Skiing takes second at East Regional Skiing Championship

by Kourtney Kawano | 3/4/15 6:01pm

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After finding itself in a close race for second in the first day of the St. Lawrence Carnival, the ski teams pulled ahead with higher placements in the men’s 20K classic and slalom to solidify a strong second-place finish overall. The Big Green earned a total of 782 points and edged the University of New Hampshire by a slim margin of 12 points. Even with the strong second-day finishes, though, the Big Green could not catch the University of Vermont who came away from Lake Placid, New York, with this past weekend’s NCAA East Regional Championship title with a strong lead of 1,001 points.

The men’s Nordic squad had another impressive finish in the 10K free held at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg course. Patrick Caldwell ’17took the top spot on the podium with a time of 27:16.7, more than 35 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Rogan Brown of UVM. Jan Ketterson ’17 gave another great performance in the race and joined Caldwell on the podium with a third-place finish in 28:19.0 after fending off Vermont’s Jorgen Grav by four seconds. Silas Talbot ’15 and Fabian Stocek ’17crossed the finish line at 28:44.5 and 28.53.7 for fifth and sixth-place finishes, respectively, helping the Big Green earn 133 points and first place in the event.

The men, Caldwell said, came together as a group and gave a really strong performance.

“It was a great weekend for the team,” Caldwell said. “We were really excited to see our team’s scores coming out well for the championship.”

While the Big Green did not see any athletes on the podium for the women’s 5K free on the same course, the women managed to position the team near the top. Corey Stock ’16 led the women’s Nordic team in the 5K free with a seventh-place finish in 16:28.9. Cara Piske ’18 and Carly Wynn ’15 also scored points for the team with 18th and 24th-place respective finishes. Of the 12 teams competing in the event, Vermont’s Nordic team won the event with 124 points while Dartmouth took fifth with 81 points. Behind Vermont was UNH, who finished second in the event to ensure that they would be competitive with the Big Green in the race to finish in the overall top teams.

On Whiteface Mountain in nearby Wilmington, New York, Saturday, the men’s alpine team came in fourth place in giant slalom with 82 points. Kevyn Read ’18 had a combined time of 2:10.02 for a seventh-place finish, while Dylan Brooks ’17 and Prescott McLaughlin ’17 finished in respective times 2:10.44 and 2:11.27 for 14th and 21st place.

The first-place overall Vermont and third-place overall UNH swept the podium in the women’s giant slalom, taking the top four positions in the race between the two schools. Libby Gibson ’18 led the women’s alpine team in the event with a fifth-place finish off a combined time of 2:12.39. Kelly Moore ’18 and Lizzie Kistler ’16 added to the Big Green’s point total. Moore and Kistler placed seventh and eighth, respectively, with times of 2:12.88 and 2.13.10. Foreste Peterson ’18 recorded the second-fastest time in the first run of the slalom with 1:07.41 and was on track to challenge the Catamounts’ Kristina Riis-Johannessen for first-place finish overall, but the Big Green athlete was unable to complete her second run. Despite the setback, the women remained resilient and earned third place in the event with 107 points behind UVM and UNH.

Some members of the team, Gibson said, faced health issues, which played a part in this past weekend’s performance.

“We had some trouble finding the finish line, but that’s ski racing,” Gibson said. “It is very rare for a team to have as much success as we have had this season.”

The Big Green and UNH ended the first day with 403 points each, while Vermont took an early lead with 487 points and two event wins in women’s giant slalom and the 5K free. The Big Green and the Wildcats each finished the day with one event win, with Dartmouth taking the men’s 10K free and UNH taking the men’s giant slalom. With that in mind, Saturday’s competition was about catching up to the Catamounts and outpacing the Wildcats.

The following day, in the 20K classic, the men’s Nordic squad put on another outstanding performance with two podium finishes. Caldwell continued his dominating performances this season with a first-place finish in 57:27.2. Almost two and a half minutes later, Vermont’s Grav crossed the line at 59:51.2 and managed to place less than a second ahead of Stocek, who joined Caldwell on the podium with the bronze finish. Talbot and Jan Ketterson ’17 also finished in the top seven competitors with times of 1:00:21.2 and 1:00:43.1 to help the team to a first-place finish in the event with 131 points.

“We tried to focus on having back-to-back races that were solid,” men’s Nordic coach Ruff Patterson said. “I think we definitely accomplished that.”

On the women’s side, Stock took fourth place in the 15K classic with a time of 53:47.8. Molly Siegel ’16 completed the course in 56:56.0 to place 20th, and Piske finished in 57:17.3 for 23rd place to give the Big Green a fourth-place finish in the event with 80 points. Middlebury College won the event with 121 points while UNH took second with a score of 112 points.

Back at Lake Placid, the men’s alpine team placed second with 100 points in the slalom race despite a podium sweep by Vermont, who went on to win the event with 141 points. Ben Morse ’14 tied with St. Michael’s College’s Fredrik Sandell for fifth-place with a combined time of 1:52.93 to lead the Big Green. Read completed his two runs in 1:53.08 for eighth place, and Sam Macomber ’16 finished in 1:53.63 to place 12th.

Although the Big Green pulled ahead of the Wildcats, the point disparity between Dartmouth and Vermont increased in the women’s slalom race after the Catamounts placed three skiers atop the podium again. The women’s alpine team had difficulty earning points after Peterson, Moore and Maisie Ide ’16 did not finish their second runs despite posting top times in their first runs. Gibson led the team again with a combined time of 1:56.79 for a tenth-place finish while Kistler placed 16th with a time of 1:57.57. Abigail Fucigna ’15 also scored points with a time of 2:04.17 and a 39th-place finish, helping the team to a fifth-place finish and 68 points overall.

Although most winter sports are concluding their respective seasons in time for finals, the ski team will continue training for the next week in preparation for the NCAA Championships. The Big Green and other teams from the East will have a bit of an advantage as this year’s championship meet will also be held in Lake Placid, the same location as this past weekend’s East Regional Championships.

“We had a challenging weekend,” women’s alpine head coach Chip Knightsaid. “But it was really good to get some time on the hill and start to get comfortable with the surroundings up there.”

The ski team’s coaches faced the difficult decision of narrowing down its list of skiers since only a maximum of three competitors per team may represent an institution, Coach Knight said. Based on qualifying times and overall performances this season, Caldwell, Stocek, Talbot and Stock will represent the men and women’s Nordic teams while Brooks, Morse, Read, Gibson, Kistler and Peterson will compete for the men and women’s alpine teams.

“This season has gone really well,” Caldwell said. “There’s definitely a good confidence booster going in to the NCAAs.”

The skiing NCAA Championships will take place on March 11-14, beginning with the women’s 5K and men’s 10K free on March 11 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg and the men and women’s giant slaloms on March 12 at Whiteface Mountain.