Dartmouth skiing wins back-to-back Carnivals

by Max Kanefield | 2/8/16 6:30pm

The Big Green ski team continued its hot streak, beating out their host University of Vermont to capture a win at the two-weekend UVM Carnival event. The team continued its consistency across disciplines and was bolstered by the return of 2015 NCAA Freestyle champion Patrick Caldwell ’17 along with another strong freshman performance. The team, held from a first place finish in carnival season over the past three years, has now netted back to back first place finishes in their last two carnivals.

“Everyone was so so excited and happy,” Nordic women’s captain Mary O’Connel ’16 said. “I haven’t seen that kind of reaction from our team in a while. It was nice that we went into the weekend with a lead thanks to our Alpine team, and then we kept that for them.”

The UVM Carnival, unlike most Carnival competitions, was spread across two weekends. The Big Green ended the first weekend with a solid lead thanks to strong performances from the Alpine teams. With a second half of races to go, a winning effort during the first half of the Carnival seemed to prime the team for the second half of the event schedule.

“Seeing the first weekend results, it was a huge motivator,” Nordic captain Oscar Friedman ’16 said. “The Alpine team came out thirty points on top, which gave us the motivation and told us that we needed to step up and keep that lead.”

The men’s Nordic team managed its strongest performance of the season so far, with contributions from Caldwell, who has spent the winter with the United States National team but was on hand for the Eastern Cup series, allowing him to race with the Dartmouth team. In the 10K freestyle, Caldwell blew by the collegiate field with a time 50 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. Friedman joined Caldwell on the podium with a career-best third place finish, and Fabian Stocek ’17 ensured the teams dominance in the discipline with a fourth place finish.

It seems that each weekend, the team is building on its past performance in all areas. The team seems cognizant of their momentum, gaining confidence with each passing carnival and each improving performance.

“We’ve just been slowly improving as the season goes on,” Lydia Blanchet ’19 said. “The first couple carnivals we were kind of nipping at UVM’s heels, but they got us. Then we just barely got them last weekend. We’ve just been gaining momentum all year. Seeing our Alpine skiers crush it, we came into the second weekend with a lot of excitement and energy. Every race has kind of built on itself.”

The development of the freshmen has played a huge role in the team’s progress over the course of the season. In the Colby Carnival two weeks ago, it was freshman racer Taryn Hunt-Smith ’19 who placed fourth in a race to help the team emerge victorious at the Colby Carnival in late January. This time, it was fellow freshman Blanchet’s turn to help spur the Big Green to a win. Blanchet earned her first collegiate victory with a 11:54.2 in the 5K Freestyle event and helping the women’s Nordic team outpace competitors by a wide margin.

“I had no idea that I was going to be able to do that coming into the weekend,” Blanchet said. “Before the race I was warming up, and I felt really good — better than I had felt in a really long time. Its definitely a big confidence boost for me to know that I can compete at the collegiate level.”

The team now turns its attention to the Dartmouth Carnival set for Winter Carnival weekend. The Alpine team is scheduled to race at the Dartmouth Skiway on Saturday and Sunday. Due to deteriorating snow conditions, the Nordic team will race at Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsburg, Vermont.