Sunday, January 26, 2014

UVM Notches 10th Straight Overall Carnival Win; Dartmouth Takes 3 Nordic Team Victories

Anja Gruber (UVM) strides to another convincing victory and leads the Catamounts to their tenth overall carnival win in a row. (Photo: Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
Proverbially speaking, Dartmouth's Nordic teams won a few battles at the UNH Winter Carnival, but UVM held on to win the war.  Anja Gruber made sure of it.  Gruber glided easily to two more individual EISA wins this weekend, and has now won three of the four league competitions so far this season, easily locking in a position at the top of the ranking list for the remainder of the year.

Jorgen Grav skied comfortably to the top of the podium during Friday's 10k classic race.  Grav posted a nearly 30-second victory over the field on a frigid New Hampshire morning, asserting Gurber-esque dominance on the Jackson XC Center's signature 5k race loop.  Teammates Cole Morgan and Jack Hegman finished 4th and 5th to solidify what would be the Catamounts' only team win of the weekend.

Silas Talbot led the Big Green of Dartmouth with a second-place finish, skiing nearly identical laps to another outstanding performance in the classical discipline.  Behind him were Cam Woodworth (6th) and David Sinclair (8th).

Per Lindgren led the home UNH Wildcats to a team podium in the men's 10k classic race. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
Per Lindgren nabbed his first podium of the year for the UNH Wildcats and gave the home fans a show.  Lindgren, a classical specialist, was followed by Johnny Springer (14th, a career-best finish) and Eirik Fosnaes (18th) to give the Wildcats a team podium spot.

Harvard continued their impressive year with a fourth-place finish on Friday.  Chris Stock skied a blazing-fast second lap to score another 7th-place finish, nearly catching teammate Akeo Maifield-Carucci—who started just 30 seconds ahead—at the end of 10k.

Dartmouth freshman Fabian Stocek and Bates senior Jordan Buetow rounded out the top-10 on Friday.

In the women's 5k, Dartmouth took advantage of the fact that key Catamounts are currently racing overseas.  Catamount teammates Anja Gruber and Linda Danvind-Malm went 1-2, but Dartmouth placed three skiers solidly in the top-15, with Annie Hart (3rd), Corey Stock (4th) and Carly Wynn (11th) all over UVM's third scorer.

Middlebury was close behind in third, the only team to put three skiers squarely in the top 10.  Kelsey Phinney (7th), Heather Mooney (8th), and Stella Holt (9th) gave the Catamounts a run for their money on Friday.  The Panther racers nearly all skied to career-bests in EISA competition.

Bates junior Hallie Grossman scored her first EISA top-5 of the year with 5th. Kaitlynn Miller of Bowdoin was just 0.1 seconds back of Grossman in sixth, and Katrin Larusson of host UNH was tenth.

Silas Talbot (DAR) leads Patrick O'Brien, Eric Packer, and teammate Fabian Stocek into the last lap of the men's 20k freestyle. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
Saturday started off slightly warmer than the previous day, giving athletes, coaches, and spectators slight reprieve from Friday's subzero morning temperatures.  The men skied a fast-and-furious 20k freestyle race, with the top eight skiers all posting sub 50-minute times.

Silas Talbot of Dartmouth was 3rd on the day and first for EISA, scoring his first skate win of the year, giving him one win for each of the first two weekends.  That set the stage for the Big Green.  Following Talbot was teammate Fabian Stocek, the first podium finish of the year for the freshman out of Holderness School.  Stocek fought to gain contact with the lead pack after just a 13th-best first lap, and was just a few inches and 0.1 of a second from stealing the victory from Talbot.  David Sinclair posted another solid top-ten in seventh, rounding out the scoring for the Big Green.

Laval University of Quebec led the non-NCAA teams with second on the day, placing Frederic Touchette in 6th, David Gregoire in 14th, and Hugo Fontaine in 23rd and scoring the best team result in several years for the Red and Gold.

Lacking Scott Patterson, the Catamounts slipped a spot to third on the day, but still posted two top-5 results.  Rogan Brown climbed his first podium of the year, finishing third, and Friday's winner Jorgen Grav was fifth.

The UNH Wildcats nearly took another podium spot in the 20k skate.  Eirik Fosnaes posted his first top ten skate result of the year in tenth.  Per Lindgren and Johnny Springer both fell out of the top ten after his first lap but fought to 13th and 22nd respectively.

Akeo Maifield-Carucci was a solid 4th in his favored mass-start skate discipline and led Harvard to fifth on the day, just seven points out of second.  The one-two punch of Maifield-Carucci and Stock continues to give Harvard a foot in the door against many established powerhouse teams.

Anja Gruber leads former All-American Caitlin Patterson near the 5k mark of Saturday's race. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
Anja Gruber's dominance over the field was eclipsed only by former UVM Catamount Caitlin Patterson, the overall winner of Saturday's 15k skate mass-start.  Gruber led all EISA scorers again, this time by a minute and a quarter, and continues to impress greatly in all formats.  However, the win and third-place finish from teammate Linda Danvind-Malm was not quite enough to hold off Dartmouth.

Annie Hart skied to her third silver in four races for the Big Green.  Hart has once again established herself as a solid contender, but hasn't yet found the extra gear to challenge the former German National Team member Gruber.  Corey Stock and Emily Hannah finished fourth and fifth, season-best finishes for both racers.

Middlebury put up another bang-bang performance on Saturday, but this time added a fourth skier to the train and took 9th through 12th positions. Kelsey Phinney, Stella Holt, Heather Mooney, and Kaitlin Fink skied a true team race, and gave the Panther women their second team podium of the weekend.

Hallie Grossman (6th; Bates), Kaitlynn Miller (7th; Bowdoin), and Elizabeth Izzo (8th; UNH) completed the top-10 on Saturday.

EISA Nordic action heads to Stowe next week in conjunction with a SuperTour event.  Distances will be "light" and will consist of a classic sprint and 5/10k freestyle race.