Friday, January 15, 2016

A Fast Kickoff to Nordic Season

Waterville, ME

After weeks of stress over snow conditions the EISA Carnival season kicked off this morning with the Bates Carnival. Despite the entire EISA desperately wishing for snow, the Bates organizers were forced to make the difficult decision to move the races from their home course at Black Mountain to the snowier trails of Quarry Road. The Colby College venue has welcomed the unexpected racers with open arms and have worked tirelessly to ensure that the course is in the best possible shape. They succeeded, managing to make enough snow to ensure racer’s skis were protected from rocks by a 24” base depth. The addition of 4-6” of natural snow meant that the 1.5 km race loop showed no evidence of the unseasonably warm winter.

The Carnival weekend kicked off with an exciting round of 1.5 km Classic sprints. The day dawned clear and cold with coaches arriving to test wax in single digits. It quickly warmed up, however, and by the time racers got under way temperatures had risen into the teens. Women raced first, setting a fast pace in near perfect tracks. In the qualifiers it was Kelsey Phinney of Middlebury that prevailed setting the pace at 4:04.1, a full 5 seconds ahead of second place qualifier Mattie Watts of the University of Vermont. In the end it would take a time of no more than 4:24.4 to make the top 30 and move on to the heats later in the day. The Dartmouth women sent the message that they were back in fighting form early by qualifying 6 women into the heats, one more than University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire who each qualified 5.

Half an hour after the women got underway the men were off. Cole Morgan of the University of Vermont set the pace, leading the qualifiers in 3:25.2. The next three qualifiers Peter Holmes of the University of New Hampshire, Alexis Morin of Laval, and Jack Hegman (UVM) all came in within .3 seconds of each other. In the end it would take a time of 3:41.4 to land in the top 30 and move onto the heats. This time it was the University of Vermont’s chance to show their dominance, sending 6 men into the heats. The University of New Hampshire was next putting 4 men in the top 30.

The blue skies had clouded over by the time the heats got underway. While Kelsey Phinney (MID) continued to dominate her quarter and semifinals, it was Corey Stock of Dartmouth that outsprinted her to the line to claim the first EISA win of the season. Second place qualifier Mattie Watts (UVM) rounded out the podium. The A final was rounded out with stellar season opening performances by Olivia Amber of Colby College in 4th, Hannah Miller of Bowdoin College in 5th, and Taryn Hunt-Smith of Dartmouth in 6th.

In the men’s heats it was 5th place qualifier Jorgen Grav of the University of Vermont who would win his quarter and semifinals on his way to winning the sprint finals. Teammate Jack Hegman finished 2nd, and Alexis Morin of Laval sprinted to 3rd. The men’s final was rounded out by Peter Holmes (UNH), Cole Morgan (UVM), and Eli Hoenig of Williams. After putting three men into the finals, the University of Vermont men have proved they’re the ones to watch this season.

Competition resumes tomorrow with the Women’s 5 km Skate and the Men’s 10 km Skate individual starts.