Back to back wins for Ogden and Laukli at Colby Carnival
I'm not sure what's usually mined at Quarry Road, but UVM Catamount Ben Ogden and Middlebury Panther Sophia Laukli struck gold at Colby's home nordic venue this weekend. Both grabbed their second wins of the weekend in convincing style, putting their stamp on the 2020 Colby Carnival and the rest of the field on notice for the second half of the EISA season.
After yesterday's action racers would be plenty familiar with the course, and if not, they'd know it well after four to six times around the loop today. The ribbon of manmade snow rolls gradually down out of the start before a sustained climb and swooping S-turn descent into the lap lane.
The races, originally planned as 10/15k mass starts, were switched to interval starts due to the shortened loop. The 2.7k loop made the races slightly longer than planned, with women doing four laps for 10.8k total, and men doing six laps for 16.2k total.
Racing got underway at 9:30 with the first male starter, Bowdoin junior Eliot Ketchel. Ketchel, racing in a home-ish carnival just 48 minutes away from the Polar Bears' campus, came out firing and posted intermediate split times that held up for a good chunk of the morning.
36 starters later, UVM's Ian Moore wrestled the 2.7k lead away from Ketchel with an opening lap of 7:13. Moore's mark was later eclipsed by a pair of top-seeded starters, Middlebury's Peter Wolter and fellow Catamount Ben Ogden. Ogden clocked a 6:51 opening lap, gapping Wolter by 13 seconds.
Ogden kept gaining chunks of time at each split and grew his lead throughout the morning. By the finish, Ogden had taken a massive 1:31 advantage over the field, grabbing one of the most dominant EISA men's wins in recent memory.
Wolter was the best of the rest and finished second, eighteen seconds up on Ketchel. UVM's Bill Harmeyer, Karl Schulz, and Ian Moore slotted into fourth, fifth, and sixth, giving the Catamount men another team win. While not quite as dominant as yesterday's podium sweep, UVM still racked up an impressive 130 points, taking the team win over Middlebury (107) and Bowdoin (106.)
After wax testing, men's inspection, six laps of racing, and women's inspection, the course was beginning to show some wear. Temps dancing around freezing turned the top layer of snow into unconsolidated sugar, and by the time women's action began at 11:45, the tracks had begun to disappear on many of the tougher uphills. Perfect skiing this was not - equal doses of grit and technique would be needed to master the 10.8k.
Another Polar Bear set the early marks in the women's race, with bib 10 Gabrielle Vandendries going through the 2.7k in 8:23. Vandedndries continued to lead every split until Dartmouth's Katharine Ogden, in bib 19, tore through the course, lapping through the first 2.7k in 8:11.
Ogden, the most decorated skier in the field, had surprisingly early start times this weekend. This may have been a deliberate choice by her or her coaches - some skiers prefer starting around lower-ranked competition, while others prefer a spot with faster racers at the end of the start order.
Middlebury first-year Sophia Laukli, hot off yesterday's second straight carnival win, came out eager to prove she could do more than just skate ski. Any concerns about her ability to stride and glide were alleviated by the 2.5k mark, where she had bested Ogden's time by a whopping 18 seconds. As the race continued, Laukli pressed her advantage, taking the gap out to 38 seconds by the time she crossed the line and grabbed her third win in a row.
Ogden held onto second place, while Middlebury's Alex Lawson took third. Gabrielle Vandendries continued a strong day for the Polar Bears with a fourth place finish, and UVM's Margie Freed rounded out the top five.
Much of the Middlebury women's team was sidelined due to illness, but the Panthers had a remarkably efficient day, placing all three starters in the top seven - Charlotte Ogden notched the top result of her young career with a seventh place. The trio of Panthers stockpiled 129 points, which has to be one of the best ratios of points scored to pairs of skis klistered ever. UVM and Dartmouth tied for second with 106 points each, while Bowdoin came in fourth with 94 points.
Nordic scores for the weekend are:
University of Vermont Catamounts 493
Middlebury Panthers 438
Bowdoin Polar Bears 375
Full results for all races this weekend are available here: