Central NCAA Racing
By Corey Coogan
The St. Olaf Ski Team hosted this weekend’s NCCA qualifying race at Wolverine Trails in Ironwood, Michigan. Wolverine is located just east of the Wisconsin-Michigan border (on the Upper Peninsula) in an area known for lake effect snow. The trails roll gently, twist and turn, and have a few long, gradual climbs. Racers appreciated the course’s good rhythm and excellent grooming.
Just as was the case the weekend before, a snowstorm showed up in time for Saturday’s freestyle races. The trails were a little soft and the visibility a little poor, but after last week’s whiteout, conditions didn’t seem too tough.
This week the men went first racing ten-kilometer skate. As was the case the week before, Northern’s Chris Cook and Fairbank’s Michal Malak dueled for the top spot. This time Cook took it by 6 seconds, 27:51 to 27:57. Northern’s Jon Filardo was best of the rest, a distant third in 29:30. Fairbanks’ Erik Wickstrom was next (4th), followed by Northern’s Hjalmar Westie (5th), and then Fairbanks Juraj Brugos (6th). Northern bested Fairbanks at every place, but Fairbanks kept things tight. In the end, Northern took the team win 84-81. For the record, Fairbanks took the win last week, so clearly the men are keeping things unpredictable and exciting. Michigan Tech took third led by Karl Walczak’s 7th place.
In the women’s 5 kilometer skate, Fairbanks’ Sigrid Aas won again, making it three-for-three in Central qualifiers. Her 17:51 bested Northern’s Hilary Patzer’s 18:05. Rachel Daw, who is a top classic skier, showed she can skate as well, taking third, 15 seconds behind Patzer. In the team standings, NMU cruised to a relatively easy win. Their victory of 84-81 over Fairbanks understates their dominance, as they took places two through six, before Fairbanks Johanna Turunen (7th) broke them up. That said, Fairbanks was hampered some since they lost Erinn Whitmer to Under-23 Worlds. International competition is having quite and effect on Central at this time with Whitmer gone, and Northern’s Lindsey Weier (redshirting) and Lindsey Williams at Junior Worlds. But no worries, Whitmer will be back in time for NCAAs. Third place team honors went to tied Michigan Tech and Gustavus.
Sunday morning found teams waking up to much different conditions: clear, cold skies. The women arrived, tested wax, and prepared to race, but at 9:30 am, one hour before the planned start, the jury cancelled the race. The absolute temperature was negative 12F. Given a persistent wind predicted to increase throughout the day, there was no hope of reaching FIS guidelines. Northern and Fairbanks will have to wait until next week to face off again.
Corey Coogan recently wrote a book on collegiate skiing called One Week in March, a Peterson's-like guidebook on all the collegiate teams and clubs in the U.S. This guide book is especially helpful for high school skiers and parents who are looking at college ski programs. More info available here.
Eastern NCAA Racing
By Cory Smith
Alison Crocker wasted no time in making an impact on the Eastern College skiing circuit. Crocker, a Dartmouth College freshman racing in her first Collegiate race, won the Women's 15K Classic race at the UNH Carnival on Saturday, taking a 13 second victory over Kate Underwood of UNH. Anna McLoon of Harvard finished third.
In the men's race, UVM's Ethan Foster took the victory, just outsprinting teammate Jordi St. John to the line in the 20K Mass Start event. UNH's Matt Schadow took third. Foster also won last week's pursuit at the St Lawrence Carnival, making him two for two in college racing this winter.
There was only one cross country race this weekend as part of UNH carnival, instead of the usual two.
Crocker, who was recently named to the US World Junior Championship Team, also helped power the Big Green to their first overall Carnival win of the season. For the combined Classic, GS, & Slalom events, Dartmouth took the win despite not winning any single team event. UVM was only six points back, followed by Middlebury. UNH had the best combined score in the cross country races for the second week in a row.
Next weekend is UVM Carnival at Stowe, VT.
Western NCAA Racing
There were no western races this weekend.