Skiers of the Week—Colby College Carnival


Kristina Riis-Johannessen UVM - 1st SL, 6th GS
Photo: UVM Athletics
Travis Dawson UVM - 3rd SL, 4th GS
Photo: UVM Athletics


Annika Taylor UNH - 1st 15k Freestyle, 2nd 5k Classic
Photo: UNH Athletics
Ben Lustgarten MID - 1st 10k Classic, 3rd 20k Freestyle
Photo: Middlebury Athletics

Wildcat Women Maintain Nordic Dominance As Vermont Wins Colby Carnival

New Hampshire's Annika Taylor (4) and Elizabeth Izzo (7) worked together for the team win (photo: C.J. Feehan)

CARRABASSETT VALLEY/WATERVILLE, Maine — The women’s Nordic team from the University of New Hampshire continued to demonstrate its dominance in the second day of the Colby Carnival, but it was the defending NCAA champion University of Vermont Catamounts who once again posted the highest team score for the weekend with 962 points. Dartmouth finished second with 845, and the New Hampshire Wildcats were third with 786 points.

Kristina Riis-Johannessen led the charge in Vermont’s women’s slalom podium sweep at Sugarloaf. Fellow Catamount Elise Tefre was second and Kate Ryley third. Bates’ Avril Dunleavy, who threatened a podium result with her first run, ultimately finished fifth for her second straight top 5 of the weekend.

The men’s slalom saw Norwegian World Cup skier and Vermont Catamount Jonathan Nordbotten get back to his winning ways. He took the win over Middlebury’s David Donaldson by just one-tenth of a second. The undeniably consistent Travis Dawson of UVM rounded out the podium in third, and Dartmouth’s Hunter Black took fourth. Middlebury posted the strongest team scoring in the event behind Vermont’s impressive showing.

Back at the Quarry Road trail network behind Colby College, the mass start skate races had familiar results despite numerous crashes and some up close and personal encounters with trees. Vermont’s Scott Patterson got off to a quick start in the men’s 20k and held a sizeable gap over the competition throughout the entire 5-lap race. He ultimately finished over a minute ahead of runner-up Steven Mangan of Dartmouth. Middlebury’s Ben Lustgarten, the victor from the previous day, finished third. Vermont’s Peter Hegman, who crashed on a rugged downhill turn that took out a handful of competitors, was able to rally to an 11th-place result.

“I definitely turned it into my own race,” noted Patterson. “I do a lot of training on my own, so I like skiing out there on my own. It’s pretty sweet after last year when I was always way back there, struggling and having a miserable time. It’s amazing to be back on top, and I’m really enjoying skiing.”

Despite Anja Gruber’s initial lead in the women’s 15k, strong tactics by New Hampshire Wildcats Annika Taylor, Anya Bean, and Elizabeth Izzo eventually overtook the dominant Catamount who was hung out alone in the lead pack. Taylor and Bean finished first and second, respectively, and Gruber had to settle for third. However, it was Gruber’s fourth podium in as many races, so she had no complaints on the day. Bowdoin’s Kaitlynn Miller turned out an impressive performance in fourth, and Elizabeth Izzo ultimately finished seventh.

“UVM started off really hard, and I don’t like to start off hard, so I kind of just played my race and stayed out of trouble,” said race winner Taylor. “The last laps, I was just trying to push my way on the flats to get around people and then end up first on the downhill because I’m pretty confident on the downhills. It’s surreal! I guess Cory’s [Schwartz] doing something right, and we work so well together as a team.”

Next week’s EISA action is a return to the UVM Carnival where the Nordic portion of the event will be contested Feb. 2-3 at the Trapp Family Lodge. 

