Cold, clear skies and squeaky snow welcomed the EISA to Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine. Although this trail system houses many wonderful kilometers, coverage on these outer tracks was thin due to a lack of early-season snow. Skiers powered through three laps of a 2.5k loop, amounting to the first 7.5k Freestyle race of the season. Off the gun, the course shot the racers into a climb that snaked up, twisting around the hill and back down in a similar fashion. After journeying up Hero's Hill, the last large ascent, skiers were sent blazing back into the field for a large, relatively flat out and back. "It's like basically two different courses put together," said illustrious UVM Catamount (and last week's Skier of the Week) Haley Brewster. This course is different from others in the circuit but provides ample terrain for skiers who excel on hills and those who prefer flat or gradual terrain.
Left: Isak Nightingale prepping in the chilly weather to start for the Colby Mules at his home Carnival. Right: Evie Walton from Dartmouth powers over a steep hill on the course (photo courtesy Eli Gore).
The aforementioned Brewster once again topped the food chain, winning today by a whopping 35 seconds. The Cat has remained undefeated thus far in 2024. Coming in second place was UNH skier Jasmine Lyons. Although the course was hard, she thought the race "was really good, and the downhills were fun and not as sketch as I thought they were going to be." Based on her last name one might think she assumed the energy of a large cat, but Lyons asserted she raced like "a bulldog" out there. While a Wildcat at heart, her team can rest assured knowing she's got that dog in her. Local legend Ava Thurston returned for a third-place finish today. Although she tore up the course like a beast, what animal likeness did she resemble during the race? "I think that's an easy one," she said confidently, "I skied like a rat out there". Thurston is excited to have the whole Dartmouth pack out there with her tomorrow, scrappy and foraging for a win. From the bottom of gutters to the tops of hills, the circuit should "watch out for Big Green" this weekend. Jasmine Drolet and Emma Strack rounded out the top five. UVM won the day for women's nordic, followed by Dartmouth and UNH.
In a similar fashion to last week, Dartmouth skier John Steel Hagenbuch placed first in today's race with a time of 16:19. 27 seconds behind him was UVM Catamount Finn Sweet. Sweet shared a sentiment similar to Lyons, "it was good, I think the downhills were really nice, usually this course is super icy and so it was very pleasant to have very packed snow and just be able to rip the downhills" without fear of falling over. The UVM men's team, who were a powerhouse last year, have "had a bit of a slow start" this season. Sweet wants to tell the EISA circuit that they are all "fit and capable" and "having a good result was a good reminder that everybody" on the team has it in them to perform well this season. In third place was Harvard skier Remi Drolet, proving yet again that he is a constant threat for the podium. Dartmouth leads the men's scores going into Day 2. The Williams team stepped up today to place second for men's nordic, lead by Keelan Durham in sixth and Henry Johnstone in 10th. UNH achieved a third place team finish today.
The first day of the Colby Carnival is enough incentive for celebration, but for one racer it was extra special. Phoebe Hussey, a first-year skier for the St. Michaels Purple Knights, turned twenty today. The birthday skier said it was "fun to get to race on cold snow again and on not icy corners". This is a sentiment shared by many, including her father Mike Hussey, who remarked, "What a great day it is today, lovely! Quarry Road knocked it out of the park. Well done." High praise from Mike, who is the Ski Areas General Manager at Middlebury College, where the EISA Championships will be held later this winter.
Hattie Barker from UNH during the 7.5k Freestyle race today (photo courtesy Eli Gore).
Exciting things to come tomorrow and during the rest of this season! Continue to follow along with this blog, Bullitt Timing, and on Instagram @eisaskiing.