UNH day two recap: a "classic" last day in Jackson for EISA's seniors
Updated: Feb 27
Frisson and laughter at the finish line. The assembled crowd cheered loudly as the last racer of the winter crossed the finish line. Cameras snapped, families gathered, and the collegiate racers sequentially started a different, bottled liquid race against the clock. It was the last carnival day of every EISA senior’s career and for some – those not headed to nationals – the last competitive collegiate race.
Ringed by the white mountains, the skiers raced with heavy legs at the end of an inverted weekend: yesterday’s 15k freestyle followed by today’s 5km classic. The top three for both the men’s and the women’s races today remained nearly the same, each with only a single-racer discrepancy. The men’s top three traded a wildcat for a panther, while the women’s race saw second, third, and fourth from yesterday all moved up a slot.
Ben Ogden screamed through the course today and finished first, more than a minute ahead of Peter Wolter, who finished in second place, slotting into the space UNH’s Scott Schulz occupied yesterday. For Wolter, a Middlebury senior, today was his last EISA carnival race; he finished neck and neck with UVM sophomore Jacob Nystedt, who finished third for a second day in a row and his fourth straight podium finish. Wolter’s time beat Nystedt’s by just over three seconds.
Amidst the tailgate behind Eagle Mountain House, Ogden gestured to the merry scene of parents and skiers and grill smoke, and said he was “stoked to be back” with the EISA after a winter away, a winter spent skiing in Europe and at the Olympics in Beijing. This weekend was Ogden’s first full carnival weekend after day two at Colby, EISA’s first carnival, was cancelled due to subzero temperatures.
He received a particularly warm reception, too, beyond the general atmosphere typical of an EISA weekend. “Everybody here is so supportive and so many athletes’ parents congratulated me and told me they watched my races, so that was really nice,” he said.
Despite only racing three races, the UVM senior finished the carnival season with three first-place finishes. On his win today, Ogden said it was all a matter of coming out strong and attacking the course without fear. In an echo of Jackson XC’s Ellen Chandler, he noted that the course allows you to ski it fast, if you allow yourself to ski it that way. The course has “short climbs,” he said, and so “good recovery.”
“So, you just can’t be afraid to really let it rip, and I think that was my strength today,” said Ogden.
The UVM women also let it rip and took up the first two spots on their podium. Anna Bizyukova finished first in her last ever EISA carnival, over 20 seconds ahead of her teammate, and second place finisher, Waverly Gebhardt. The women’s podium was rounded out by Colby’s Erin Bianco, who missed out on second place by less than two seconds.
Bizyukova, stood in the shadow of Eagle Mountain House and interrupted on her way up to the tailgate, reflected on her last ever collegiate race, and maybe her “last ever season in [her] skiing career.” The UVM grad student’s season was stellar – only one missed podium, that miss still in the top five: a fourth at Middlebury. Through “tired legs,” Bizyukova said she raced today with confidence, largely due to the fact that she prefers classic races and shorter distance. Today’s 5km was perfect. “I’m more of a short distance person,” Bizyukova said. “And, definitely, I’m less nervous on classic races.”
This season, she said, she placed a lot of pressure on herself, pressure that might have hindered her in some races. To end this season, her last, with a win was sweet, she said. “Yeah, I’m just really, really happy,” said Bizyukova.
Lead by Bizyukova and Ogden, distanced from the pack, UVM remained at the top of the team scores for UNH Carnival. Their total now that GS has been tallied: 928. The home squad finished second, with 728 points, and Middlebury came in third with 724.
The home team put in good performances, too: three top-ten finishes across the men's and women's races. Scott Schulz, who yesterday finished second, placed sixth, and Roger Anderson came in ninth in the men's race. On the women's side, Lisa Nystedt pushed the pace of the top ten. Just about a second separated her, ninth, from the seventh place skier.
So concludes the EISA Carnival season, but not our coverage of EISA Nordic skiers. Keep checking in on the website for this winter’s last skiers of the week, recaps from NCAA Nationals, and a roundup of the 2022 season!