Donaldson Blocks UVM Sweep at Day 1 of Colby Carnival

Dartmouth's Abby Fucigna rips to a podium finish at Sugarloaf (photo: Cory Ransom)

CARRABASSETT VALLEY/WATERVILLE, Maine — On the opening day of the Colby College Carnival, Middlebury’s David Donaldson claimed victory in the giant slalom to block a threatening podium sweep by the University of Vermont. Convincing victories by Catamounts Kate Ryley in the slalom and Anja Gruber in the 5k classic have propelled UVM into the team lead. Calculating the classic, giant slalom, and slalom races (to be reported on tomorrow), Vermont (731) currently maintains a 104-point lead over Dartmouth (627), while New Hampshire (584) is third and Middlebury (540.5) sits fourth.

The University of New Hampshire Nordic women prevailed once again in the 5k classic despite Gruber’s victory. Wildcat Annika Taylor was second, Anya Bean seventh, and Elizabeth Izzo eighth in the race held on a new trail network in Waterville near the Colby campus. The women’s podium was rounded out by Dartmouth’s Emily Blackmer in third.

Alpine Panther David Donaldson was joined in victory by his Nordic teammate Ben Lustgarten in the men’s 10k classic. It was a career first EISA victory for the Middlebury junior. Dartmouth’s Scott Lacy and Silas Talbot, who swapped places from last weekend’s 20k classic race, finished second and third, respectively.  

On his strategy for the course, Lustgarten remarked, "I really just tried to hit those longer steep hills hard and then attempted to recover with a strong double-pole in the flats and recover as much as possible in the three-second tuck on the tiny downhills. The weather was not as bas as training this past week so it felt really good actually, could race in a headband so that was really nice." 

Over an hour away at the bone-chillingly cold and windy Sugarloaf, Lustgarten's Panther counterpart Donaldson held off UVM’s Sean Higgins, Morgan Megarry, Travis Dawson, and Dom Garand who commanded positions 2-5. For California native Sean Higgins, it was his first NCAA podium since winning the Williams Carnival slalom last February.

“I was fourth a couple more times than I’d like this year, so it was definitely a great feeling to be back on the podium. We love Donnie and we have so much respect for his skiing, so it’s not that big of a deal when he beats us,” said a pleased yet humbled Higgins.

Vermont’s Kate Ryley claimed a big win in the giant slalom as well with a greater than one second margin of victory over defending NCAA champion Rebecca Nadler of Harvard. Abby Fucigna of Dartmouth squeezed into third for the Big Green and also collected her career first EISA podium result.

“I was trying to win, but a podium is a good first step. I had an interesting start to the season figuring out equipment, and I’ve been skiing a little better in GS, so this is a step in the right direction,” reasoned Fucigna.

Also noteworthy in the giant slalom was Avril Dunleavy of Bates who started with bib 32 and climbed her way to a fourth-place finish. New Hampshire’s Jenna Kantor, who had struggled to put two solid race runs together this season, started in position 35 and clawed into seventh. Crowd favorite Jim Ryan of the home team Mules posted a top-10 finish for his Colby fans.

Complete Carnival results here

Skiers of the Week—St. Lawrence University Carnival


Elli Terwiel UVM - 1st SL, 3rd GS
Photo: UVM Athletics

David Donaldson MIDD - 1st SL, 1st GS
Photo: Middlebury Athletics


Anja Gruber UVM - 1st 15k Freestyle, 2nd 3k Prologue
Photo: UVM Athletics

Scott Patterson - 1st 20k Freestyle, 1st 3k Prologue
Photo: UVM Athletics

Middlebury's Donaldson and Vermont's Patterson Go Two-For-Two

Vermont's Elli Terwiel won the women's slalom by a sizable margin (photo: Marina Knight)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The defending NCAA champion University of Vermont Catamounts capped off an impressive victory in the first completed carnival of the EISA season with slalom races and an individual freestyle prologue on Sunday. Vermont tallied 1,013 points to take the team win over runner-up Dartmouth with 788 points and third place New Hampshire who collected 748.5 points. 

