The regular season wrapped up this weekend with frigid conditions at the Middlebury Winter carnival. It was a weekend of tough racing on slow, squeaky snow. The normally fast and challenging Rikert downhills were made agonizingly slow by the low temperatures, and racers were clearly struggling to glide on all parts of the course. Despite the challenging conditions, all the college racers showed impressive perseverance. They raced through frozen fingers and feet, sporting a rainbow of KT tape on their faces to protect from windburn and frostbite.
|Tara Humphries of Bates sports pink tape to protect against the bitter cold. (Silke Hynes/EISA)|
The first day of the carnival was forecast to begin far below safe race temperatures, and the organizers made the decision the night before to significantly delay the race starts. The women were first to race, with the start of their 10 km classic delayed until 1 pm. Start intervals were also reduced, from 30 seconds to 15, allowing racers, organizers, and coaches alike to spend less time out in the cold. Through it all the women’s podium was topped by the same girls who have put in top performances week after week. Heather Mooney (MID) raced to home course victory, just 10 seconds ahead of second place Annika Taylor of UNH. Cory Stock (DAR) raced to her fourth podium appearance of the season in third. Stephanie Kirk (UVM) and Hallie Grossman (BAT) duked it out for fourth place, with Kirk edging Grossman by just 3 tenths of a second. It was the Middlebury women who claimed victory on the day, with strong supporting performances by Stella Holt and Nicolette Amber.
|Heather Mooney powers to victory in the women's 10 km classic. (Silke Hynes/EISA)|
The men’s 10 km classic race went off at 2 pm, 2 hours later than originally planned. Jorgen Grav (UVM) raced to first in his third straight podium appearance, less than 6 seconds ahead of Silas Talbot of Dartmouth. Frederic Touchette of Laval was a close third, just over 2 seconds back of Talbot. Per Lindgren (UNH) and Luke Brown (DAR) rounded out the men’s top five. The Dartmouth men secured a win on the day with a 7th place finish from Fabian Stocek.
|Frederic Touchette of Laval powers his way to the podium in the men's 10 km classic. (Silke Hynes/EISA)|
Condition were little better on day two of the carnival. While the temperatures had risen enough for the races to stay on schedule, the previous days sun had disappeared, replaced by flurries and high winds. Once again it was the women who raced first, with their 5 km skate getting underway while most people outside the nordic community were hunkering down somewhere warm. Once again Mooney, Taylor, and Stock left the rest of the women’s field racing for fourth. Annika Taylor (UNH) reclaimed the top of the podium, less than three seconds ahead of Heather Mooney (MID) in second. Stock remained consistent, notching third place ahead of Hallie Grossman of Bates. Mary-Kate Cirelli (UVM) rounded out the top five, less than a second back of Grossman. Teammates Stephanie Kirk and Marion Woods helped the UVM women bring home victory on the day.
|Annika Taylor heads to the finish in the women's 5 km skate. (Silke Hynes/EISA)|
The men’s 10 km skate saw the return of Patrick Caldwell, the Dartmouth powerhouse who was unbeaten heading into the carnival weekend. It was Rogan Brown of UVM who finally managed to steal the top of the podium from Caldwell, claiming victory by a little over 10 seconds. Caldwell raced to second, barely edging out another UVM skier, Jorgen Grav. Frederic Touchette (LAV) snuck into fourth, less than a second ahead of Jack Hegman. With three men in the top five, UVM claimed a decisive overall victory on the day.
|Jack Hegman on his way to a top 5 finish in the men's 10 km skate. (Silke Hynes/EISA)|
The carnival circuit is taking a breather next weekend before heading into the post season in 2 weeks time. The Saint Lawrence Winter Carnival/NCAA Eastern Regional Championship will take place in Lake Placid, NY Feb 27th-28th.