike faced numerous challenges to complete all events of the Dartmouth Carnival. At the postponement of only the alpine slalom races, UVM currently leads team scoring over the Big Green carnival hosts by 38 points. On the strength of an impressive performance by Middlebury's alpine squad, the Panthers sit third but still remain more than 100 points behind Dartmouth.

In Friday’s classic races, moved to Craftsbury, Vt. due to a lack of snow at Dartmouth prior to the storm, Vermont’s Anja Gruber and Scott Patterson returned to the top step of the podium. Middlebury’s Annie Pokorny turned out another exceptional performance in second, and Bowdoin’s Kaitlynn Miller broke up the typical juggernaut to crack into third. 

“Conditions at Craftsbury were great with lots of new snow, a really challenging course and perfect classic skiing—real winter!” exclaimed Gruber, who won the race by over 18 seconds.I had amazing skis and got good splits from our coaches already half way through the race. Not everybody had been through at that point though, so you really just have to try as hard as you can the whole course. A 5k is over with so quick that you really don't have too much time to think about how you are doing,” she reflected.

In the men’s race, Patterson was chased down by a Dartmouth force led by Sam Tarling in second and Silas Talbot in third. Vermont and Dartmouth skiers locked up the top seven positions in the race, quite reminiscent of the EISA women’s competition last season.

I would say this year for men's Nordic is very similar to the women's last year; both the UVM and Dartmouth teams are very deep, and we both seem to be packing our racers in the top 5 in every race,” acknowledged Talbot. “There are certainly skiers, like Ben Lustgarten from Middlebury and Jordan Buetow from Bates, who have done a good job of cracking the podium and the top 10, but it is for sure dominated by our two schools.”

Explaining how the Dartmouth men have worked together for both individual and team success, Talbot continued, “With a team in which all six of our racers are capable of putting up a top-5 result, we know that pushing one another in a race is the best way for a good team score.”

Dartmouth followed up with team success in Saturday’s 3x5k freestyle relays where their men’s and women’s squads both claimed victory over Vermont. In the women’s race, UNH clawed into third, while Middlebury did so in the men’s event.

Back in New Hampshire at the Dartmouth Skiway, snow and wind challenged athletes on the giant slalom course down Holt’s Ledge. The wind was so aggressive on Saturday that lifts did not open at the mountain in time to hold the race. Organizers are now looking for a date and location to make-up the event.

But in Friday's giant slalom, the Vermont trio of Kristina Riis-Johannessen, Elli Terwiel, and Kate Ryley once again swept the podium. Middlebury’s Mary Sackbauer logged a career first top-5 result in FIS University competition. The Vail, Colo. native built off double 12th-place finishes at the Colby Carnival to make a statement on the circuit.

I have been making good turns in training and in races, but couldn't put it all together until today,” said Sackbauer. “We had a really good training at Burke the other day, and I figured a few things out.”

Adjusting to skiing in the East wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for the Coloradan, but she seems to have it figured out now. “The conditions were definitely hard to get used to. I hadn't ever been as cold as we were in Sugarloaf last weekend…. As for the ice, it took a long time for me to feel comfortable and confident on it,” Sackbauer added.

In the men’s giant slalom, Sackbauer’s teammate David Donaldson extended his winning streak in the event to all four of the contested carnivals to date. Vermont’s Sean Higgins claimed the lead after first run but ultimately settled for second, and Middlebury’s Andrew McNealus was third.

Team scores for the Dartmouth Carnival at the conclusion of all Nordic races and the alpine giant slalom:
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT  713.0           
2.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE  675.0           
3.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE  565.0           
4.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE  520.0           
5.   BATES COLLEGE  384.0           
6.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE  346.0           
7.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY 318.0            
8.   COLBY COLLEGE  291.0           
9.   HARVARD UNIVERSITY  241.0           
10.   UNIVERSITE' LAVAL  226.0           
11.   BOWDOIN COLLEGE  201.0           
12.   ST MICHAELS COLLEGE  140.0           
13.   BOSTON COLLEGE  100.0           
14.   PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY  52.0