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The second weekend of EISA competition brought fans, family, athletes and coaches alike to the idyllic Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT this past weekend for the UVM Carnival. Conditions in the mountain village were superb, with good snow covering nearly every inch of the trail system and great temperatures for both racing and spectating.
The 5-kilometer race loop for the weekend, known affectionately as “Morty’s Maze” in honor of renowned trail designer and all-around ski legend John Morton, is a favorite of many on the circuit. Smooth, steady ascents and twisting, entertaining downhill sections combine to make a fast, fun and challenging course for both disciplines.
On Friday racers took on 5 and 10-kilometer freestyle events, with 10 and 15-kilometer mass start classic events on Saturday.
Friday: 5/10k Freestyle
A cold week preceding this event meant fast, hard-packed conditions on race morning. Though a dusting of snow began early in the day and continued through some of the racing, warming temperatures lead to a slight glaze and a slippery gliding surface. As is common on this course, times would prove to be tight during the short freestyle events.
Except for the men’s winner.
Less than a week removed from his dominant opening EISA freestyle event, the 10-kilometer test at the Bates Carnival, Dartmouth’s Paddy Caldwell surged to a staggering 1:08 lead over second place finisher Rogan Brown of host UVM. After sitting out the events of the previous weekend, the podium finish represented Brown’s first showing in the league this season.
Laval’s Frederic Touchette claimed the third step on the podium, denying Harvard’s Akeo Mayfeld-Carucci his second consecutive podium by a mere two-tenths of a second. The tight times continued down the results list, as third through eighth place were separated by less than 9 seconds.
The Dartmouth men were able to just edge UVM in the team title by three points. Caldwell’s victory was bolstered by Big Green skiers Fabian Stocek and Silas Talbot finishing seventh and 11th, respectively.
The women’s 5-kilometer freestyle event was nearly over in less than 14 minutes for winner Annika Taylor of UNH. After finishing second in both events the previous weekend to Middlebury skier Heather Mooney, Taylor came out swinging in Friday’s race and bested runner-up Mary-kate Cirelli of UVM by over 14 seconds. Mooney rounded out the podium in third, 10.8 seconds behind Cirelli.
The women of UVM were able to avenge the narrow loss by the Catamount men earlier in the morning by earning the top team score for the 5k race. Alayna Sonnesyn (5th) and Stephanie Kirk (7th) completed the scoring for UVM. Taylor’s victory led a strong showing by the UNH women, who took second thanks to three Wildcats in the top 11: Katrin Larussin finished eighth and Tristan Ramey finished 11th.
Saturday: 10/15-kilometer Classic
After a cold start to the racing season for most of the country, warm temperatures for the races on Saturday seemed to bring out an especially festive mood among everyone in attendance in sunny Stowe. For a venue notorious for brutal wind, the calm air certainly helped as well.
Warming and glazing tracks proved to be the waxing concern for the day, as temperatures rose steadily toward the freezing mark and the sun poked in and out of the clouds. With a long uphill into the finish, it was crucial to be able to push and stride hard for home at the end of a grueling mass start race.
The men raced first on the day, and for the first of three laps the pack stayed relatively close together. By the second lap it was mostly a handful of green suits pulling away from the field: racers from Dartmouth and UVM began to string out the field, along with several other representatives, most notably a strong presence near the front from the men of Williams College.
By the final lap Dartmouth’s Paddy Caldwell was charging away from his teammate Silas Talbot. Caldwell sealed the weekend sweep with a nearly 12-second cushion to Talbot, while UVM skier Tobias Trenkle outsprinted fellow Catamount Jack Hegman to earn his first collegiate podium.
The one-two punch of Caldwell and Talbot was aided by Big Green sophomore Fabian Stocek in fifth place to give the Dartmouth men another victory over UVM in the team score, with Williams rounding out the podium in third.
Another one-two was in store for the women’s race, although in this case it meant a repeat of the first and second-place finishers from the previous day. Like Caldwell earlier that day, UNH skier Annika Taylor broke away from her competitors to seal a sweep of the weekend events.
Skiing with smooth and relaxed form, Taylor excelled on gradual striding sections and bit-by-bit she increased her lead over the course of the second half of the race to cruise in for the win nearly 30 seconds clear of UVM racer Mary-kate Cirelli in second.
Corey Stock of Dartmouth picked up her second podium of the season, repeating her third-place finish from the classic mass start race at the Bates Carnival.
The team score for the women was quite close, with UVM edging UNH by a scant two points, and Middlebury another three points behind.
EISA racing continues next weekend with the St. Michael’s College Carnival. Events will again take place in the Green Mountain State, this time at the Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center in Huntington, VT.
Results (follow links to “Collegiate Results”)
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Adam Terko is the assistant coach of the St. Lawrence University Ski Team