Saturday, January 20, 2018

UVM Grabs Men's & Women's Individual Titles at Day One of St. Michael's Carnival

The first classic races of the 2018 season got underway today at the St. Michael’s College Carnival in Huntington, VT. Women racing 5KM and men racing 10KM, all with individual starts. Both races were held on a 2.4KM course, which required women to complete two loops and men four loops. Demographically the short course was mostly rolling hills with a few steep climbs, making strong double pollers excel in their fields. 

The first men kicked off at 9:30 AM to begin their four-lap course. Despite it being partly cloudy, male competitors were greeted with temperatures in the low thirty's which was a vast improvement from last weekend’s single digits and made it fairly simple for coaches when it came to waxing. UVM leads the field with Sophomore Bill Harmeyer taking the win for the Wildcats in 24:18. When asked about his race Harmeyer explained how the course was deceivingly hard, “I thought it would be easier because it was flatter and it didn’t appear to have a whole lot of elevation gain but racing it was pretty hard, there was some good rest, but still some really good climbs.” To face this challenge, Harmeyer laughed when he commented that his strategy was just to “go out with good energy and just hold on for dear life.” With one EISA podium already under his belt, Harmeyer doesn’t stop there, setting off tomorrow for races at the U-23 Championships in Switzerland with hopes of more good races. 

Following Harmeyer, Dartmouth’s Luke Brown proved that every millisecond counts when he just barely nudged out UNH’s Peter Holmes for the runner’s up spot finishing in 24:27:53, just.2 seconds faster than Holmes in 24:27:71. Brown with now two EISA podiums under his belt, commented that he enjoyed double polling the whole course since he has seldom been able to do that, making it a good opportunity to get the experience. The only downside to the course being good for double polling was that as more male competitors used this technique the snow surrounding the tracks became “super mushy” and “soft,” making it more difficult to plant one’s poles. Holmes agreed that as more racers were on course “the good conditions softened up for the poles and the course got chewed up, but that’s just how it works,” he commented. To combat these conditions and not “having a lot of splits to work with” due to being Bib 12, Holmes’ strategy was just to “go hard from the start” of the race. In the team competition, strong performances from Brown’s teammates, Callan Deline (5th) and Gavin McEwan (9th) allowed Dartmouth to take the win with 121 points. UVM placed second with 107 points and Middlebury was third with 100 points. 

Peter Holmes Post Race - 3rd in 10K
Temperatures significantly rose throughout the day to nearly forty degrees as the women lined up to start. This vast change in climate made waxing for coaches difficult when it came to the women’s skis. The women who were able to adapt to these tricky conditions were able to snatch those podium spots. In the words of returning winner Alayna Sonnesyn (UVM), “it was a scramble until the very last second but I was confident in my decision to double poll it.” Sonnesyn took the win in 13:05, ten seconds ahead of runner-up Cate Brams (MID) finishing in 13:15, and UVM teammate Lina Sutro rounding out the podium in third. Sonnesyn said that her strategy hadn’t changed much from last weekend, “5K’s are so short that you have to go for it from the gun.” She commented that she focused on the gradual uphills that were almost flat that some people try to recover on, “You can’t recover, you just have to just keep on pushing on those and try to pick up every second you can.” 

Brams shared the same thinking as men’s winner Henry Harmeyer, commenting that, “I went out hard and just tried to hold on.” The Middlebury senior explained that other than this mindset, she had worked out a system with her coach to hear her splits throughout the race. “My coach just basically told me that my assistant coach would be at 1KM, he’d be at 2KM, she’d be at the 3KM, and he’d be at 4KM so I was just trying to hold til’ I saw the next one.” This planning allowed Brams to achieve one of her goals of being on an EISA podium this season. She now looks forward to some strong finishes for her team in the coming races. Third place competitor, Lina Sutro (UVM) also expressed goals of skiing hard and having fun with her team this season. The talented freshman followed Sonnesyn’s strategy of keeping up the double poll tempo since she knew that the race would be fast. The two UVM skiers were rounded up by Mara Nielding (9th) winning them 1st place in the women’s team competition with 125 points. Dartmouth followed with 113 points and Middlebury came in third with 103 points. 

Brams Post Race - 2nd in 5K

Tomorrow EISA competitors will continue racing at the St. Michaels carnival, with 10KM/15M individual start skate races held on a 5KM loop. Men will begin at 9:30 AM and complete 3 loops, while women will kick off at 11:30 to complete 2 loops. Hope to see you all there for the action!