Light snowfall and intermittent gusts of winds combined with cold temperatures to make for less-than friendly spectating, but that did not stop the crowds from clustering at trail junctions to cheer on the more than 400 racers that participated in the second day of racing for the combined UVM college carnival and Eastern Cup weekend at Trapps Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.
Both men’s and women’s races were run with two rounds of the same 5km loop, a course whose long steady climbs and rolling downhills were well-designed by Morton Trail Systems to test the mettle of any well-trained athlete.
The women’s 10km skate race was the first event, and the podium – though in slightly different order – held the same three women as the day before. It was Caitlin Patterson of UVM who stepped up for the performance of the race. Having the luck to start right behind Dartmouth’s Ida Sargent, whom she had taken second place to in the classic race, Patterson had a target in sight off the start. Patterson caught Sargent in the first lap and the two skied together for most of the race. Rosie Brennan (DAR), skiing alone, stepped up one place from the day before to finish in second, 15 seconds behind Patterson. Sargent ended up 24 seconds back.
Patterson returned home last Monday from the U23 Championships in Germany and said she is still “reacclimating to the time zone and school” after a heavy travel and racing schedule. She said she has tried to “take every day as it comes”, and that after starting slow and feeling a bit sluggish in yesterday’s classic, she tried a different approach to the skate race.
“I think my warm-up was really well-organized and good today, so that really helped me feel well during the race,” said Patterson. It also allowed her to start at a quicker pace and quickly eliminate the 15 second deficit she had on Sargent.
“I started out strong,” said Patterson, “ I caught up to Ida in front of me and that was really fun to ski with her and see right where I was relative to some of my fast competitors.”
If not for Patterson, the Dartmouth women would have completely claimed the day. After Sargent and Brennan, 4th-6th places were taken by teammates Sophie Caldwell, Erika Flowers, and Katie Bono. With Patterson’s win and her teammate Jennie Bender in 9th, UVM finished behind Dartmouth for the top women’s team scores.
The men also raced 10 kilometers, and UVM’s Franz Bernstein again had a great day on his home course by making it back onto the podium with his 2nd place finish. It was Patrick Johnson of Middlebury who had the winning time of 26:46, ten seconds up on Bernstein. Johnson led his teammates Graham Egan (7th) and Dylan Grald (16th) to take the top men’s team score of the day.
Dylan McGuffin from UNH continued his strong season by jumping back onto the podium in third, 21.5 seconds back.
Johnson said that pacing and skiing relaxed helped him toward his top result today.
“I took it out pretty conservatively, skied it smoothly. It’s a nice course just to ski efficiently and glide a lot and I just took it easy on the first lap and then put the hammer down on the second lap.”
When asked why his team was so much stronger now, Johnson said it was more a matter of sickness and bad luck during the first couple races of this year that the team was not where they are now.
“We’ve been training really hard this season,”said Johnson,”so I think we knew that what we did this weekend was possible for the whole season.”