It was deja vu all over again today at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center as the EISA circuit returned to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, this time for the UVM Carnival. The first day of racing, a classic sprint, was combined with the USSA SuperTour, adding the best continental skiers to the already cutthroat collegiate field.
A brief explanation of sprint racing:
Cross-country skiing sprints consist of a qualifier time trial, from which the top thirty skiers advance to three rounds of heats - Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and a Final (if you're a visual learner, you can see a sample bracket here.) All heats have six skiers.
The top two finishers in each five quarterfinals, plus the next two fastest skiers of any of the quarterfinals, advance to the next round.
These twelve advancing skiers are divided into two semifinals. The top two finishers in each semifinal, along with the next two fastest skiers of either heat, advance to the final.
Given the deep Carnival/SuperTour field, making it into the heats was a tall order. Carnival scoring was based off of the final results, of which places 31 and up were set after the qualifier, while athletes racing heats had a chance to improve (or regress) from their qualifying position. This made every meter of the 1.4 km sprint course monumental, with carnival points sure to be decided by the fractions of a second that separate places in sprint qualifiers.
With cold overnight temperatures and a daytime high in the mid 30s, the weather was perfect for ski racing. The tracks were set deep and firm, and held up well through the warming temperatures. Qualifier action began at 10:00 with the first women's starter, who was followed at fifteen second intervals by the rest of the women's, then men's field.
Twenty EISA women advanced from the qualifier into rounds. Three Middlebury and three Dartmouth women made it through quarters and into the semifinals, setting up a showdown for the women's individual and team win on the day. In the first semifinal, Middlebury senior Annika Landis finished fifth, edging out Dartmouth first-year Mara McCollor.
The women's race came down to the second semifinal, where Dartmouth junior Katherine Ogden finished second, just ahead of Middlebury's Maddie Morgan and Alex Lawson, while fellow Big Green Callie Young was sixth.
With Ogden the lone EISA skier advancing, the Carnival results were set. She would take the individual win while the Middlebury women went 2-3-4 in EISA results and outscored Dartmouth 136 to 132. Ogden finished third in the final, which was won by Olympian Ida Sargent.
On the men's side, fifteen EISA athletes advanced to rounds, while just two racers made it into the semifinals. The carnival would be won by either UVM's Ben Ogden or Middlebury's Peter Wolter. Ogden finished sixth in Semifinal 1, while Wolter matched his performance with a sixth in Semifinal 2. Ogden, who had the fastest qualifier time, matched his sister's performance with another carnival win (younger sister Charlotte, a Middlebury first-year, also finished 14th in the women's race.)
UVM's Bill Harmeyer was the third EISA male, helping UVM capture their third-straight men's team win. UVM was followed by Middlebury with 94 points and Dartmouth with 88 points.
Total nordic scores after day one are: Middlebury 226, UVM 222, and Dartmouth 214.
Racing continues tomorrow with a combined Carnival/SuperTour/Eastern Cup skate 5/10k individual start. Or, if you prefer acronyms, it'll be an EISA/USSA/EC race. Freezing rain is forecasted overnight which could create exciting conditions, and with over 450 total starters, the raceday scene is sure to be chaotic!
Full results, including open racers, are at the bottom of the page here:
Heat results are here: