(TO BE UPDATED WITH MORE PHOTOS SOON)
It’s one of the biggest weekends of skiing in New England, combining the region’s top racers with the some of the region’s top facilities: The UVM Carnival/Eastern Cup weekend at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe is a perennially-huge happening in the Nordic skiing scene. The top-notch event is known to draw a massive crowd of racers and spectators alike, and this year was no different.
In what is an old story at this point in the season, warm temperatures once again forced staff and volunteers to modify the twisting and challenging “Morton’s Maze” course in order to enable fluid racing for over 400 racers throughout the weekend. With adjustments made that incorporated a section of the upper 7.5 kilometer course, a 5 kilometer loop was created that snaked through the woods and featured several long climbs and switch-backing curves.
Saturday: 5/10k Freestyle
While temperatures in Stowe were reaching over 50 degrees only a few days prior to the event, the races on both Saturday and Sunday were held in relatively cool temps and solid snow. Saturday’s skate races in particular featured hard, icy trails and conditions well-suited to large, powerful skiers. The hard snow rewarded racers who could apply a good deal of force to the snow and balance on the fast surface.
It is no surprise anymore to see UVM’s Scott Patterson atop a freestyle podium this season. In Saturday’s 10k skate race, Patterson won his fourth EISA freestyle race in a row to give the home team an individual victory on their own turf.
Back from Europe and the U23 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, Dartmouth’s Sam Tarling finished just under 30 seconds behind Patterson for second place. Tarling, the 2011 NCAA champion in the 10k freestyle at this very venue, finished nearly 20 seconds ahead of Bates’ Jordan Buetow. The 3rd place showing on Saturday marked Buetow’s second freestyle podium of the season. The Bobcat skier placed 2nd in the SLU Carnival Prologue two weeks ago.
Two Darmouth skiers, Silas Talbot and Scott Lacy, finished in 4th and 5th, respectively, rounding out the top-5 and giving the Dartmouth men the victory in the team score.
The Women’s 5k skate race featured a slew of new faces near the top of the results sheet. No less than 6 EISA women were back in the States after representing the US at both U23 and World Junior Championship events. Annie Pokorny (Middlebury), Corey Stock (Dartmouth), Annie Hart (Dartmouth), Elizabeth Guiney (New Hampshire), Heather Mooney (Middlebury) and Emily Hannah (Harvard) were back in their collegiate uniforms this weekend, and all 6 finished within the top 10 places on Saturday. In fact, Pokorny, Stock, Hart and Guiney swept the top 4 places, in that order. UVM’s Anja Gruber, standout performer of the first two weekends of EISA racing, took 5th.
The win was Pokorny’s first at the EISA level, though her 4th place finish in the 10k freestyle race at this year’s National Championship gave clear signs of her potential dominance in this event.
For a video interview with Pokorny, visit the EISA Skiing Facebook page (linked below)
As the only school to place 3 skiers in the top 10, the Dartmouth women took top team honors on the day.
Sunday: 10k Classic
Sunday’s classic races began cold as well, but warming temperatures led to changing track conditions throughout the day. Double-set tracks that were initially deep and solid for J2 racers early in the morning began to change as the sun emerged from a haze and a large volume of racers continually skied around the loop. Some sections glazed, others wore down to ice, and others became sugary; finding a kick wax that would succeed along the entire course was not particularly easy, leading some teams to set up gear right next to the start area to allow for last-minute alterations to racing boards.
In the women’s 10k classic race, the new faces returning from abroad once again took 4 of the top 5 spots. Annie Hart (Dartmouth) took top honors, followed closely by Annie Pokorny in second. Annie and Annie were the only two women to stand on the podium in both of the weekend’s races.
Making the podium yet again in a consistently strong season so far was UVM’s Anja Gruber, who finished third. Heather Mooney (Middlebury) and Elizabeth Guiney (UNH) completed the women’s top 5, while Dartmouth set the top team score.
The men’s race was won by Dartmouth’s Sam Tarling, who improved upon his second-place finish the day prior to take his first win of the season in his first Carnival weekend this year.
With such a large field of racers due to the combined Eastern Cup races, both the men’s and women’s races featured 15-second start intervals. Last weekend’s individual 10k classic winner Ben Lustgarten (Middlebury) made the most of his starting spot one bib ahead of Tarling, as the two skied together for the majority of the race. Their styles and body-types distinctly different, Lustgarten’s small frame might not have even been noticeable behind Tarling’s imposing figure if you were watching the two approach head-on. Despite their differences in stature, however, both skiers ended up on the podium; Lustgarten’s pacing behind Tarling was good enough for 3rd place.
And sandwiched between the Dartmouth and Middlebury skiers? UVM’s Scott Patterson, who earned his first classic podium of the season. Starting one seed earlier than Tarling and Lustgarten, Patterson spent much more time alone during the course of his race. Though he was not able to pace with the two other podium members, Patterson might as well have been skiing next to them: he ended the day 10 seconds shy of Tarling and under 7 seconds ahead of Lustgarten.
For the second day in a row, two Dartmouth skiers took spots 4and 5 to lead the Big Green to a team score victory. Silas Talbot was 4th for the second consecutive-day, and Steve Mangan was 5th.
Overall, the Darmouth and UVM men took 7 spots within the top ten. Along with Lustgarten’s podium performance, Erik Lindgren of UNH and Austin Meng of St. Lawrence University were the only finishers aside from those two schools to crack the top ten.
Racing continues next weekend with the Darmouth Carnival. Due to low snow in the Hanover area, next weekend’s races will take place at the snow-making haven of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.
INTERVIEW WITH ANNIE POKORNY (Courtesy EISA Skiing)
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Adam Terko is the assistant coach of the St. Lawrence University Ski Team