EISA action continued Saturday morning in Lake Placid, NY with individual start distance skate races. The challenging 5-kilometer course used for both the women’s 5k and the men’s 10k race featured a series of grueling climbs out of the stadium to the course’s high point located just after the 3-kilometer mark and was followed by a series of sweeping descents back to the finish.
Warm temperatures, a light mist, and a firm base greeted the start of the women’s race. As the morning progressed, conditions softened creating arduous climbs and challenging corners by the time the men’s race was underway.
In both races, it Dartmouth College that reigned supreme as both Lydia Blanchet and Cal Deline from the big green took victories. The success continued behind them as Dartmouth achieved five out of six EISA podium spots for the day.
In the women’s race, Blanchet skied to a narrow victory, covering the course in 14:43.7, three seconds faster than runner-up Alayna Sonnesyn of the University of Vermont. She was followed by Lauren Jortberg (DAR). For the team result, Dartmouth won the day with 135 points to runner-up UVM’s 99 points. UNH was third with 89 points.
“I love 5k skates,” Blanchet said after the race, “I was very excited going into it.” Given the extended climb, Blanchet explained, her plan was simple. “My strategy was to just take it out as fast as I could and ski hard. My legs felt great so I climbed as fast as I could.” Going in to the race hoping for victory, Blanchet was excited with her result explaining that after an injury this fall she was unsure what sort of fitness she would come into the season with.
Sonnesyn too was happy with her perfomance. “I’m very tired from racing all four rounds yesterday so I think where I ended up is a really good day for me,” she said. In contrast to Blanchet, Sonnesyn felt that her focus on transition areas carried her to success. “The uphills were hard but I felt like I made up a lot of time on the rolling sections on the top part of the course,” she said. “Coming into the stadium, I felt that I had skied the downhills really well and I expected a good result.”
In the men’s race, Cal Deline established himself as an early frontrunner for distance races this season as he skied to a commanding victory in 26:59.6, seventeen seconds ahead of second place teammate Fabian Stocek (DAR). Luke Brown’s third place finish capped of Dartmouth’s podium sweep. Brown was 37 seconds back of Deline. In the team competition, Dartmouth proved victorious with 141 points. Second place went to UVM with 100 points and third to Colby College with 99 points.
“I wanted to really push the first lap then just try to hang on,” Deline explained of his pre-race strategy. He did just that as he posted the fastest time to the top of the first lap’s climb by nearly 30 seconds. Deline, who also recently qualified for the U23 World Championships, explained that his recent results leave him feeling positive for races ahead. “I’m hoping to have some fun at U23s then move on to NCAAs and place high there,” he stated of his goals for the season.
After narrowly missing the men’s final yesterday, Brown was pleased to be a part of Dartmouth’s dominance today. “I was a little slow out of the gate but I knew I would speed up,” he explained. Brown was excited not simply for his personal result but also for what this weekend’s races suggest for his team’s season long prospects. “I think we have a good shot at doing well this carnival season. We defiantly want to stack the EISA points list and get some good results at NCAAs.”
Another school posting top results in the men’s race was Colby College with two skiers, Zane Fields and Silas Eastman, who achieved 5th and 7th respectively. “We killed it today,” Fields said after the race. Head coach Tracey Cote explained that working into the race was critical to her team’s success. “The game plan was to go out relaxed and then to pick it up and have the second lap be better than the first.” Cote and Fields both agreed that they hope this early success bodes well for qualifying multiple skiers from Colby for the NCAA Championships in March.
In the overall team competition, Dartmouth prevailed with a combined score of 961 points. The University of Vermont was second with 830 points and the University of New Hampshire was third with 647 points.
EISA skiers will next compete January 27th and 28th in Jackson, New Hampshire at the UNH Carnival. Friday’s individual start races feature a women’s 5 kilometer and a men’s 10 kilometer. Saturday’s mass start races will be 15 kilometers for women and 20 kilometers for men.