Carnival Season is back with a vengeance for 2020, and EISA athletes are getting ready to rumble after a long fall and early winter of training and racing in various regional and national events. This weekend their hard work will finally pay off as the thirteen alpine teams in the EISA send their racers to Waterville Valley for the Harvard Carnival—the first time in history that Harvard has hosted. As we head into the thick of things, here’s a snapshot of the upcoming season:
It all starts at Waterville this Friday and Saturday, when skiers will rev their engines for a wicked two-day battle in uncertain conditions. Following the Waterville Eastern Cup races this past weekend, the hill was in rough shape and not sporting much by way of snow cover. As the temperatures have begun to drop back to acceptably wintery levels, the experts at Waterville have put in a heroic snowmaking effort and successfully rebuilt the surface. With a massive 18+ inch dump on Wednesday night, there’s no longer a risk of not having much snow under-ski--in fact, there's almost too much of it. Friday morning's slalom races should put the new surface to the test.
Next up after Harvard is the University of Vermont’s carnival up in the hallowed hills of Stowe, Vermont. Then, from 1/31 to 2/1 It’s the Colby Carnival up at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, followed by the Bates Carnival at Sunday River, the Williams Carnival at Jiminy Peak, and the Middlebury Carnival at Middlebury’s own Snow Bowl. To cap it all off, NCAA championships will be hosted by Montana State all the way out at the legendary Bridger Bowl.
A number of top athletes graduated last spring, and a handful of key competitors that remain in school have opted not to race in the EISA this year (Dartmouth’s Tanguy Nef, for example, has found the injected slopes of the World Cup circuit to be more his speed). For those returning racers, it should be an exciting and highly competitive season as the league adjusts to a heavy influx of new talent across the board.
In the world of women’s giant slalom, keep your eyes peeled for Dartmouth’s Stephanie Currie and Tricia Mangan, both of whom shredded their way to the front of the pack last season. Currie finished carnival season with three podiums—a first place finish at UNH and two third place finishes at the SLU and Middlebury carnivals—and Mangan snagged an additional three second place finishes for the Big Green at the UNH, Dartmouth, and Bates races.
In women’s slalom, Currie and Mangan also performed extremely well. Both were edged out, however, by UNH’s Emma Woodhouse and her formidable 309 carnival points. Woodhouse ascended the podium at the SLU carnival, UNH carnival, and UVM carnival last winter, grabbing the second, third, and third place trophies respectively.
Over on the men’s side of town, it’s also going to be an intense season of close competition. Coming off a win as rookie of the year, Dartmouth’s Drew Duffy is the guy to beat in giant slalom (just look at his four podiums—three first place and one third—nabbed consecutively at the first four carnivals last year). Also a major GS threat are Middlebury’s Erik Arvidsson and UVM’s Patrick Mcconville. Arvidsson finished last season with two podiums—third place at UNH and first place on his home hill at Middlebury—and Mcconville arced his way into first place at the Dartmouth carnival.
In slalom, the top the field looks very similar. This time it’s Arvidsson who—in the absence of Nef—is the guy to beat, with four podiums last year. Arvidsson nabbed third at SLU, second at UNH and UVM, then first at Middlebury. Mcconville is next up with his 284 carnival slalom points that include two consecutive second place finishes at the Dartmouth and Mid carnivals, and finally Duffy who grabbed third place at the SLU slalom and third at UNH. Also keep your eyes out for Karl Kuus, skiing for PSU, who heated up last year with a third place finish at Middlebury and a sixth place finish at Bates. He ended the season sixth in overall slalom points.
Check out the Harvard Carnival this Friday on ESPN+: