Nordic NCAA Championship Day 2
The women's field starts the 20 km classic race this morning (photo courtesy of Paul Bierman).
This morning the sun was shining brightly over the course as athletes tested wax and warmed up for the last race of the 2023 Nordic season. With temperatures rising to the high thirties, the tracks glazed slightly by the start of the men’s race, leading to tricky waxing conditions. The energy at the venue was high, with crowds of parents, siblings, teammates, and coaches lining the edges of the course to cheer on the athletes.
EISA skiers presented strong classic results today, with four athletes earning All-American honors. UNH’s Jasmine Lyons (6th), Dartmouth’s Ava Thurston (7th) and Jasmine Drolet (8th), and UVM’s Waverly Gebhardt (10th) all skied to impressive Top-10 finishes. EISA packed six more athletes into the Top-20, with fast skiing from Haley Brewster (UVM, 12th), Shea Brams (Middlebury, 13th), Emma Strack (St. Lawrence, 14th), Lea Stabaek Wenaas (UNH, 16th), Charlotte Ogden (Middlebury, 18th), and Annie McColgan (UVM, 19th).
Haley Brewster (UVM), Emma Strack (SLU), and Shea Brams (Middlebury) ski down the course (photo courtesy of Paul Bierman).
Emma Strack, a sophomore at St. Lawrence, described skiing with the chase pack during the race. “I wanted to stay with them but I had to make sure I wasn’t hurting myself until I needed to,” she said. Strack had two Top-15 finishes for an impressive NCAA weekend.
Shea Brams, a first-year at Middlebury, told me she and her teammates prepared for the difficult course by thinking of race mantras. When it got tough, Brams reminded herself how much she loves the sport despite how hard racing can be. “Sometimes I’m like wow, I’m doing the hardest sport and I’m a beast!” Her teammate, senior Charlotte Ogden, also shared some of the words of encouragement she thought of during the many laps. “Trust your fitness, I’ve done this before, I can ski with these girls, I earned my spot here,” she told me. “The race was really fun, and really, really hard, but we finished it.” Ogden finishes out the final NCAAs of her career with two Top-20 finishes for the Panthers.
Brams skiing for Middlebury (photo courtesy of David Brams).
Annie McColgan, a sophomore at UVM, was thankful for the loud cheering and energetic crowd that her teammates brought to the top of the racecourse. “It’s super special when all of EISA comes out to cheer and gets you up the hill,” she told me. For McColgan, EISA is about pushing yourself with your friends by your side. “Shoutout to my roommate and teammate Waverly Gebhardt,” McColgan said smiling. “She’s been so close to a top ten for years. Today she really sprinted for it, and I could not be prouder.”
Middlebury and Harvard skiers cheer together at the top of the course.
It was an impressive day for the EISA men, with schools from the east coast sweeping the men’s podium. Remí Drolet (1st), John Steel Hagenbuch (2nd), and Jacob Nystedt (3rd) skied to an impressive lead on the field for most of the race. Dartmouth put all three qualifiers in the Top-15, with Jack Lange (9th) and Luke Allan (13th) skiing fast for the Big Green. Logan Moore (Middlebury, 14th), Willson Moore (Middlebury, 15th), Zach Nemeth (Colby, 19th) and Scott Schulz (UNH, 20th) all raced to Top-20 results for the EISA.
Wilson Moore skiing for Middlebury (photo courtesy of David Brams).
Jack Young, a sophomore at Colby, had a lot of feelings after the last race. “It’s a little bittersweet,” he told me, “It’s been such an amazing season for me. I’m sad to have it be finished but also, I’m ready for a little bit of time off.”
Jacob Nystedt, a senior at UVM, was emotional after his third-place result. “I’m speechless. It was my last race ever in my ski career, and I knew that I had it in me,” he said. “My coaches have been doing a great job in the wax cabin and I went out today with great skis.” Nystedt was grinning from ear to ear, with his friends congratulating him left and right. “I just felt like if I was going to get a podium, this was it. This was my shot,” he said. “It’s just awesome, finishing up like this.”
Drolet and Nystedt race during today's 20 km mass start (photo courtesy of Paul Bierman).
Remí Drolet, a junior from Harvard, was today’s champion in the 20 km classic. He shook his head talking to me, unable to believe it was real. “This means everything,” he told me. “It was one of my big goals for the year.” Busy with academic work, Drolet didn’t get as much sleep before the races as he wanted. However, he didn’t let his preparations get in the way of his mental game on race day. “I got up here this morning and decided I really wanted it. It was a really hard fight all the way to the finish. There were moments when I didn’t know if I could do it, but I’m really happy I made it all the way back to the end.” A team player, Drolet references the teammates that support him. “It’s not just a win for me,” he told me, smiling. “My team and the coaches have been so great this year and I love all these guys. They’ve supported me along the way. I’m just so happy to be here and to come away with this result.”
EISA skiers Remí Drolet (Harvard) and John Steel Hagenbuch (Dartmouth) race into the finish (photo courtesy of Paul Bierman).
It was a fantastic day for ski racing, and an even better day for the EISA athletes. Done with competition for this season, the circuit will close its doors until January of 2024. Congratulations to all the athletes on an amazing effort this season and see you next year, folks!