The weekend was Dartmouth’s. It was not only their home carnival, but it was the school’s century celebration: the 100th Dartmouth Winter Carnival. And for a school steeped in tradition, this was not an event to take lightly. After giving up the team win last weekend to UVM at their rival’s host carnival, Dartmouth found the fire this weekend to not only post the overall nordic score for the weekend, but to win team scores in both events on both days.
It was a good day for a classic race: the temperatures warmed past 20 F, the forecasted snow held off, and partial cloud cover kept the sun from heating the solid-cut tracks that wove over Oak Hill.
The women’s mass start 15k started promptly at 10am. When the lead pack lapped through the stadium after the first grueling 10 kilometer loop there were six racers in the lead: UVM’s Caitlin Patterson and Caitlin Curran, Dartmouth’s Rosie Brennan and Annie Hart, UNH’s Clare Egan, and Bates’ Natalie Ruppertsberger. Clicking at their heels was a Dartmouth trio: Stephanie Crocker, Erika Flowers, and Isabel Caldwell.
The stadium crowd was then awarded an update at 13 kilometers: there was an uncontested, single racer out in front. Those who had been following the EISA results had a pretty good guess on who that lone skier would be: the only racer on the EISA circuit who has never lost a race this year: Caitlin Patterson.
Sure enough, it was Patterson who double poled down the final stretch while her competitors were just rounding the corner into the stadium, crossing the line over 32 seconds ahead of the chase pack.
That chase pack was a tidal wave of Green. Dartmouth’s Brennan, Hart, Crocker, and Flowers slid across the line in a 2,3,5,6 block, only broken in half by Clare Egan of UNH in 4th. Curran (UVM) and Ruppertsberger (BAT) finished close behind, in 7th and 8th.
Though Patterson earned UVM yet another individual title, the Dartmouth women’s depth not only impressed but won the day, totaling 130 points to UVM’s 117 and UNH’s 101.
The men’s race was contested over 2 laps of the 10k course: two times up the series of steep climbs to the top of Oak Hill, and down the icy S-turn series that shot the skiers back into the stadium.
It was a lucky pack of thirteen who lapped through the stadium first, dominated – in similar fashion to the women’s race – by a sea of Dartmouth snowflakes and UVM wildcats. Sam Tarling, Eric Packer, Nils Koons, David Sinclair, Scott Lacy, and Steven Mangan drove through for the home town crowd, their pack woven with UVM’s Alex Howe, Franz Bernstein, Scott Patterson and Fritz Horst, along with Middlebury’s Chase Marston and Williams’ Dimitri Luthi and Keith Kantack.
A lot can happen with half a race to go, but the three skiers who re-entered the stadium first in a sprint to the finish line were no surprise. The trio contesting the top of the podium, toe plate to toe plate down the final 300 meters, were Sam Tarling and Eric Packer of Dartmouth and Franz Bernstein of UVM.
Fueled by tradition and a home town crowd, it was Tarling and Packer who fought out the last 15 meters before – quite literally – laying it on the line with a photo finish lunge.
It took a minute for the official announcement that Sam Tarling had edge his teammate for the victory – making it a mirror 1-2 finish to Friday’s skate race – but if Packer was disappointed with another second place it didn’t show, as it took him only several smiling moments to change into knicker suit and cap in preparation for the post-race celebration.
This being the traditional “Carnie-Crush” weekend on the EISA circuit, the post-race celebrations included a costumed flurry of poetry proposals, musical serenades, and awarding of valentines.
There was much for Packer and his team to celebrate, as they picked up eight of the weekend’s twelve places on the podium. The Dartmouth men won the classic race by 20 points over UVM.
The top nordic scores for the weekend’s combined races were:
1. Dartmouth: 528
2. University of Vermont: 476
3. Middlebury: 318