Sunday, February 16, 2014

Caldwell, Dartmouth Men Cruise at Williams Carnival

WOODFORD, VT. — Patrick Caldwell, a former high school nordic standout at Ford Sayre and Stratton Mountain School, is now making a name for himself on the EISA circuit. Caldwell, a freshman at Dartmouth, already had two podium finishes before this weekend, both in the skate technique. He would add one in relay competition and one in the classic discipline before the weekend was over.

Stephanie Kirk anchors the Catamount women to first place in the women's 3.2k relay. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
Prospect Mountain received 27 inches of snow in 24 hours before racing even began on Friday, and precipitation continued well into the afternoon, making relay conditions slow and soft at the Williams Winter Carnival. That didn't seem to bother the UVM women, who powered to victory over Dartmouth by nearly a minute and a half on a challenging Prospect race course. Linda Danvind-Malm led Dartmouth's Annie Hart by some 10 seconds going into the second leg. Then Anja Gruber simply took control of the race by more than a minute and paved the way for Stephanie Kirk to finish off a successful race for the Catamounts.

Dartmouth's team of Annie Hart, Emily Hannah, and Corey Stock skied a consistent race but could not withstand the attack of the the powerhouse UVM team.

Another story of the day was the incredible skiing of Bowdoin's women's team, especially that of their star Kaitlynn Miller. Starting from 6th place after the second lap, Miller skied the second-fastest time of the day to jump all the way to third and finish with a podium spot.

Patrick Caldwell and David Sinclair lead the Dartmouth men's relay teams to a 1-2 finish in the men's 3x5k race. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
With UVM suffering again from the absence of Scott Patterson, the men's race was all Dartmouth. The UVM first team was in the mix through two laps of the race, but Patrick Caldwell (Dartmouth 1) and David Sinclair (Dartmouth 2) simply skied away from UVM anchor Jorgen Grav. The second team of Erik Fagerstrom, Cam Woodworth, and David Sinclair were actually ahead of the field after the first leg, thanks to gutsy skiing from Fagerstrom. The first team of Fabian Stocek, Silas Talbot, and Patrick Caldwell got a boost from a huge effort from Talbot, who skied the fastest leg of the day, and a strong finish from Caldwell, who beat Sinclair to the line by just 1.3 seconds. The UVM first team consisted of Cole Morgen, Jack Hegman, and Jorgen Grav.

EISA Classic Leader Anja Gruber of UVM wins the women's 5k classic by 15 seconds over Bowdoin's Kaitlynn Miller. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
The UVM women were just as dominant on Saturday, a day that featured more light snow and soft conditions. Anja Gruber looked dominant once again and skied to another win, her fourth classic victory in as many races this season. Gruber is the top skier in the east and is just one skate win away from a perfect qualifying score for the NCAA championship in March. Gruber credited the grooming and course maintenance for setting solid tracks. "I was amazed at how good a job [the staff] did. I expected it to be a lot more soft and sloppy, but the tracks held up pretty well," she said. "I had good kick and good glide today, I just tried to stride hard over the tops of hills." Linda Danvind-Malm, the current EISA skate leader, was third on Saturday. The pair was joined by Stephanie Kirk in 11th to combine for first on the day.

Dartmouth put three skiers in the top-10 to take second. Annie Hart led the Big Green in fourth, followed by Carly Wynn in 7th and Corey Stock in 10th. Wynn's 7th was a tie for her best result of the season, but currently sits just outside of Dartmouth's top-three qualifiers for NCAAs. Stock, however, currently sits in Dartmouth's second qualifying spot.

Bowdoin's women impressed again on Saturday, and again it was the elder Miller sister, Kaitlynn, leading the team to a third-place finish on the day. Kaitlynn Miller notched the first podium of her career, slotting between the two UVM skiers and demonstrating an excellent late-season rise to form. Buoying her result was a similarly impressive race from her sister Hannah, in 8th. The race was the best of Hannah Miller's career, helping the Polar Bears to third on the day. Olivia Cannon was Bowdoin's third scorer.

Rounding out the top-10 were Hallie Grossmann of Bates (5th), Heather Mooney of Middlebury (6th), and Jen Rolfes of Harvard in 9th.

Patrick Caldwell skiing to his first ever EISA win. (Ian Nesbitt/EISA)
The Dartmouth men cleaned up on Saturday, and it was Patrick Caldwell leading the charge for the Big Green once again. Caldwell scored his first ever win on the EISA circuit, in just his second classical start of the season. "I felt that [the tracks] set up really nicely despite the snow, and we had good kick and good glide out there," he remarked after the race. "It was a fun course; I'm feeling good about our fitness." Dartmouth's team score was dominant as they put all three scorers in the top-5. Caldwell's teammate Silas Talbot was 18 seconds back in second, and a blazing-fast second lap by Fabian Stocek put him in fifth. Also making the top-10 was David Sinclair, who finished 8th.

UVM was second on the day, with Cole Morgen and Jack Hegman in 7th and 8th, and Jorgen Grav in 15th. Morgen and Hegman skied consistently over the two-lap course, each only losing one place (to Stocek) between the halfway split and the finish.

The Williams men got the chance to impress the home crowd, using their depth to claim third as a team. Eli Hoenig was 9th, further solidifying his freshman year NCAA bid. Vanya Rybkin skied a 9th-place first lap, but faded slightly to 12th over the final 5k. Will Wicherski rounded out the Ephs' scoring in 20th.

Rounding out the top-10 were Eirik Fosnaes of UNH (3rd), Ben Lustgarten of Middlebury (4th), and Chris Stock of Harvard (10th).

With the EISA regular season now over, the focus shifts to the Regional Championships, hosted by Middlebury College, which will be the last opportunity for athletes to qualify for NCAA competition. Friday's 5/10k classical individual start races will be followed by 15 and 20k mass-starts on Saturday.