The University of New Hampshire Nordic women once again dominated the freestyle race, winning team scoring in the 3k prologue. Elizabeth Izzo took the win, and teammates Anya Bean and Annika Taylor finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Vermont Catamount Anja Gruber, who won Friday's race, finished second while Dartmouth's Carly Wynn rounded out the podium in third.

Vermont's Scott Patterson won for the second day in a row, demonstrating that the illness and injury that plagued him last season is certainly a thing of the past. Jordan Buetow of Bates, a promising freestyle specialist, collected his first EISA podium in second, as did Vermont's Cole Morgen in third.

The slalom races at Whiteface Mountain in nearby Wilmington saw familiar faces on top once again. Middlebury's David Donaldson won the men's contest and is now 3-for-4 on victories in EISA competition this season. Vermont's Travis Dawson, last week's slalom victor, placed second and New Hampshire's Coley Oliver was third.

Donaldson, or 'Donnie' as he is known on the circuit, skied with bad frostbite from the previous day and remarked, "It was a little warmer [today] which actually played against my frostbite because if it's cold enough, you don't feel your toes, they just kind of go away, and you can ski the rest of the day. When it's as warm as it was today, you feel them every single turn."

Middlebury alpine coach Abby Copeland says Donaldson brings something special to the Panther squad. "Donnie brings way more than just good results. He's a real team guy, always helping out, coaching actually. Athletes ride up the chairlift with him to get feedback, and he's supportive of everyone on our team which is, frankly, my favorite thing about him. To see him ski well both days is awesome for him and awesome for the team," she said.

In the women's race, Vermont's Elli Terwiel, fresh off a 17th place finish in the Flachau World Cup night slalom, claimed a victory just shy of two seconds over teammate Kristina Riis-Johannessen. Dartmouth's Lizzie Kistler, a freshman, claimed her first official EISA podium in third.

EISA racing continues Jan. 25-27 when Colby College hosts the next carnival with alpine events at Sugarloaf and Nordic races at the Quarry Road Trails.

Complete team scoring from the St. Lawrence Carnival:
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT - 1013.0            
2.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE - 788.0            
3.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE - 748.5            
4.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE - 695.0            
5.   BATES COLLEGE - 551.5            
6.   COLBY COLLEGE - 474.5            
7.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE - 449.0            
8.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - 445.0            
9.   HARVARD UNIVERSITY - 314.5            
10.   ST MICHAELS COLLEGE - 219.5            
11.   BOWDOIN COLLEGE - 196.0            
12.   UNIVERSITE' LAVAL - 181.5            
13.   BOSTON COLLEGE - 151.0            
14.   PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY - 129.0            
15.   COLBY SAWYER COLLEGE - 81.0            

Video of double race winner David Donaldson of the Middlebury Panthers.

New Hampshire Wins Women's 15k, Vermont Takes Overall Lead at St. Lawrence Carnival

Vermont's Scott Patterson returns to his winning ways (photo: C.J. Feehan)
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The New Hampshire Wildcats registered a monumental team victory in the women's 15k freestyle race at Mt. Van Hoevenbeurg on the first day of the St. Lawrence Carnival. Anya Bean, Annika Taylor, and Elizabeth Izzo swept positions 2-4 to produce the best Nordic result for their school in recent history. Vermont holds the team lead by 97 points over Dartmouth heading into the second day of competition, but the first day of racing produced some surprise results across the board.

New Hampshire's head Nordic coach Cory Schwartz remarked, "Our women's team is very deep this year. For this weekend we were missing one of our top women—as was Dartmouth and Middlebury—so we know each weekend there will be a fight among the teams. I am very proud of how the team performed, as I think this might one of the best finishes during my tenure."

Anja Gruber, the Vermont Catamount who regularly placed as the fourth team skier last season, finally got her day—albeit a cold one—in the spotlight. Both Gruber and teammate Scott Patterson, whose 2012 season was plagued by injury and illness, took home the Nordic wins for the Cats despite subzero morning temperatures.

