New Faces on Podium as Vermont Wins Middlebury Carnival

HANCOCK/RIPTON, Vt. — The University of Vermont overcame adversity to extend their lead over Dartmouth and claim victory in the Middlebury Carnival by 74 points. Dartmouth College came in second with 859 points and Middlebury College skied to third place with 766 points.

In the women’s giant slalom race, athletes in the top 15 struggled to find a rhythm while other athletes were able to attack from the back. University of New Hamphire’s Randa Teschner started bib 24 and won the first run. She kept her momentum second run and went on to win the race. Middlebury’s Mary Sackbauer had her first EISA podium on her home hill, taking second place. UNH’s Jenna Kantor rounded out the podium in third, giving the UNH lady Wildcats a team victory.

For the men, Vermont’s Jonathan Nordbotten grabbed his first giant slalom victory of the season. Coming into first run, Nordbotten was concerned with maintaining his speed onto the flats.

“You have to skate as hard as you can out of the start to the pitch and then you have to ski those three first gates on the pitch really well,” Nordbotten said.

Catamount teammate Travis Dawson, who won Friday’s slalom race, skied to second place and won the second run, placing the Vermont men’s team in first position. Middlebury’s David Donaldson finished third for the day.

Down the road at the Rikert Nordic Center, conditions were sunny, fast and at times dangerous for Sunday's mass start freestyle races on the final day of the Middlebury Carnival.

Scott Patterson once again dominated the men’s 20k event. The UVM junior broke away from the field near the 5-kilometer mark, and skied alone for the rest of the race, winning the event in a time of 45:13.7. Dartmouth's Sam Tarling, winner of Friday's 10k classic race, skied alone as well, chasing Patterson for the duration of the race. Tarling settled for second, and skied into the finish just ahead of a charging group of skiers fighting for the final podium spot.

In a lunge for the line, Dartmouth's Scott Lacy grabbed third place over Middlebury's Benjamin Lustgarten. UVM's Rogan Brown rounded out the top-5, helping Vermont claim a narrow 2-point victory over the Big Green in the team score.

While Patterson has failed to lose a freestyle race all season, it was a new face atop the women's podium. Dartmouth's Mary O'Connell won her first EISA Carnival in 39:35, besting UVM skier Anja Gruber by 17 seconds. O'Connell broke away early, though Gruber made a move to regain contact with the Dartmouth skier and retake the lead at the 10-kilometer mark. O'Connell was not fazed, however, and made a definitive break during the last lap to cruise to her first win.

Another Vermont skier, Linda Danvind-Malm, claimed her second top-5 performance of the weekend in 3rd place. Dartmouth and UVM swept the first six places, as Annie Hart (DAR) and Stephanie Kirk (UVM) rounded out the top-5. Like the men's race, the competition for points was tight, though this time it was the Vermont women who eked out a 4-point victory in the team score.

One of the more notable aspects of the races was the icy corners, which led to numerous crashes and moments of carnage throughout the day. Patches of ice surrounded by sugary snow littered the course's technical downhill sections, and both races featured multiple pile-ups and falls as racers lost poles and even skis.

“I was lucky to stay on my feet, but a lot of girls ran into trouble when things got congested on those corners,” exclaimed St. Lawrence senior Kelsey Nichols. “It was wild!”

Middlebury will host NCAA Championships back at these same venues in less than a month, but first the EISA circuit travels to Eastern Championships hosted by Bates College Feb. 22-23.

Complete individual and team scoring from the Middlebury Carnival can be viewed here.

Gabbi Hall and Adam Terko contributed to this report


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