Despite the unfortunate weather conditions that led to the cancellation of Saturday's races, the Colby college race volunteers rallied against the freezing rain by grooming a speedy 1.7KM loop, for Sunday's individual start, skate competition. The homologated course which involved only skiing on Quarry Road’s ‘North Koons Trail’ required women to ski the loop 3 times, and Men 6 times, for totals slightly over 5KM and 10KM. Although groomers went out at 4 a.m. to prime the course, single-digit temperatures still made corners icy and tricky for skiers to maneuver.
Blue skies, sunshine, and fast skiing conditions held up throughout the afternoon giving both women and men competitors a great kickoff to their 2018 EISA seasons. The short loop and icy turns allowed technical racers to rise to success. Winners in both races were a mix of returning powerhouses picking up where they left off from last season and newcomers making a name for themselves within the EISA circuit.
In both races, Dartmouth and UVM teams shined grabbing five out of the six podium spots, but the biggest victory of the day was hometown favorite Zane Fields winning the men's race for Colby College. The Mules Junior finished the 10.2KM course in 27:52, fifteen seconds ahead of UVM runner-up Finn O’ Connell in 28:07, and rounded out by Dartmouth’s Luke Brown in 28:34.
Fields commented that this win made him feel “on top of the world” with all his friends and family present to share his victory. Despite the Quarry Trails being his stomping ground, Fields stated that this course was “way more difficult than expected” with the “long A climb that really took it out of you.” Despite the challenge, Fields said his plan was just “put his head down and go,” and based on his results it looks like he followed that thinking to a tee. This first victory allows Fields to stay in line with his goal of winning every skate race this EISA season, an ambitious and exciting challenge for fans to check in on, over the six weeks of competition.
Sophomore skier Finn O’Connell (UVM) was also happy about his race, gaining his first podium in the EISA circuit, and giving him the confidence to set his sights on qualifying for NCAA’s in his hometown of Steamboat, CO. O’ Connell explained that it was nice being bib 5 “before the majority of racers had torn up the corners.” Lap by Lap the corners appeared harder to maneuver, making his strategy to “stay on [his] feet and see how hard [he] could push himself.” This plan was echoed by Luke Brown (DAR) who came in third, stating that six loops where conditions only worsened, made the turns “nerve-wracking,” especially due to the fact that the same type of conditions led him to hit into a tree previously at nationals. Brown too hopes to qualify for Nationals and keep improving throughout the season. In the team competition, UVM won with 242 points above Dartmouth with 226 points. Middlebury came in third with 196 points.
In the women’s 5.1K race UVM powerhouse Alayna Sonnesyn took the win in 15:29, an almost twenty second lead over Dartmouth newcomer Katharine Ogden in 15:48. Sonnesyn commented that she knew this course was going to be fast due to the icy conditions so her strategy was to “start off as hard as [she] could, recover on the downhills, and make smooth transitions.” She noted that although this win made her excited for the 2018 season the idea that this was her final year on the carnival circuit made it a bittersweet experience, leading her to want to keep up this momentum and end on a high note.
The Women’s podium was rounded out by Ogden’s teammate Lauren Jortberg. The big green teammates praised the race organizers for putting on a race they “didn’t even think was possible” after seeing the course upon the cancellation of Saturday's competition. After warming up Sunday morning, they agreed with Field’s strategy and prioritized “just sending it.” This mindset led the Dartmouth Women to a team victory with 260 points, above runner-up UVM with 248 points. Middlebury was third with 178 points. Ogden and Jortberg welcome this first team win and hope “to continue to have solid team results throughout the season,” leading up to NCAA’s.
|Women's Podium - Jorberg, Sonnesyn, and Ogden|
Due to the Alpine races for Colby carnival taking place next weekend, the overall team competition can only be currently based on the combined total of today’s women’s and men’s Nordic races. Based on those totals the University of Vermont came out with a narrow lead of 490 points above Dartmouth College with 486 points. Middlebury College rounded out the podium with 374 points.
Next weekend EISA skiers will compete at the St. Michael’s carnival in Richmond, VT on January 20th and 21st. Saturday will be kicked off with 10KM/15KM individual skate races which will be held on a 5K loop. Sunday will follow with men’s and women’s 3 by 5KM relays on the same 5KM loop. Stay tuned for a video recap of Sunday’s races and see you all next weekend.