Friday, February 19, 2016

Long Climbs Challenge on First Day of Williams Carnival

Lake Placid, NY

The EISA Nordic circuit was back in action today, this time for the Williams College Carnival. In a now too familiar course of events, the Williams Carnival was forced to move from its original venue due to lack of snow. Instead of Prospect Mountain the races were contested on the manmade snow loop at the Lake Placid Ski Jumping Complex.

The 2.5 km course, which winds its way up the backside of the jump complex landing hill, climbs for the first half before descending quickly and technically into the stadium below. With both the men and women racing four loops, each gender climbed roughly 700 feet over the course of their race. Today’s 10km skate served at the precursor to tomorrow’s 5km classic pursuit. Racers were under pressure to put in strong performances to set up for tomorrow’s pursuit start.

Though the day dawned in single digits, by the time the women went off at 11:30, temperatures had turned balmy. With classic leader Kelsey Phinney noticeably absent from the field, the top of the podium was up for grabs. Alayna Sonnesyn of the University of Vermont took the opportunity and raced to first in dominating fashion, winning by 18 seconds over teammate Mary-Kate Cirelli. Annie Pokorney of Middlebury snagged the final podium spot, just 1.2 seconds back of Cirelli. UVM’s third scorer, Iris Pessey, raced into fourth for the Catamounts, followed by Lydia Blanchet of Dartmouth less than 2 seconds later.

Mary-Kate Cirelli (43) leads teammate Stephanie Kirk on her way to 2nd place

By the time the race was underway the temperature had risen so much that some men were opting for t-shirts, including men’s skate leader Jorgen Grav. While Grav raced to a strong second place finish it was his UVM teammate Jack Hegman who took the top spot for the day, gapping the field by almost 17 seconds. Fabian Stocek of Dartmouth finished third for his fourth carnival podium of the season. Mirroring the women’s race UVM put its three scorers in the top four with Cole Morgan taking fourth for the Catamounts. The top five was rounded out by Dartmouth’s Callan Devine.

Jack Hegman races to 1st in the 10 km Skate
In tomorrow’s 5km classic pursuit racers will start in today’s order of finish with skiers attempting to make up time lost today. The winner will be the first racer to cross the finish line. Women race at 10 am, while men race at 11:15 am.