Friday, February 2, 2018

Sonnesyn and Fields Reign Supreme at Day 1 of the UVM Carnival

Although lacking snow conditions prompted a change in venue, the first day of the UVM Carnival launched off to a roaring start with a 15KM/20KM mass start, skate races, at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, VT. The 5KM loop which women would complete three times and men four times was chalk full of tough uphills and technical downhills.

Cold Temperatures, excellent grooming, and sunshine allowed for pristine racing conditions for EISA competitors throughout the day. Women kicked off first at 10:00 AM and Men followed at 12:00 PM. Team-wise Dartmouth ruled supreme winning both the men’s and women’s races, but the biggest victory of the day was watching UVM’s Alayna Sonnesyn absolutely sweep the field in her last home skate competition.

The Catamount senior didn’t merely win the race, she finished in 45:26, more than a minute ahead of runner-up Katharine Odgen (DAR) in 46:29. Although it was a “bittersweet experience” being her last skate race, she shared that “it’s always been a dream of mine to win a UVM Carnival race and especially a mass start.” Sonnesyn had the opportunity to represent the United States at the 2018 Junior World Championships in Switzerland this week, but her desire to represent UVM one more time at her home carnival, propelled her to choose the latter.  “It feels amazing to win at my last home carnival. There's no place I'd rather be right now, I’m so happy and proud to be here as a UVM Catamount.” Although she had wished to have skied at the Trapps Family Lodge this weekend, she commented that “I love Craftsbury as well and really like when there are some challenging hills in the mix.” This is Sonnesyn’s fourth consecutive win, raising the question could she possibly top the podium in every race this season? We will all have to wait and see.

Dartmouth women’s leading scorer and runner-up, Katharine Ogden, also praised the conditions, commenting that “it’s so nice to ski on beautiful snow like that.” After coming back from being sick, her main goal for today’s race was to “ski smooth and relaxed,” so being able to do this, while working with UVM racers, Alayna Sonnesyn and Lina Sutro made it a “great race.” Lina Sutro (UVM) rounded out the podium in 47:00, commenting that despite the course being challenging it offered “great skiing.” Dartmouth’s Taryn Hunt-Smith (4th) and Abigail Drach (5th) helped Ogden grab first in the women’s team score with 127 points, followed by UVM with 125 points, and Middlebury with 97 points.

In the men’s race, Colby’s Zane Fields continues his winning streak in every skate race this season, notching first in the 20K competition in 53:18, followed by runner-up Adam Luban (MID) in 53:27 and Luke Brown (DAR) in 53:37. Although Fields was victorious, yesterday he woke up sick making him decide at the very last minute if he wanted to race. After he decided to go for it, his strategy became, “to ski in the lead group but ski a relatively conservative race.” When asked about his vast success in the skating field he commented:  “Having won three races in a row has been a pretty surreal experience. I never thought I’d be here but I’ve got the best teammates and coaches to push me and keep me grounded. I’m hoping to keep the momentum going for the rest of the season and carry it into the 20K, in Steamboat later on in March.” Three skate races left and Fields will complete his goal of winning every skate races in the 2018 EISA season. Just like Sonnesyn, we will all just have to wait and see.

Runner-up Adam Luban, a senior from Middlebury, pulled out a breakout performance which allowed him to notch his first EISA podium in his collegiate career. Luban remarked that it felt “great” to get his first podium” and how he had been “really looking forward to a long skate race,” because big climbs play to his strengths. He shared that, “Getting such a great result today is a testament to all the hard work not only from myself but from my team and coaches over the summer and fall. I know we can continue improving and fill the top 10 with Midd Boys.” Luban was followed by Dartmouth Skier Luke Brown who commented that the hardest part of the course for him was “trying to go fast” on the technical turns because he still fears his recent run-in with a tree at Nationals earlier this year. This is Brown’s third podium this season, proving that he is a consistent force to be reckoned with in the men’s field. Dartmouth Teammates Callan DeLine (4th) and Gavin McEwan (5th) worked with Brown to place first in the men’s team competition with 124 points. Middlebury came in second with 100 points followed by UVM in third with 93 points. Racing action will continue tomorrow at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center with, individual start, 5KM/10KM classic races.