Friday’s awards ceremony was an unusual sight for the EISA. Dartmouth skiers were absent from both the men’s and women’s podiums for the first time this season. One day later, Dartmouth rebounded and took wins in both mass start skate races. Fabian Stocek and Lauren Jortberg’s victories led the way for a day of Big Green domination.
Warm weather and rain presented racers will a challenging mix of conditions on a grinding course at Black Mountain that challenged racers with two significant climbs. As the day wore on, early hard pack gave way to significant slush that presented skiers with arduous ascents, sweeping downhills, and numerous collisions.
In the men’s 20-kilometer race, Williams College skiers looked to carry on yesterday’s winning ways. One skier for the Ephs, Jordan Fields, made an early bid for glory and seized the lead midway through. Not long after, however, Stocek covered the move. The two would go on to ski neck and neck until the races final significant climb where Stocek surged ahead and held his lead into the finish with a winning time of 51:15. Fields crossed six seconds back in second to claim his best EISA finish of the season. Third place went to Williams skier Eli Honeig. Fourth and fifth place went to Luke Brown and Gavin McEwen respectively, both of Dartmouth College.
On leading early, Fields explained, “It was tight quarters early and I feel more comfortable out front where it’s open. Being out front helped me to conserve energy. His runner-up finish at the regional championships was a pinnacle achievement for his final year of racing and, according to Fields, serves as another testament to the breakout success of the Williams men in the EISA this year. “On our team we are brothers and we have amazing coaches. There’s something intangible about team comraderie. We believe we’re going to be the best and having people there telling you that just makes it happen.”
Dartmouth narrowly won the men’s team competition with 130 points to runner-up Williams College’s 126 points. Third place went to the University of Vermont with 97 points.
The women’s 15-kilometer race saw a large pack of twenty skiers lead through the first lap of the race. Early drama came on the course’s sweeping right-hand downhill as Vermont’s top-ranked Alayna Sonnesyn was involved in a crash that resulted in a broken ski. Soon after, Jortberg began to put the pressure on and pull away from the field. She would go on to cross the line first in 44:44.5. Fifteen seconds later Colby College duo Olivia Amber and Amy Bianco crossed the line in second and third respectively. Fourth place belonged to Elizabeth Gill of the University of New Hampshire. Fifth place went to Bowdoin College’s Hannah Miller.
Dartmouth won the women’s team competition with 122 points. Colby saw its top placement of the season with a second place, 97 point result. Third place went to the University of New Hampshire with 96 points.
The breakout day for the Colby women was due in large part to the strong final laps and top results of Amber and Bianco. When asked, the two were quick to mention that it was the bond of many years spent as training partners that propelled both skiers forward. “We know exactly how we can help each other out in a race,” Amber noted, “my strengths are Amy’s weaknesses and vice-versa, we both know that. When I’m hurting, she knows how to motivate me. Working with her has been unbelievable.” On sharing an EISA podium together for the first time in their final race as seniors, Bianco was ecstatic. “This is what we’ve wanted to do for years. In that second lap, we looked at each other and knew we could do it.” Like Fields for the men, both attributed this hard-fought achievement to their team of four years. “I owe so much to this team,” said Bianco, “This program and the EISA circuit have been fantastic for me.”
EISA skiers now enjoy a week off in preparation for the 2017 NCAA Championships hosted by the University of New Hampshire. Selected athletes will be announced in the coming days.