EISA nordic racing resumed this past weekend with the Williams College Carnival in Lake Placid, NY. Traditionally held at Prospect Mountain, the carnival was forced to change venues due to lack of snow, a familiar situation this season. Thankfully, the Olympic Regional Development Authority welcomed the college circuit with open arms, putting together a solid 2.5-kilometer manmade race loop at their Olympic Ski Jump Complex.
The course, which was used previously this season for SuperTour racing in late January, wound its way around and up the back side of the ski jump landing hill before descending quickly into the stadium below. Warm weather throughout the weekend created conditions that alternated between soft sugary snow and sheer ice, making for technical skiing all around.
The race format for the weekend was somewhat unusual for a college carnival with both genders beginning the weekend with a 10 k skate, before following the next day with a 5 k classic. While there were NCAA points to be had on Friday, all carnival points were allocated based on the final finish order after the Saturday pursuit.
The University of Vermont got off to a flying start, landing three in the top four on the first day of racing. Alayna Sonnesyn took first in the women’s race in 27:45.1, meaning she would start the next day with an 18.5 second advantage over teammate Mary-Kate Cirelli. Annie Porkorny of Middlebury also set herself up well for Saturday’s pursuit, landing third just 1.2 seconds behind Cirelli. Iris Pessey took fourth place for the Catamounts, while Lydia Blanchet was the top Dartmouth woman in fifth place.
It was a similar story on the men’s side with UVM once again putting three in the top four. Jack Hegman led the field in 23:44.8, giving himself a 16.5 second advantage over teammate Jørgen Grav. Fabian Stocek of Dartmouth was another 10.9 seconds back in third place. Cole Morgan rounded out UVM’s top three in fourth place, while Callan Deline rounded out the top five for Dartmouth.
Despite rising temperatures, klister, and the threat of rain hovering overhead, Saturday promised to be a day of exciting racing. The top ten women from the day before were poised to start within 55 seconds, making for a potentially tight two lap pursuit race. It was Pokorny who rose to the occasion, putting in the fastest time of the day in 16:00.0, and racing to the top of the podium. Sonnesyn managed to hold onto second place, despite losing 30 seconds to Pokorny over the course of five kilometers. Cirelli secured a second podium spot for the Catamounts with the fifth fastest time of the day. Putting in the second fastest time of the day it was Katrin Larusson of the University of New Hampshire, who raced her way from eighth to fourth, staying just ahead of Blanchet who held onto fifth place.
In the men’s race, the start was considerably more spaced out, with only 7 men underway in the first minute. Once again it was Hegman who took the top spot with the second fastest time on the day, opening up his lead on teammate Grav to 27.3 seconds. Stocek put in the fastest time of the day, narrowly missing out on second place, just half a second behind Grav. Morgan held onto his fourth place position with the tenth fastest time of the day. The big change in the top five came from Eli Hoenig of Williams College who raced from eleventh to fifth at his home carnival with the fourth fastest time of the day.
With strong performances across the board, the weekend belonged to UVM who took home the win with 992 points ahead of Dartmouth with 919 points. UNH took home third with 720 points.
The Williams College Carnival concluded the EISA regular season. College racing with be back in action next weekend as the post season begins with the EISA Championships/NCAA Regionals at the Middlebury College Carnival. The Middlebury Carnival is set to go off on Friday at Rikert Nordic Center, which will make it only the second carnival this season to be hosted at its planned venue.