Horse Barn burner at UVM
The University of Vermont hosted their Carnival slalom (SL) races today in cold, cloudy conditions. By afternoon, as temperatures crept into the double digits on Stowe’s Spruce Peak, a light snow fell. Racers, coaches, and fans were treated to the chilly embrace of a north wind.
Once again, the race trail stole the show. Or rather, the race trail enabled the show. Skiers from across EISA fell victim to Horse Barn — the final, unsparing pitch down Stowe’s inimitable Main Street. The women’s course during Run 1 was especially hard-hearted: as skiers tipped past the point of no return down Horse Barn, the gates were set wide on either side. And though the men’s course was a little more generous down this waterfall-of-a-drop, the results weren’t always pretty.
To be fair, we saw incredible feats of athleticism, especially as skiers recovered balance juuuuust in time to redirect their skis to the next gate. But we also saw athletes spread-eagled on their backs. One young man was kicked out to the B-net and hung up like a fly in a web. Not long after, a young woman crashed down, lost a pole, hiked partway up Horse Barn, and then — with two hands holding the single pole as if it were a paddle — rowed her way to the finish. This exemplifies another trait the race brought out today: determination. The field was whittled down so thoroughly that if you had the gumption to grit it out, chances are you were able to bring home some points for your team.
The men’s field began with 102 athletes. The women started with 84. By the end of it, 45 men and 46 women completed the race.
Dartmouth College took their turn atop the podium today, winning both SL races. The men topped UVM 118-106. Middlebury was third with 93, and UNH took fourth place with 85 points. In fifth: Plymouth State University (73 points).
In the women’s race, it was a great day for Small Colleges across New England: three of the top-five were so-called “small schools.” Colby College took second behind Dartmouth, tallying 102 points to the Big Green’s 138. Middlebury scored 99 points for third. UNH was fourth with 77 points, and Williams College took fifth place with 69.
If there is one skier who made the race look easy today, it’s Tanguy Nef (DAR). There were whispers in the crowd that he might be jet-lagged (After all, he finished top-20 at the World Cup SL in Schladming just a few days ago.) (Schladming is in Austria.), but however he was feeling, he won today’s race by about three seconds: 1:46.70. Second place was Middlebury’s Erik Arvidsson in 1:49.50. Saint Michael’s College’s Guillaume Grand took third (1:49.78).
Middlebury College Head Coach Stever Bartlett was content with Arvidsson’s finish, and also gave credit where it’s due: “It’s good,” Bartlett said. “But you have to give respect to a guy who’s getting top-30s in World Cups.”
When pressed on how Nef is able to so handily dismantle the combination, Bartlett explained: “He’s super-balanced. All of his work is in the fall-line. He doesn’t do a lot of — his feet aren’t swinging, getting really lateral. They’re right underneath him. Super efficient. And it looks like it’s easy. He makes it look like nothing.”
Interestingly, Saint Mike’s Head Coach Gus MacLeod echoed that sentiment indirectly. Though I didn’t ask him about Nef’s skiing, I did ask him about Grand’s performance. In describing Grand’s finish today, MacLeod noted that small errors (the kind that are so hard to find in Nef’s skiing) are what someone like Grand wants to iron out in order to make it from the podium’s bottom step to the top.
“Today I think he [Grand] will be a little frustrated with his second run,” MacLeod said. “He kind of took his foot off the gas just a little bit and had a couple of minor mistakes. And was just a little underneath it on a couple of turns.”
“But,” MacLeod concluded, “I think he’ll also be happy to get back on that podium."
Rounding out the top of the men’s field: UVM’s Patrick McConville finished fourth in 1:50.25, and his teammate Max Roeisland followed right behind in fifth (1:50.67). Middlebury’s Tim Gavett joined Arvidsson in the top-10, placing sixth in 1:50.91. A pair of Dartmouth skiers — Kipling Weisel (1:51.29) and James Ferri (1:51.50) — placed seventh and eighth, respectively. And Will Bruneau-Bouchard (UNH; 1:51.64) took ninth ahead of Saint Lawrence University’s Carter Armstrong (10th; 1:51.74).
In the women’s field, Dartmouth almost matched UVM’s podium sweep from yesterday, but UNH’s Emma Woodhouse threw a wrench in that plan. The Big Green’s Alexa Dlouhy won the women’s race by more than a second, finishing with a combined time of 1:56.29. Her teammate Steph Currie placed second (1:57.59). Woodhouse took third in 1:57.69 — just one-tenth of a second back. Dartmouth’s Patricia Mangan was fourth (1:58.12).
Despite not sweeping the steps, Dartmouth Head Women’s Coach John Dwyer was pleased with the results, citing the talent level across EISA.
“Having the [Dartmouth] girls ski really well was nice,” Dwyer said. “Just one step away from having all-Dartmouth [atop the podium], but Emma [Woodhouse] skied really well. It’s good to see a lot of different schools and athletes skiing well. It’s at a really high level.”
Middlebury’s Caroline Bartlett (2:01.37) took fifth place, and Sandra Schoepke (6th; 2:01.71) led an outstanding performance by Colby College: Schoepke was sixth; Rosie Hust (2:02.58), eighth; and Lily Hogan (2:03.46) finished eleventh.
Next week the Carnival wheel keeps on turning: we head to Lyme, NH, for the Dartmouth Carnival.