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UVM Women sweep aside the field

Upon hearing that I was headed to Stowe this weekend, a friend asked me, “What’s your favorite thing about Main Street?”

Strange question, I thought. But the answer was obvious: “The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, just before Von Bargen’s Jewelry Store. Have you seen their exhibit on the 10th Mountain Division?”

The guy looked at me like the Southerner I am.

“No,” he said. “Main Street. Stowe. The race trail. UVM Carnival races. MMSC. Igor.”

For good measure, he added: “Main Street. Not the main street.”

New Englanders are so prickly!

My favorite thing about Main Street is the wacky terrain. The upper section of the hill is relatively normal. Pretty steep. Some fallaway. Nothing out of the ordinary. But that lower section — what some skiers term “Cross Two” and “Horse Barn” — it’s like the ground drops right out from under you. The trail’s pitch is fairly consistent until it’s not: in a couple places, things become pretty sheer.

I overheard one ski racer: “I’m glad I made it out alive, honestly.” (Note: She DNFd somewhere near Horse Barn.)

The exaggerated terrain at this Carnival challenges skiers’ fundamentals: course inspection, awareness. To succeed you need to commit to a line, even when you can’t see the gate ahead because it’s halfway down a near-vertical drop.

So perhaps it’s fitting that the home team won both the men’s and women’s UVM Carnival GS races today. They know the quirks of this quirky hill. The Catamount men eked out the “W” over Dartmouth, 119-118. Middlebury was third with 97 points, and Saint Michael’s College took fourth (83 points).

And the women! Well, the UVM women swept the podium: 141 points. (The last time a team swept the GS podium was the 2016 Dartmouth women's squad at the Bates Carnival.) Today, the Dartmouth women took second with 115 points, and UNH was third with 88. Saint Mike’s (78), Middlebury (72), and Colby (71) duked it out for 4-5-6, finishing within 10 points of one another.

The Catamounts were led by Francesca English, who won the race in a combined time of 2:09.38. Close on her heels was Mille Graesdal, just one-tenth back in 2:09.48. And rounding out the podium was Rachael Desrochers (2:11.69).

UVM's Francesca English won her home Carnival GS race in 2:09.38.

When asked about the 1-2-3 finish at their home Carnival, UVM Head Coach Bill Reichelt summed it up in a word: “Ideal,” he said.

It’s worth noting that Graesdal and Desrochers started in bibs 32 and 24, respectively. These moves signify a larger trend for the Cats. The beginning of UVM’s season has been rocky. Usually, they are battling for the win every weekend, but this year that hasn’t been the case. They’ve been farther back in the results than they would like to be.

“We didn’t ski to our ability the first two weekends, and the other teams did,” Reichelt said. “We’re kind of fighting our way out of the hole, so this is a first good step.”

From what Reichelt describes, the team put in a serious effort to recalibrate during the EISA off-week last weekend.

“The team called a meeting and set the ground rules about expectations,” Reichelt said. “Just kind of hit the reset button. Recalibrated, just got down to business and kind of turned it around. Everyone stepped up their commitment and work ethic, their organization.”

If today’s race is any indications, things are looking up.

Following the UVM sweep was Dartmouth’s Claire Thomas (2:11.83), who finished fourth with her teammate Patricia Mangan (2:12.01) in fifth. Mangan was in 20th place after the first run before turning things around with a third-place second run. UNH’s Lisa Olsson took sixth in 2:12.27, and Dartmouth’s Stephanie Currie (2:12.32) finished seventh.

In the men’s GS race today, Drew Duffy continued his dominance of the EISA circuit and won his fourth race in five attempts. He finished in 2:04.84, less than a tenth-of-a-second ahead of UVM’s Max Roeisland (2nd; 2:04.93). And — making the podium for the first time in his budding EISA career — Middlebury’s Tim Gavett took third place in 2:05.44.

Middlebury Head Coach Stever Bartlett was pleased with the performance, noting that Gavett has been skiing well with his sights set not only on EISA races, but the World Junior Championships, too.

“It’s his first podium,” Bartlett said. “I think he’s won three FIS races so far this season, so he’s been skiing strong and fast. Now, to put two runs together in a strong field and podium: it’s good. The added dimension is that he’s a contender for World Juniors. He’s leaving tomorrow or Sunday to go to Nor-Ams to try to make the World Junior Team…He’s one of the top juniors in the country. He could do it, I think.”

Just off the podium was Saint Michael’s College’s Guillaume Grand (4th; 2:05.50). He finished within a hair’s breadth of Gavett, just six-hundredths of a second behind him. Grand had a great second run: he was the second fastest down the course. Dartmouth’s Kipling Weisel was fifth (2:05.73.), and UVM skiers Patrick McConville (2:06.48) and David Frisk (2:06.7) took sixth and seventh.

Tomorrow, we’re back on Main Street for SL races. Hold on tight.


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