More bodies packed into the stadium than usual, a mix of ski team jackets vaguely familiar yet slightly off. Some of the alpine racers, particularly the Middlebury squad, had filled in to the Rikert Nordic Center after their own races were cancelled by this morning’s rain. The weather couldn't halt proceedings for the Nordic races, though, and by and large the course held firm and made for a day of quick finishes.
As Middlebury captain Peter Wolter – the reigning skier of the week – spun around the final 180 degree turn towards the finish of his 10k classic race, the pack of Middlebury students, parents, and alpine skiers exploded into cheers.
Still panting, speaking just after exiting the finish area, Wolter proclaimed he felt he skied a good race. Maybe too quick at the beginning, but overall, he felt like he was moving fast. And the extra fans did their part, too. “It was good,” said Wolter. “I love Mid carnival. It’s the most fun, I think, and it’s a bummer that the alpine races got cancelled but it’s pretty sick that all the alpine teams came to cheer us on.”
For Wolter, a senior at Middlebury, this will be his last home carnival. With a time of 24:04.6, Wolter only just missed out on first place on day one, though it was enough for second. UVM skier Jacob Nystedt occupied the top spot today, skiing a rapid 24:00.9. Nystedt has finished in the top ten for all but one race this carnival season. This win is also the first carnival win of UVM sophomore’s career.
After two broken poles in last weekend’s races, and competitive finishes all the same, Nystedt said he knew that something had to give this weekend. With a course holding rather firm (and skiing fast) despite all the rain, Nystedt said he felt he skied a strong race. That, combined with the UVM coaches nailing the wax today, aligned the stars for the skier from Sweden.
Breaking away from coach Patrick Weaver after a cool down, Nystedt said he “felt great. It was super nice, the tracks were super good, especially when you compare to the weather.”
“I just went for it you know, just ski fast and stay relaxed, and just enjoy it,” said Nystedt. “I felt like I had to turn this around and not break any poles. So, I’m super excited about this race. First college win, I’m just super happy.”
Behind Wolter to round out the men’s podium was Eliot Ketchel, from Bowdoin, who finished with a time of 24:23.6. Nystedt, Wolter, then Ketchel are the men's top three in order.
If the men’s races saw a rather democratic distribution of finishes across the EISA schools, the UVM women impressed their authority on the field at Rikert. Anna Bizyukova has been a staple on the carnival podium’s this winter, and today was no exception. She skied the fastest, with a time of 13:18.6 in the women’s 5k classic. Finishing second was Waverly Gebhardt, in 13:30.5. Pheobe Sweet finished third with a time of 13:51.8.
The UVM women certainly took advantage of a slightly diminished women’s field this weekend. Freshman upstarts Jasmine Lyons and Jasmine Drolet, who each grabbed a first-place last weekend, are skiing at the World Junior Championships this weekend, paving the way for UVM to sweep the podium. Expect more of the same in tomorrow’s mass start race from the Catamount women.
So wraps day one in the Breadloaf Wilderness. Hesitant predictions for the mass start races: Middlebury's Wolter makes some corrections and returns a first place finish and the UVM women continue to color their podium green. Check back in tomorrow for another recap of day two: mass start freestyle races for both the men and the women!