Temperatures dropped but excitement only rose for Day 2 of the Colby Carnival. The first 20k Classic race of the season was a grueling eight-lap experience, the course nearly identical to yesterday. Competitors and spectators were anxious to see how the EISA would stack up head to head during the mass start race.
Waterville, ME - Start of the Women's 20k Classic Mass Start race on Day 2 of the Colby Carnival, hosted at Quarry Road Trails (photo courtesy Eli Gore).
The men's race was tightly contested, more so than it has been this season. 82 competitors in the Men's category toed the line this morning at Quarry Road, top competitors hoping to challenge John Steel Hagenbuch's winning streak. Early on Remi Drolet (HAR), Logan Moore (MID), Luke Allan (DAR), Finn Sweet (UVM), and John Steel Hagenbuch (DAR) pulled away to form a lead. They remained just out of touch to a chase pack of the next five skiers. The lead pack stayed compact and took turns in front, eventually dropping Allan who remained solidly in fifth place. The battle for the podium raged on and came down to the final stretch of field. After nearly an hour of racing, John Steel Hagenbuch squeaked out a win in 54:46, only 1.1 seconds ahead of runner-up Remi Drolet. Finn Sweet followed with a time of 54:49.7 in third, followed by Logan Moore in fourth. The chase pack could not catch Luke Allan (fifth) but stayed together for most of the race, with Zach Nemeth ultimately leading the pack into the finish for sixth place.
Remi Drolet (left) and Logan Moore (right) skiing in the lead pack during the 20k. They would finish second and fourth respectively (photo courtesy Dave Brams).
The women's race did not spread as early as the men's but a large lead pack formed around 10k. The pack included Haley Brewster (UVM), Emma Strack (SLU), Jasmine Drolet (DAR), Shea Brams (MID), Ava Thurston (DAR), Jordan Grialou (BOW), and Emma Crum (BOW). They stuck together for another 5k before Brewster floored it and gapped the rest of the group. The following pack spread a bit during the final lap. Ultimately Brewster finished a defiant 26.9 seconds ahead of the next skier, cementing her as the top Cat of the EISA pack this season. In second was Jasmine Drolet, another 10.7 seconds ahead of third place, Emma Strack. Strack was excited about her first podium this year, and second in her EISA career. She is looking forward to the rest of the season with the St. Lawrence team. When asked what inspired her during the race she said, "It was Shea, she was flying, I was like just follow her!". Fifth place Shea Brams was surprised but honored to hear this and expressed her love for mass starts, which let her race alongside her best friends (who are often also her steepest competitors). Brams was impressed with the efforts from the lead pack and "every girl out there putting it down for EISA and for the vibes."
Dartmouth skier Jasmine Drolet leads the women's front pack up a hill during a lap of the 20k at the Colby Carnival (photo courtesy Eli Gore).
Good vibes were certainly present throughout the weekend at the 2024 Colby Carnival. Music was blaring, food tables were overflowing, and crowds were getting rowdy. Although Brewster and Hagenbuch remained undefeated this weekend, they are both slated to depart for the U23 World Championships in Planica, Slovenia. Who will step up to fill the top spot in their absence? Nordic racing takes a break next weekend but will return to Craftsbury, VT for the Harvard Carnival on February 2nd and 3rd. Stay tuned!
The yearly competition for the EISA's cutest dog returned in full force this weekend. Williams skier Janne Koch's dog pack with strength in numbers (left). Another noteworthy competitor for the prize (right).