Williams GS Recap: Saint Michael's and Colby Charge to Victory
By: Caleb Horsch
As temperatures crept down on Friday, it was apparent that Saturday would be a treat for the racers of the EISA. A surface with plenty of moisture locked up overnight as Jiminy Peak hosted the second day of the Williams carnival. The fourth GS of the season challenged racers with its short duration making athletes charge hard and ski mistake-free to be fast.
The quality of the surface meant racers could charge from the back, and racers at the front of the pack could be ambitious. In the words of Colby assistant coach Sam Pelletier, "it was a blank canvas on which the athletes were able to paint their masterpiece." While some of them could do so, others lost their line and ended up on the wrong side of the hundredths that decided the day.
The women flipped the wand first, and Helene Kristoffersen from Saint Michael's laid down a run of near perfection. In a day that saw close times throughout the field, Kristoffersen destroyed the competition to take a first-run lead of over half a second. In second was Alexandra Cossette from Middlebury, who had yet to do better than 5th in a GS race this season. Of course, not to be forgotten is Hanna Larsson Nathhorst from Plymouth State, who has won the last three races and sat behind Cossette in third.
Helene Kristoffersen (Saint Micheal's) - Stephen R Cloutier
A similar cast of characters defined the men's race. Joachim Jagge Lindstoel from the University of Vermont charged hard to win the first run but by a slim margin over Freshmen Gray Flanagan, who busted onto the scene with his result today. The podium was rounded out by Flanagan's teammate Simen Strand.
As the NCAA qualifying picture started to come into view, athletes understood that just a top-10 finish would do little to help their chances, particularly on the women's side; a top 6 would be needed. The result was high-intensity skiing from athletes in the top 30 that made margins even closer.
Kristoffersen was playing with a relatively healthy lead, but that did not stop her from trouncing the field, winning the second run and the race by 1.52 seconds. Second went to Marina Vilanova from UVM, who moved up all the way from seventh to get her first podium of the season. Third went to Ella Spear from Colby, who earned the Mule's first podium since 2020.
Spear was well aware of what she needed to do. "I knew that I really had to ski fast second run if I wanted to move up overall and reach my season goals." She was able to do so even as the course deteriorated, "the skiing second run was not as clean," she said, "but I held on enough to move up one spot." It takes an impressive effort to podium on the EISA circuit, and all athletes know just how competitive it is.
Ella Spear (Colby) - Stephen R Cloutier
The men's podium stayed more or less the same from the first run, with Lindstroel cruising to his second win of the season. With the result, he retains his GS leader bib going into the final pair of races of the season.
The team winners on the day were Saint Michael's on the men's side and Colby on the women's side, with both teams compiling over 110 points. UVM took the overall carnival win finishing second on the day on both the men's and women's sides. Dartmouth finished a distant second, helped by a fifth and sixth-place finish from their men's team.
The makeup Saint Michael's carnival GS will kick off three days of racing at Whiteface Mountain next week. A Slalom and GS as part of the Saint Lawrence carnival will follow that. The short rest week near the end of the season will test athlete's fitness as the final opportunity to qualify for NCAAs comes up.
Currently, ten skiers from UVM, nine from Dartmouth, five from Saint Michael's and UNH, and three from Plymouth State and Colby sit inside the bubble. However, given the NCAA qualifying criteria, nothing will be decided until the last race.