With bright sunshine and temps in the teens, no one could complain about the weather for the St. Michael’s EISA Carnival weekend at Sleepy Hollow.
It was an open Carnival which meant participation numbers were high, and each event saw over 90 racers. Only Friday’s distance event was a scoring race for NCAA points, while Saturday’s sprint relay was purely for fun, speed and – as one racer hoped – “world domination”.
Saturday’s course for the 10 and 15 kilometer skate races was a series of loops around the stadium: a tough mix of long, unrelenting climbs, followed by very fast and icy downhill luge runs.
The women were up first, and Dartmouth showed that even without some of their top racers they were a dominant force. With teammates Ida Sargent and Rosie Brennan absent, Erika Flowers stepped up for the team to take the first place spot, winning by 23 seconds.
Flowers said she hadn’t felt great that morning, but once she got into the race she found the winning stride after receiving feedback from her coaches. “I got splits off teammates and that was really encouraging, just to see they were having good races. That motivated me to try and get back in it, especially in the second half.”
Lucy Garrec from Colby finished second, preventing the Big Green from owning the podium, as Katie Bono and Stephanie Crocker from Dartmouth took 3rd and 4th. Anya Bean from UNH, who had a stand-out race last weekend, showed that result was no fluke by finishing in 5th place. With teammate Natasha Kulles right behind her in 6th place, UNH was the team that challenged Dartmouth’s high score of the event.
In the men’s 15km race Dylan McGuffin of UNH wore the yellow jersey, but it was Dartmouth’s Nils Koons who had the fastest collegiate race of the day. Just four seconds back was UVM’s Alex Howe in second place and McGuffin finished third, 15 seconds behind Koons. It was UVM who nearly upset Dartmouth’s win in the mens race, as Franz Bernstein of UVM joined Howe at the top of the points list by placing 4th.
The overall winner of the men’s race was Tim Reynolds, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, who bested the field by 11 seconds.
When asked if he still held onto the yellow jersey, McGuffin said he thought he and Koons were tied in points after the weekend, but if there was no present protocol for determining a tied score, he was ready to issue a challenge to Koons in a simple statement: “Dance-off.”
Saturday’s sprint relay consisted of 3 person teams, each racing 3 x 1km. Considering the short, narrow course and 30+ teams on the start line, the race saw relatively little carnage, as the top teams in both races got to the front fast and the steep herringbone hill at the beginning of the course spread the field out considerably. The men’s race saw a surprise battle between Middlebury and Dartmouth.
As Graham Egan from Middlebury explains, though his team thought there would be others in the top of the mix, “Dartmouth was obviously the team to beat.”
Egan said that his team had a simple strategy, to get a good start and then stay in the mix.
He then ensured they did just that by hanging onto Dartmouth’s scramble leg, Pat O’Brien, who Egan says, “threw down a monster of a first lap.”
Egan and O’Brien took off on the first hill and never looked back, separating their two teams from the rest of the pack for the remainder of the race. Middlebury’s second and third legs, Chase Marston and Doug Debold, kept extending the lead on Dartmouth’s Gordon Vermeer and Nils Koons, so that Middlebury crossed the line with a nice 12 second cushion. In third was a strong finish by Saint Lawrence University’s Zachary Wetherell, Benjamin Knowles, and Eric Wolcott.
The Dartmouth women evened out the score in the following sprint relay by beating Middlebury’s women in a 1-2 finish. Stephanie Crocker, Katie Bono and Erika Flowers, who had all finished in the top 4 the day before, set out to be a formidable team. With a fall in the first lap, they recovered the lead in the second lap and never let up, taking the win by nearly 30 seconds. Lauren Fritz, Keely Levins, and Corinne Prevot of Middlebury put together an impressive relay to add to the team’s winning day of races. Finishing third was the University of Vermont’s team of Caitlin Curran, Jane McClelland, and Jennie Bender.
“It was a really awesome day,” said Egan of the Middlebury team’s spirits,” we’re really psyched about it.”
The Dartmouth women were also psyched about their winning weekend, despite missing teammates who are competing at the U23 Games in Germany. Flowers said they get emails from Germany wishing the team luck and cheering them on and that these sentiments really fire up the team to continue their success.
“We just kind of feed off each other and really push each other,”said Flowers, “and I think that really helps too, because we’re racing for each other and also racing for them.”
Combined with alpine scores, it was Dartmouth who led the weekend, UVM in second and UNH in third.
Next week will be a break in the EISA schedule, letting racers get some training and rest before the upcoming races at Stowe – and perhaps giving Nils Koons a little time to work on those dance moves.