Snow glistened underneath cloudless skies on the second day of the Dartmouth Carnival. Eighty-three skiers in the Men's category prepared for a 16.5k Classic Mass Start. Icy conditions prompted a thirty-minute delay. Once the gun went off, however, skiers took no delay in getting after it. A brand new course was used at Oak Hill, a 3.3k loop outfitted with snowmaking. Like ski racing, this course came with highs and lows. It started with the sprint course from Day 1 and then added on a large snaking uphill and rolling descent. With very few places to rest, it tested the racers' fitness.
Members of the Dartmouth Big Green working hard and having fun during the second day of their home Carnival (photo courtesy flyingpointroad.com).
No dramatic moves were made early on. During the second lap, a lead pack began to form including Jack Christner (MID), Henrik Wist (SMC), Finn Sweet (UVM), Cam Wolfe (DAR), and Asa Chalmers (DAR). They were chased by Andy Defor (CBC), Cooper Camp (DAR), and Roger Anderson (UNH). Yesterday speed was the name of the game, but today endurance was essential. During the final lap, Wist made his move at the base of the second long ascent. He extended a precarious lead of a few seconds to a comfortable seventeen as he strode into the finishing stretch. Christner was in hot pursuit and powered up the last hill to claim second place, the first podium finish in his EISA career. Inspired by a thriving Big Green forest (adoring Dartmouth fans), Wolfe put the hammer down to move through the pack and secure third place (also a career first podium finish). This is the second carnival weekend that several top-ranked skiers are missing, competing in the Canmore, Alberta World Cup and
World Junior/U23 Championships in Planica, Slovenia. With these skiers missing, space opened for others to step up. Henrik Wist's win for the Purple Knights was the first for St. Michaels in almost thirty years. Exciting to see new faces on top! Dartmouth stepped up today to win the men's team score. They were led by Cam Wolfe (3rd), Cooper Camp (4th), and Dustin Hay (6th). Middlebury was second and UVM was third.
St. Michaels first-year Henrik Wist moments after his historic win for the Purple Knights (photo courtesy flyingpointroad.com).
The frozen early morning tracks quickly deteriorated in the warm sun. Temperatures reached 50 degrees F (10 C) by the start of the women's race. Unlike the men, the eighty-four women started to spread out almost immediately. A large lead pack of about twenty skiers started to break off during the second lap. Shea Brams (MID), the 20k Classic Champion from last week, pulled away similarly this week. By ten kilometers she had a twenty-second lead over the chase group containing Hattie Barker (UNH), Marielle Ackermann (UVM), Annie McColgan (UVM), Libby Tuttle (UVM), Morgan Richter (BOW), Tatum Witter (DAR), and Lea Stabaek Wenaas (UNH). Brams added another twenty-eight seconds to her lead during the fourth lap. Behind her Barker was solidifying a lead of her own over third place. As they dipped into the woods one last time, the race for bronze was the most contested. The racers then spread like jam on toast. Brams walked away from the group and finished with a lead of 1:04. Barker kept her lead to place second, although it shrunk from forty to twenty seconds. McColgan laid down a blazing last lap, the fastest final split of the women, to lock in the final podium spot. UVM took the team score for the women with McColgan (3rd) joined by her teammates Marielle Ackermann (4th) and Libby Tuttle (7th). UNH was a close second and Dartmouth third.
Shea Brams and Annie McColgan celebrate their podium performances post-race at Oak Hill (photo courtesy flyingpointroad.com).
The Colby Ski Team glowing in the sunshine at the Dartmouth Carnival (photo courtesy flyingpointroad.com).
Awards for both days of racing were presented to the athletes by John Caldwell. The now 95-year-old is a former Olympian and Dartmouth alum (class of 1950). Due to his numerous contributions to the sport through coaching, literature, and more, he is colloquially known as the "father" of cross-country skiing in the region and beyond. What a great honor to have his presence at the 2024 Dartmouth Carnival, championing the future of the sport!
Dartmouth skier Cam Wolfe, the bronze medalist, alongside John Caldwell and Chief of Comp Greg Lange (photo courtesy flyingpointroad.com).