"I think in the end the cold didn't matter that much because it was the same for everyone, and the conditions and the course were really great," said Gruber. "We've trained really well all year, so all you can do is warm up well and dress warm enough and ski your best." 

Nordic powerhouse Dartmouth College rounded out the men's 20k freestyle podium with Silas Talbot and Scott Lacy placing second and third, respectively.

In alpine giant slalom action, Vermont swept the women's podium following the lead of Kate Ryley. Kristina Riis-Johannessen was second and Elli Terwiel, fresh off a 17th-place finish in the Flachau World Cup slalom, finished third. The first non-Cat in the points was the ever-familiar defending NCAA champion Rebecca Nadler of Harvard University.

David Donaldson of Middlebury College continued his giant slalom winning streak, besting Vermont's Jonathan Nordbotten, a regular on the World Cup circuit, by over a second. Donaldson's Panther teammate, Andrew McNealus finished third.

Team scores at the completion of Day 1 of the St. Lawrence Carnival:
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT - 508.0            
2.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE - 411.0            
3.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE - 364.0            
4.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE - 353.0            
5.   BATES COLLEGE - 269.0            
6.   COLBY COLLEGE - 228.5            
7.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - 219.5            
8.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE - 200.0            
9.   HARVARD UNIVERSITY - 174.0            
10.   BOWDOIN COLLEGE - 123.0            
11.   UNIVERSITE' LAVAL - 93.0            
12.   ST MICHAELS COLLEGE - 92.0            
13.   PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY - 82.0            
14.   BOSTON COLLEGE - 48.0            
15.   COLBY SAWYER COLLEGE - 42.0            

Vermont Holds Lead in Home Carnival, New Hampshire Claws Closer

Slalom winner Kristina Riis-Johannessen of the University of Vermont (photo: Cory Ransom)
STOWE, Vt. — The University of New Hampshire closed the gap in its hot pursuit of the University of Vermont in today’s slalom races.  Despite the fact that the home team Catamounts claimed victory in both slalom races with Kristina Riis-Johannessen and Travis Dawson, solid team skiing from the Wildcats enabled them to claw within 28 points of the leaders.

Soft and inconsistent snow conditions as a result of warm overnight temperatures and rain proved challenging for all athletes. In the men’s first run, 30 racers failed to finish, so even skiers who hiked and were over 30 seconds out of contention for the win still qualified for a second run. Travis Dawson overcame this adversity with a clear plan.

“After seeing the weather last night, I kind of just looked at the course this morning,” said Dawson before adding, “I decided that the best way to get down was just to really ski it clean, make as minimal mistakes as possible, and know the places where to accelerate and where to maybe be cautious.”

But New Hampshire Wildcat Sam Coffey, who also placed second in yesterday’s giant slalom, was on Dawson’s tail. He finished almost a second off the winning pace but still held onto his podium and runner-up status. Fredrik Sandell of St. Michael’s College was third.

On the strength of Sandell's result along with top 20 performances by teammates Carl Bredengen and Brad Farrell, St. Michael's was able to place third in men's team scoring for the day, a major accomplishment for the Purple Knights program. Many athletes, including New Hampshire's Coffey, were pleased with atypical results for the day.

“I knew the conditions were going to be rough from inspection, it was super soft,” said Coffey. “I just tried to have two solid runs. That’s what did it today. A lot of people went out, so it worked for me to stay on my feet.”

UVM’s Kristina Riis-Johannssen and Kate Ryley swapped positions from the giant slalom results but still claimed the first two slots in the women’s race. Riis-Johannessen was victorious by nearly 1.5 seconds over her teammate. Dartmouth’s Sara Kikut finished third, as Vermont and Dartmouth shared women’s squad victories in team scoring both tallying 122 points.

