The first race of the UNH Carnival began with snowfall, smiles, and ski boots! The men initiated the races as they started their 20 kilometer race in Jackson, NH. The women raced 15 kilometers, completing three 5 kilometer laps and the men four 5 kilometer laps. The snow continued to dump on the spectators and skiers from the beginning of the day until the afternoon, painting a beautiful white blanket on the rolling hills and fields the Jackson ski area has to offer. The course was difficult, with a steep hill in the early portion of the 5k loop and a longer hill just after it. Today's races were all about endurance, strength, and willpower to push through an impressive long-distance race.
UVM male skiers Bill Harmeyer and Matias Oevrum earned first and second place respectively, showing UVM men have well-rounded talent even after doubling the distance from last weekend's race (10k at Lake Placid). Middlebury senior skier, Lewis Nottonson, placed an incredible third place in the 20k race. Nottonson noted his main goal of the lengthy race was to "stick with the front pack of skiers" throughout the race, recognizing he dislikes finishing in large clusters of skiers, especially with a mass start. He capitalized on this mental note and ensured there were only a few skiers "around him at the finish line" so he didn't have to sprint too hard at the finish, which gave him the opportunity to give it his all on the uphills today. He also gave a shout out to the Middlebury wax techs, saying his skis were awesome, allowing him to stride efficiently up the hill and race competitively on the downhills. Finn O'Connell earned fourth place representing UVM, with Elliot Ketchell (BOW) less than ONE second behind him earning fifth place! Callan DeLine placed first for the Dartmouth men's team with 8th place, and today's top skier for Harvard, James Kitch, came in 9th place with a time of 55:24. Notable Colby skier, Zane Fields, placed 13th today, with a time of 55:33, four seconds in front of 12th place holder Henry Harmeyer (UVM).
Top Dartmouth skier Katharine Ogden placed first with a time of 46:51 for the 15k, and teammate Leah Brams had a great race with a time of 47:15. Ogden commented that the Dartmouth women focused on "skiing as a team" and "skiing efficiently together," utilizing the remarkable number of Dartmouth women in the leading group of skiers. Brams reminded herself of something her friend told her, "to think no one can drop you," so she refused to "give herself that option" of losing the skiers in front of her. Annika Landis represented Middlebury as she earned third place today, just one second behind Brams. Lauren Jortberg (4th), Margaret Gellert (6th), Emily Hyde (8th), Lydia Banchet (9th) all placed in the top 10, resulting in Dartmouth women earning six of the top ten spots in the 15k. Bowdoin skier, Gabby Vandendries (11th), focused on remaining calm, in respect to both not going out too fast and maintaining an appropriate pace for her throughout the three laps. Her piece of advise regarding mass starts was to "stay calm" and to make sure nobody ends up bunched up with one another.
Although some athletes made the 15 and 20k races look easy when gracefully striding uphill, their mental toughness shows once they collapse across the finish line. With sprints and snow in the books for tomorrow, it will be interesting to watch the possibly different (or the same!) skiers excel within their own skiing strengths. Awesome job to all of the skiers who worked hard in the long-distance races today!!