The fourth weekend of EISA races were slated to be hosted by Williams College as part of their 97th Winter Carnival. But in the continuation of dismal snow conditions on the East coast, Williams had to relocate their home carnival to the Craftsbury Nordic Center in Vermont.
The winners of both men’s and women’s races had no complaints, however. Women’s winner Annie Hart of Dartmouth described the 5k race course at Craftsbury as being “a really well made course and definitely different from the other courses this season. The first part was pretty much gradual up, followed by a monster downhill and then just a series of climbs with a big kicker at the end.”
Men’s winner, UVM’s Franz Bernstein added, “I love it. It’s really good classic skiing – so many transitions up and down and narrow turns and that’s exactly what I’m looking for in a classic race.”
The one-day event , involving individual start classic 10k races for both genders, saw warm temperatures, cloudy skies, and straight up klister kick on ice-glazed tracks.
Dartmouth College stole the top team scores in both men’s and women’s nordic races, helping them win the overall team score for the weekend, 29 points ahead of UVM and another 50 points ahead of Middlebury.
Garnering her best results in the classic technique, Hart had already compiled third, fourth, and fifth place finishes in the EISA classic races this season. When asked if she contributed her recent win to any one factor Hart replied via email that some of the strong results she posted in the early season gave her the confidence to think she “definitely had a chance at winning” an EISA race. “But”, wrote Hart, “the other girls on the circuit who have been regulars at the top are also all amazing classic skiers, so I think really any one of us could have won.”
Hart then pointed to the fact that a different woman had won each EISA classic race this season, the three prior winners being her teammate Sophie Caldwell and UVM’s Caitlin Patterson and Lucy Garrec.
Hart was modest in the assessment of her win, writing “I did feel pretty good, and I just went out with the intention of going as fast as I could and it happened to swing in my favor.”
Thirteen seconds behind her teammate, Caldwell was the second finisher in the women’s race. Third and fourth was the UVM duo of Garrec and Patterson, respectively, while Erika Flowers added the third Dartmouth score in fifth place. Beth Taylor of Bates placed sixth, ahead of two additional UVM skiers, Anja Gruber and Jane McClelland. Caroline Carpenter (SLU) and Alena Tofte (HAR) rounded out the top ten.
Bernstein, a 2010 NCAA winner at the skate technique, started off this season by grabbing five podiums in six races without realizing a win. Last weekend he had to sit out the Dartmouth Carnival races due to illness, but instead of a set-back, Bernstein thinks the time off may have been the boost he needed to finish his senior season of races in strong physical and mental form.
“I had to rest up and it gave me a little time to ease into it again and get really motivated for this race and for the last three races of my college career.”
Bernstein said this race performance makes him hopeful that he is peaking “at the right part of the season.”
“It always takes me a little bit to get started into the season, and I had a great start this year and now I feel I am getting better and better and we’ll see how it turns out in the end.”
Bernstein finished in a time of 26:29.8, thirteen seconds ahead of second place finisher Dartmouth’s Gordon Vermeer and another eleven seconds up on third place finisher Dimitri Luthi of Williams. It was the first podium finish of the season for both Vermeer and Luthi, who are now ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, on the EISA ranking list.
Dartmouth’s Sam Tarling finished in fourth, ahead of fifth and sixth place finishes from Middlebury’s Ben Lustgarten and Patrick Johnson. For Johnson, this was the first classic race and only the second of eight races this season he has finished outside the podium.
Rounding out the top ten in the men’s race were Mathieu Fortin (7th,Lavall), Fritz Horst (8th,UVM, Alex Schulz (9th,DAR) and Silas Talbot (10th, DAR).
Next weekend the Regional Championships, hosted by Middlebury College, will be held at Trapps Family Lodge in Stowe, VT.