Catamounts roar in Williams classic 10k
Lake Placid, New York is no stranger to hosting top-level athletic competitions, including the 1932 and 1980 Olympics. Today, the Williams Carnival joined that list, with 10k classic races at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the Olympic venue for cross-country, biathlon, and sliding sports.
Exactly 40 years after the 1980 Winter Games, the history in the air was palpable - as was the cold, with overnight temps plummeting to twenty below zero. Races were delayed two hours, allowing temperatures to rise from a frigid negative eight degrees at 8:00 to a balmy zero degrees by the first men's starter at 11:00.
Other than the cold, conditions were perfect for racing, with sunshine, blue sky, and postcard views of snow-covered high peaks around Van Hoevenberg. Van Ho's cross-country area is currently undergoing a major renovation, so races took place on the biathlon side of the venue. Skiers were treated to old-school northeastern racing with two tracks snaking over gently rolling climbs and through winding turns.
From the start, UVM was in control of the men's race. Senior Karl Schulz, wearing bib 27 and racing on his home trails, took the lead at 5k with an 11:57.9 lap. The lead would change hands two more times, but would stay firmly in Catamount paws all day. UVM's Bill Harmeyer, in bib 51, came through the lap two seconds ahead of Schulz.
Next, all eyes turned to Ben Ogden, who won the last classic 10k by over a minute (and finished a close second in last weekend's brutal 20k classic mass start.) Ogden started in bib 70 and didn't disappoint, blazing through the lap and coming into the split thirty seconds ahead of Harmeyer.
UVM's dominant performance continued on the second lap, with Ogden growing his lead to fifty seconds and Harmeyer and Schulz securing their podium positions. Ogden enjoyed the course, saying "It is not like most of the courses I race these days, more old school narrow style with short ups and steep downs. It keeps you on your feet and rewards aggressive high tempo skiing."
Middlebury's Peter Wolter decided to tackle the relatively flat course on skate skis, skipping the kick wax and double-poling his way to fourth place.
UVM's podium sweep gave the Catamounts a perfect team score of 141 points. Ogden was happy with the second sweep of the season, saying "This team and this league is super competitive and every race is hard fought, so It’s always a good feeling when the Catamounts come out with a sweep."
Laval, led by Dominique Moncion-Grouix in fifth place, made the short drive from Montreal and piled up 93 points for a third place finish. Bowdoin's Christian Gostout led the Polar Bears to another strong day with a sixth place finish and 100 team points, enough for second on the day.
Women's racing kicked off at one o'clock, an unusually late start. Women raced 10k, the same as the men. With temperatures basically static since the men's race, kickwaxing and race planning were simple - things were the same all day.
Middlebury's Charlotte Ogden started tenth and set the early marks, ripping around the rolling lap and taking the 5k lead. Her time held up until teammate Alex Lawson, hot off a win last Saturday at Black Mountain, kept the heat on and skied into the race lead. With five straight wins, the Middlebury women looked hungry to extend their gold medal streak to six.
UVM's Anya Bizyukova had other ideas though, and came through the 5k eleven seconds up on Lawson. As the final lap unfolded, Bizyukova and Lawson stayed locked in first and second, with Bizyukova taking a twelve second advantage across the finish line.
Behind them, Bowdoin's Gabrielle Vandendries skied a blazing-fast second lap to slot into third place, her first career podium. Middlebury first-year Sophia Laukli grabbed fourth place, and Colby's Erin Bianco was three seconds back in fifth.
Middlebury's trio of Lawson, Laukli, and Annika Landis (in eighth place) scored 121 points. UVM, with Bizyukova winning, Margie Freed in sixth, and Waverly Gebhardt in tenth, collected 118 points for second place. Ranae Anderson grabbed seventh for the Bowdoin Polar Bears, helping power them to 101 points and a third place finish.
Bizyukova notched a fifth and sixth place at last year's NCAA championships, but had yet to crack the EISA podium until last week, where she finished second in the mass start at Bates Carnival. Today's win continues a strong upward trend from a sickness-marred start of the season, and "Biz" will surely be a skier to watch at the upcoming championship races.
Total nordic scores from today are:
University of Vermont - 259
Middlebury - 211
Bowdoin - 201
Complete results are on available at Bullitt Timing.