They were ideal conditions for a classic race. Cold – but not too cold, blue skies, sunshine, and precision cut tracks. Luckily, these were also the type of conditions that could withstand a lot of racing traffic, as the college carnival was also combined with an Eastern Cup and the total number of participants numbered more than 450.
Designed by Morton Trails, the race venue at Trapps Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont is in the process of FIS homologation certification. The course is skiable but challenging, and all races were run on a tough 5km loop that starts on a downhill and ends on an uphill: one lap for the women and two for the men.
The women’s race was run first, as the sun was just starting to warm the air. Dartmouth’s Ida Sargent and Rosie Brennan, back from a successful trip to Germany for the U23 Championships, reasserted their place in the college carnivals by placing first and third. With a 4th place finish from teammate Katie Bono, the Dartmouth women were ensured a team victory.
Also just back from Germany, Caitlin Patterson of UVM placed second, right next to the women who were her teammates overseas and are now her competitors on the eastern circuit. Patterson led her team to a second place finish, aided by a 6th place from UVM teammate Jennie Bender.
Furthering his team’s success, UVM’s Franz Bernstein dominated the men’s race by finishing the 10 kilometer course in a time of 29:29.7, exactly 33 seconds ahead of his closest competitor.
Bernstein didn’t wake up feeling he could take on the field, but a home course and home crowd advantage can never be underestimated.
“In the morning I didn’t feel that great, I had a sore throat,” explained Bernstein, “but I felt really well into the race and right from the start I had the feeling that I could win today.”
“Until the last half of the second lap I was still in second, and on the last uphill I got into a really good striding. It was pretty close until the end, but after the last hill I felt still strong and I finished well.”
Bernstein agreed that being at home had its benefits. “We skied here so many times – it definitely helps,” said Bernstein, “and the home crowd is just awesome.”
With Bernstein’s win the UVM men took 6th, and overall – combined with alpine scores – the team is leading the scoreboard into tomorrow’s last event of nordic skate races. Bernstein is hopeful of his team’s continuing success, but not ready to make predictions.
“ [Tomorrow] is just another day here at the UVM Carnival and hopefully we can end up as well as we did today.”
Continuing their momentum from their sprint relay win at St Michael’s, the Middlebury men stole the thunder from Dartmouth today, putting six men inside the top fifteen. Dylan Grald placed third, just one second behind 2nd place Nils Koons of Dartmouth. Grald’s teammates Patrick Johnson and Doug Debold provided the final two team scores with their 6th and 7th place finishes.