It was a weekend filled with emotion and grief for all at this year’s combined UVM Carnival/Eastern Cup in Stowe, Vermont. The passing of Dartmouth skier Torin Tucker during the Craftsbury Marathon on Saturday gave way to a somber air throughout the venue at the Trapp Family Lodge. Torin’s passing affected those involved at all levels of the event, with many taking time to show their support and respect.
In the midst of such sadness, EISA racing continued to move forward. Saturday featured a classic sprint event, while Sunday brought 5 and 10-kilometer freestyle races. Held on the race courses to be used this spring during the 2014 Junior National Championships, this weekend would be a test-run for many potential competitors seeking titles in March.
Saturday: 1.3k Classic Sprint
Saturday morning’s classic sprint qualifying results would serve to determine collegiate placing for EISA purposes, while the top-30 overall (including guest skiers and Eastern Cup competitors) would be used to determine final Eastern Cup placing. The day began cold, but as the sun crested over the Green Mountain’s Worcester range and began to penetrate the venue temperatures rose quickly and a sunny, warm day enveloped Stowe. While a few competitors opted to double-pole the qualification round, the steep hill leading to the finishing stretch took the skate ski option out of the equation for the afternoon heats.
In the collegiate ranks it was UVM’s Jorgen Grav who took the victory, adding another impressive finish to his collection of top results. Following Grav was Colby College racer John Dixon. A relative local to the area hailing from Shelburne, Vermont and Champlain Valley Union High School, the senior from Colby picked up his first career podium in his premiere event. Laval skier Frederic Touchette rounded out the podium.
In an impressive display of sprinting prowess, the Bates men claimed the team victory in the event on the strength of three top-ten finishes: Jordan Buetow, Alex Hamilton and Nick Michaud gave the Bobcats their first team victory in EISA competition.
The overall qualification round was won by Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy), who finished a whopping 5 seconds ahead of Eric Packer (SMS T2). In the afternoon heats, however, Patrick O’Brien (Craftsbury) was able take the victory ahead of Blackhorse-Von Jess thanks to impressive striding speed and a quick finish. Grav was the top collegiate competitor in the heats, ending up 6th.
UVM was on top of the podium in the women’s race as well, with Linda Danvind-Malm winning the collegiate race ahead of Dartmouth’s Annie Hart, who is still gunning for a victory this season after a continued string of second-place finishes.
Middlebury’s Stella Holt climbed the final step of the podium in third, just ahead of teammate and sprint powerhouse Heather Mooney. Kelsey Phinney’s 9th place helped the Panther women to a team victory in the event.
Also notable was The University of New Hampshire, who showed the strength of a young women’s team by placing two freshmen in the top ten. Elizabeth Gill took 7th place, while another new face on the circuit, Katrin Larusson, finished in 10th.
Returning from strong results at US Nationals and, prior to that, a stint on the World Cup, APU skier Rosie Brennan won the women’s overall qualification, but it was Craftsbury skier Caitlin Patterson who won the afternoon heats. With Patterson and O’Brien’s wins, the Craftsbury Green Racing Project swept the open races, while Grav and Danvind-Malm gave another set of green suits a sweep for UVM in the collegiate race.
Sunday: 5/10K Freestyle
More warmth overnight led to greasy, slippery snow during Sunday’s individual-start freestyle races. The fast conditions, combined with a technical course, made for exciting speed during the races. With the 5-kilometer competition loop ending in a brutal climb from the 3.5 mark to the finish line, a lot could be decided in the final minutes of the race.
As it was, that is exactly what happened during the men’s race. With several skiers nearly tied for the lead after one lap, UVM’s Jorgen Grav put in a big surge on his second trip around the course. Collapsing completely at the line, Grav’s efforts to push himself to exhaustion on the final climbs paid off: the Catamount put over 15 seconds in the field in the second half of the race, earning him another win on the weekend.
Achieving second place, and his career-best finish, was another native of Norway: New Hampshire’s Eirik Fosnaes. Fosnaes’ breakthrough race helped the Wildcats to a team victory in the event, as teammates Johnny Springer (8th) and Per Lindgren (10th) were all within the top ten.
Following Fosnaes was Rogan Brown, another Catamount who has thus far achieved a strong and consistent season. One could expect Grav, Brown and U23 World Championships competitor Scott Patterson to make a formidable freestyle threat in the NCAA skate race in Utah this spring.
Always a team to display great depth, the Williams College men took second place in the team score, while the absence of Patterson put UVM in third.
All that was needed for a weekend-wide sweep by the Catamounts was a victory by Linda Danvind-Malm on Sunday, and with an 8.7 second victory ahead of teammate Anja Gruber, Danvind-Malm was able to deliver. The two UVM women echoed the depth of the men’s team, and were nearly 30 seconds ahead of third place.
It was certainly an exciting final podium finish: Fresh off a strong showing in Saturday’s classic sprint, UNH’s Katrin Larusson charged to the first podium of her young career in 3rd place.
In general it was a great day for new faces on the women’s side, with Williams freshman Hannah Cole nabbing 6th place, and young Colby skiers Amy Bianco (9th) and Olivia Amber (10th) all racing to top ten placings.
Results for both EISA racing (“Collegiate Results”) and the overall Eastern Cup (“Complete Results”) can be found at Bart Timing.