Optimistic for season success, skiing searches for winning formula

by Marjorie Chelius | 11/29/09 11:00pm

Despite heavy snowfall, the Dartmouth men's and women's ski teams finished second out of 12 teams in the Colby Carnival this past weekend. The University of Vermont won the carnival with 991 points, the Big Green took second with 867 points and the University of New Hampshire finished third with 696 points.

The carnival held in Carrabassett, Maine played host to severe weather conditions on both Friday and Saturday, with some skiers experiencing white-outs while going down the slopes.

"The conditions were very tricky, it was snowing very hard and I think for some people that was tough," coach Cami Thompson said, noting that such weather conditions are unusual.

The teams were able to perform well, however, and the carnival included a number of outstanding individual performances.

The Dartmouth men's cross-country squad led by its top trio of Eric Packer '12, Nils Koons '11 and Sam Tarling '13 took two spots in the 3x5 kilometer freestyle relay. The Big Green's top team finished with a time of 51:34.4 10 seconds ahead of UVM while its second trio finished third, with a time of 52:23.4.

The Big Green also placed well in the men's 10-kilometer event, as Koons won the race with a time of 31:27.6. UVM junior Franz Bernstein took second place, but Dartmouth maintained a strong team showing. Big Green skier Eric Packer '12 finished in third place with a time of 31:49.2 and Sam Tarling '13 finishing in fourth with a time of 31:53.2.

On the Alpine slopes, Trevor Leafe '12 finished fifth in the slalom with a final time of 1:20.72. Leafe was followed by Evan Diamond '13, who finished in 11th place with a time of 1:21.13. Peter Ankeny '12 rounded out the top 15 with a time of 1:21.36.

In spite of the team's second place finish, men's team members said they were disappointed with the Big Green's result.

"We had some good individual performances," Luke McLaughry '12 said. "But the men's Alpine team struggled on the whole."

Athough the team has been training hard, it did not perform to its full potential over the weekend, McLaughry said. He also emphasized the increased difficulty of the courses due to the severe weather.

"There was a really dense fog during the giant slalom race, which only made it more difficult for our athletes," McLaughry said.

The Big Green women's cross-country squad led by Rose Brennan '11, Stephanie Crocker '12 and Erika Flowers '12 also won the 3x5 kilometer freestyle relay, completing the race in a time of 1:08:23.6. Like the men's relay, it was a particularly exciting finish, with the Big Green team crossing just 0.9 seconds ahead of UNH. The race was very competitive, and less than three seconds separated the first through sixth place finishers.

Crocker also finished the women's 10-kilometer classic in third place, in a time of 40:23.3. Flowers finished in 13th place in the race, and Brennan followed not far behind in 15th place.

UVM took first through third in the women's slalom, but Dartmouth was able to secure both fourth and fifth places. Courtney Hammond '11 led the Big Green with a fourth place finish and combined time of 1:28.27, including the event's second-fastest time of the day in her first run. Annie Rendall '13 finished right behind her in fifth place, and was only 0.01 seconds off Hammond's mark with a time of 1:28.28. Kelsey Roddick '11 rounded out the Big Green's top-10 finishers with a tie for ninth place, in a time of 1:29.49.

The men's and women's Nordic teams performed well, contributing a large portion of the points that propelled the Big Green into second place.

Erin Fucigna '12 said that the Nordic team was happy with its result, adding that it was a significant improvement from last week's performance, when the team was defeated by UVM at the St. Lawrence Carnival its first carnival loss in nearly three years. The Catamounts snapped Dartmouth's 15 straight Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Carnival win streak.

Thompson agreed with Fucigna, calling the loss to UVM a "tough start."

Fucigna noted, however, that the women's team could have improved on this carnival finish.

"We needed to work on bringing the same intensity to the second run, and not let the conditions affect us as much," Fucigna said.

The team is generally optimistic for the upcoming season and is setting lofty but realistic goals. The women hope to qualify three athletes for the NCAA championships and to have three athletes chosen as All-Americans. The men's team wants to bring its entire team to the NCAA championships.

The Big Green also hopes not to lose another carnival this season, and McLaughry said that it "fully expects to win carnivals in the future."

"The team looks really good," he said. "A lot of the guys have been skiing really well in training and it's just a matter of time before we put it together in a race."

Fucigna said the team has a lot of potential that it must capitalize on, noting that the team should be able to get "on the podium" this season.

The women's team has had two key athletes unable to compete for two weeks now Sophie Caldwell '12 has been out with an illness and her sister, Isabel Caldwell '14, has been in Estonia, competing in the World Junior Championships. Thompson said she is looking forward to the full team reuniting.

"We have a very strong team, we just need to get healthy and well," said Thompson. "The next carnival is two weeks away and I think the team will be much stronger by then."

The ski team will host the Dartmouth Winter Carnival on Feb. 11-12, an event in which it traditionally performs well, according to Thompson.

The team will next hit the slopes in Stowe, Vt., for the UVM Carnival on Feb. 4-5.