Ski team earns first carnival win in almost four years

by Max Kanefield | 1/26/16 7:30pm

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The ski team has begun its season by taking first and second place in two carnivals.

The Big Green ski team earned its first carnival win of the season — the first in almost four years — this past weekend in nail-biting fashion, edging out the University of Vermont and the University of New Hampshire to capture the Colby Carnival at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine. Dartmouth bested Vermont by four points to break the Catamounts streak of 20 straight carnival wins.

“Well it felt great,” Nordic captain Oscar Friedman ’16 said. “I’m a senior, but I have never been at a carnival where we’ve won. So that was really surreal and it was truly incredible.”

Leading up to one of the closest finishes in recent carnival memory, the team was not sure they would win until they were packing up to head home. Despite a lead after Saturday, the Big Green overcame a strong push by Vermont skiers to hold on for their first win of the season.

“I kind of assumed that we might not have pulled it out,” Nordic women’s captain Mary O’Connell ’16 said. “The UVM men’s team did really well [on Sunday] — they went one and two — and so I didn’t think we had it. We looked it up before we left the venue and saw that we won by four points. We really wanted this going into the weekend and especially going into [Sunday] with the lead. We were psyched to prove that we could do it and we were psyched going into the day, and we were excited that it all fell into place among all four teams.”

Dartmouth’s ski team was led by strong results from the women’s Alpine team, whose wins in the slalom and giant slalom events made up the margin of victory for the Big Green. Alexa Dlouhy ’19 led the way with a dominant performance on the event’s first day, posting the fastest competition time on both of her runs in women’s slalom to capture first place overall. Right behind her was Maisie Ide ’16, who took second place in the event to cement Dartmouth’s advantage in Alpine. Foreste Peterson ’18 also earned a first place finish in the giant slalom event on Friday with a total time of 2:04.96. It was a dominant effort from the women’s Alpine team, and the rest of Dartmouth skiing took notice.

“I have to say the credit should mostly go to the Alpine teams, especially the Alpine [women’s] team,” Friedman said. “We’ve got an interesting sport because Alpine and Nordic are very different. But when you have one group that’s really a standout, that brings the level of the whole ski team up, so we’re really grateful to have our women’s Alpine team skiing strongly at this point.”

The team built on its opening performance at Bates Carnival from Jan. 15, where a narrow loss to UVM set the stage for this past weekend’s historic victory. In the collegiate season opener, the women’s teams poured in strong showings across the disciplines. The women’s team was bolstered by strong races from two freshmen who managed to score in their first carnival event. Taryn Hunt-Smith ’19 and Emily Hyde ’19 finished sixth and eighth to help the Big Green to 120 points and a first place finish in the women’s classic sprint event at Bates.

At the Colby Carnival this past weekend, Hyde took eighth in the 15K classic and fifth in the team sprint with teammate Zoe Snow ’18. Hunt-Smith took fourth in the team sprint with teammate Lydia Blanchet ’19 and eleventh in the 15K classic.

“Coming into Dartmouth, everyone was really excited about the energy and the level of competition the freshmen were bringing, so it was cool to see that pay off,” Hunt-Smith said. “It’s nice to have a position on the race team and be able to score points for my team.”

The Big Green ski team is beginning to hit a stride where all four of its groups — the women and men’s team in Alpine and Nordic disciplines — are scoring well in concert, leaving hope that the team will challenge for more carnival wins in the future.

“I feel like over the past two years, lots of different teams were doing well but there’s always been one team that’s a little bit not there — holding us back from that win,” O’Connell said. “So to have all four teams do it, and knowing our Alpine team had done it, we knew that we could do it to.”

The Big Green will head to Vermont next weekend for the UVM Carnival at the Mount Mansfield Ski Club in Stowe, Vermont in search of its second victory of the season.