Sunday, January 10, 2016

El Nino Can't Slow Eastern Collegiate Skiers

In spite of an exceptionally slow start to winter, the EISA Nordic season will get underway next weekend with the Bates Winter Carnival. The lack of snow has meant that the majority of eastern skiers have been struggling to get on snow, but that hasn’t stopped them from preparing for their upcoming season. Large groups of collegiate racers were to be found wherever limited snow could be pulled together. Many schools made the annual pilgrimage to Foret Montmorency, QC over the thanksgiving break to take advantage of their 2.4 kilometer loop. Still more could be found at the Eastern Cup Openers in Craftsbury, VT toughing it out on a small, but fast, race loop.  

All their hard work is paying off as the EISA prepares for another extremely competitive season of Nordic racing. More than 43 EISA skiers from 7 schools have made the trek to Houghton, Michigan for Senior Nationals. EISA skiers are once again putting in a good showing at senior nationals with a combined 14 top 30 finishes so far and one day of racing to go. These top results come in a race field containing some of the best Nordic talent in the US and point towards another banner season for the EISA.

The EISA has also maintained the majority of its top talent from last season, having graduated just 10 of the 27 athletes that represented the east at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Top teams to watch out for this season include the University of Vermont who return with 5 members of their 6 skier NCAA squad. With a powerful senior team of Stephanie Kirk, MK Cirelli, Jorgan Grav, Jack Hegman, and Cole Morgan, we can expect big things from UVM Nordic this season.

Perennial favorites Dartmouth will also be looking to returning athletes Cory Stock and Fabian Stocek to lead their squad this season.  University of New Hampshire will also be returning with its entire men’s team from last year’s NCAAs and are looking strong heading into the season. While none of their team headed out to test their mettle at Senior Nationals, Gavin Hess and Raleigh Goessling (last season’s rookie of the year) had strong starts to their season at the Eastern Cup openers. On the women’s side UNH will look to Katrin Larusson and Maddy Pfeifer to fill the shoes of 2015 graduate Annika Taylor.

Middlebury College returns with half their 2015 NCAA team, including Kelsey Phinney and Patrick McElravey, while Colby College, Bowdoin College, Harvard University, and Williams College will also be returning with athletes who competed at NCAAs last year. They’ll be looking to scoop NCAA qualifying spots from the larger teams this season.  

Don’t rule out the small schools that have either graduated their top skiers or missed out on qualifying for NCAAs last season. St. Lawrence University and Bates College have consistently had a top skier in contention, while back of the pack schools like University of Maine Presque Isle and Saint Michael’s College have in recent seasons been closing the gap.  

Join us January 15th and 16th in Waterville, Maine as we kick off the 2016 season with the Bates Winter Carnival.