Sunday, January 21, 2018

UVM Women Continue to Dominate and Middlebury Men Put on a Strong Showing at St. Michael's Carnival Day 2

The second day of the 2018 St. Michael’s Carnival featured 10KM/15KM, individual start, skate races on a 5KM loop, requiring women to complete two loops and men three loops. The course involved the same 2.4 KM loop from Saturday with some additional long gradual hills mixed in, making the race significantly more challenging. 

Despite the difficult course demographics, skiers got the best of both worlds conditions wise with hard snow that stayed packed throughout the day and temperatures nearing 40 degrees. The sun came out when the first men's racers kicked off at 9:30 AM, alluding that it would be a great day for both skiers and spectators alike.

As more men came through the finish line, the times getting faster and faster, one of the powerhouse athletes that still remained was Colby’s Zane Fields. After his skate victory, last weekend at the Colby Carnival, Fields commented that an exciting goal for the 2018 EISA season would be to win every skate race. Despite this being an ambitious goal, Fields did not disappoint, winning the men’s 15K skate race by nearly thirty-five seconds in 37:56, over runner-up Peter Wolter (MID) in 38:31, and third place finisher Finn O’ Connell (UVM) 28:32. Fields commented that it was “great to have my team to cheer me along.” When asked about what he thought about the course, he explained that it was basically “2.5KM up and 2.5KM down, a lot of good rest but all at once,” which made the race, “just a big grind.” 

Runner-Up Peter Wolter from Middlebury agreed with Fields that the difficult course was a balance between uphill and downhills: “It was nice because you could hammer the uphill and save your energy on the downhill.” Wolter said that his strategy was “find a good rhythm because it helps [him] pace and move through the course one section at a time.” Another content racer was UVM’s Finn O’ Connell who skied to a third-place finish, earning him his second EISA podium this season. O’ Connell commented that he was “super happy” about this win since it “confirmed the result from last weekend.” He explained that “This weekend was different from last weekend since I started later and was able to get some splits off some fast guys. I just tried to go hard and hang on.” Now armed with two strong skate results, O’ Connell’s is that much closer to reaching his goal of qualifying for NCAA’s and returning to his hometown of Steamboat in March. In the men’s team result it was Wolter’s teammates Lewis Nottonson (5th) and Sam Wood (6th) that allowed Middlebury to grab the win with 123 points above runner-up UVM with 120 points, and Colby in third with 91 points. 

Men's 15K Podium - Wolter, Fields, and O' Connell
On the women’s side UVM athletes continue to dominate their field, Alayna Sonnesyn skiing to her third individual victory in 28:39, ahead of Dartmouth skier Lydia Blanchet in 28:48, and Wildcats teammate Lina Sutro in 28:51. Despite the fast and firm conditions, Sonnesyn commented that “I think everyone would agree it was a hard day.” She explained that despite being tired from Saturday’s double polling she knew she had to keep it going. “I’ve kind of kept in the back of my head the results from last year. Getting second and third in a lot of the races last year, it’s kind of always pushing me no matter what to keep going, so that’s definitely what gets me through the races.” Sonnesyn attributed her success to consistency throughout the summer and fall, her coaches, and having new training partners that have pushed her to reach her potential.

Another returning powerhouse who performed well was runner-up Lydia Blanchet from Dartmouth. She agreed with Sonnesyn that the course was challenging with a second lap that “really hit you.” Despite the difficulty, Blanchet commented that packed snow and narrow trails provided everything she loved about carnival racing, it was “quintessential New England skiing at its best.” Blanchet will join EISA’s Henry Harmeyer at U-23 Nationals next week, hoping for some good races there and some future Dartmouth success for the remainder of the 2018 EISA season. Third place finisher Lina Sutro has proved that she is a major contender for the EISA circuit, gaining her second podium in one weekend during her first Collegiate season. Similar to her teammate Sonnesyn, she commented that this was a challenging course after Saturday’s tiring classic race, but her goal was to “leave it all on the course,” and it appears that she did just that. Margie Freed (7th) was the third Wildcat that allowed the UVM women’s team to yet again grab that top spot with 131 points over Dartmouth with 127 points. Middlebury women were third with 81 points. 

Women's 10KM Podium - Blanchet, Sonnesyn, and Sutro
Based on the overall Nordic results of men and women, without alpine due to them competing in the St. Michael’s Carnival next weekend, similar results panned out with The University of Vermont coming in first with 483 points, Dartmouth College coming in second with 437 points, and Middlebury College in third with 407 points. Keep a lookout for Alpine results next weekend to see how those scores affect the current podium.

EISA racers will return to racing Saturday, February 2nd for the first distance races of the season at the UVM Carnival in Stowe, VT with a 15KM/20KM Mass Start competition. Sunday, February 3rd the action will continue with a 5KM/10KM Individual start, classic races. Stay tuned for video recaps of races from this past weekend and hope to see you all in two weeks! 

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