“I’ve been feeling good in training lately,” said Riis-Johannessen. “I didn’t really know how fast I was, but I guess I am fast. Today I was, and it just felt really good.”

The remainder of the UVM Carnival will be determined by Nordic races held on Feb. 2-3 at the Trapp Family Lodge.

UVM Carnival team scores at the conclusion of Day 2 (alpine only):
1.   UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT - 422.0                       
2.   UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE - 394.0                       
3.   DARTMOUTH COLLEGE - 357.0                       
4.   MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE - 292.0                       
5.   COLBY COLLEGE - 279.5                       
6.   ST LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - 270.0                       
7.   WILLIAMS COLLEGE - 250.0                       
8.   BATES COLLEGE - 232.0                      
9.   ST MICHAELS COLLEGE - 192.5                      
10.  BOSTON COLLEGE - 172.0                      
11.  HARVARD UNIVERSITY - 150.0                      
12.  PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY - 117.0                      

Finish area interview with race winner Travis Dawson: 

UVM Takes Early Lead at Home Carnival as New Hampshire Gives Chase

Middlebury's David Donaldson wins the opening EISA giant slalom race at Stowe (photo: Cory Ransom)

STOWE, Vt. — Despite injury and national team commitments preventing some of the University of Vermont’s top alpine skiers from competing in their home Carnival, the Catamounts took an early lead in the team standings after the first day of giant slalom racing at Stowe Mountain Resort. Kate Ryley and Kristina Riis-Johannessen took top podium honors for the Cats, and newcomer Morgan Megarry finished in third for the men. Although Vermont’s women’s team was able to win as a whole, New Hampshire dominated men’s team scoring and the Wildcats currently sit 50 points behind Vermont in second place.

“It’s hard to say when you start out,” said Vermont’s director of skiing Bill Reichelt. “I know Middlebury has a really strong men’s team, so they were in it to win it today, but they had some problems in the second run. It’s a good feeling to have a decent day in GS, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

David Donaldson, the former UVM skier who is completing his final year of NCAA eligibility as a Middlebury Panther, claimed victory in the men’s race followed by Wildcat Sam Coffey who made his second career trip to an EISA podium result.

“I was really stoked after first run because we had three guys in the top 5, and we were looking to make a good move,” remarked Donaldson. “The fact that those guys are right there with me in training, they know they can be fast. After that first run, we all knew we could be fast. It bodes well for the rest of the season, and all roads lead to NCAAs.”

The Panthers will have to jockey hard for the top spot with New Hampshire who also has a specific goal in mind.

“I know a goal for our men’s team, we’ve been talking, and we want to sweep a podium,” noted Coffey. “UVM has done it, and we think we can. We have a bunch of fast guys, and if three of us have a really good day, we think we can do it.”

Coffey was supported by teammates Taylor Vest-Burton in fifth and Kris Hopkins in sixth. Vermont gave close chase with Sean Higgins in fourth and Travis Dawson, the winner of the second run, ultimately finishing seventh.

“It was a little choppy for the men, and they just had to use the tactics that we talked about. They executed very well, and they did a lot better second run,” acknowledged Reichelt.

The surprise of the day was St. Lawrence University’s Allison Visconti, an athlete who had shown past potential in EISA slalom races but had never finished inside the top 15. She climbed from 13th in the first run to finish third, her career first NCAA podium.

UVM Carnival racing continues tomorrow (Jan. 12) when the alpine teams contest the slalom event at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Team Scores (after Day 1, alpine only):

1. Vermont – 250
2. New Hampshire - 200
3. Middlebury - 193
4. Dartmouth - 189
5. St. Lawrence - 157
6. Colby - 126
7. Williams – 119
8. Bates – 98
9. Saint Michael’s – 70
10. Boston College – 61
11. Plymouth State – 61
12. Harvard – 53
13. Colby-Sawyer – 39

Finish line interview with Vermont's race winner Kate Ryley and runner-up Kristina Riis-Johannessen: