Skiing finishes second behind UVM at Dartmouth Carnival

by Max Kanefield | 2/15/16 7:39pm

The Big Green used a strong, late showing at the Dartmouth Carnival to push past the University of New Hampshire and secure a second place finish behind the University of Vermont at last weekend’s 106th Dartmouth Winter Carnival. Dartmouth recorded team wins in the men’s slalom and in the women’s 15K Classic.

The ski team entered Winter Carnival as hot as it has been in the last four years. The Big Green broke the University of Vermont’s 20-carnival win streak at the Colby Carnival earlier this season in a close battle before picking up second consecutive victory at the UVM Carnival. This weekend, the team fell just short of extending their win streak. After day one, the team sat in third behind both UVM and UNH.

“I’d say we definitely wanted to win for our home weekend, so it was tough,” said Mary O’Connell ’16, captain of the women’s Nordic team. “But as far as the Nordic side of the events, we were pretty pleased — both the girls and boys had strong performances.

O’Connell said that the women had three skiers finish in the top 10, which was more than any other competing team, and that the men also performed really well. O’Connell noted that the team recorded good performances despite interesting conditions.

It would be hard for O’Connell to overstate just how cold mountain conditions were for the Carnival races. O’Connell said that the Carnival had a cancellation threshold of negative four degrees. With a forecast predicting worse temperatures than that, race organizers moved the races earlier in the day to avoid steadily dropping temperatures during the day because freezing temperatures can hamper skiers’ lungs. With the temperature hovering around zero for the starting race, O’Connell and the rest of the Dartmouth skiers tried to put the cold out of their minds.

“It was really really cold, right at the limit of needing to cancel the races for safety purposes,” O’Connell said. “But it made for an interesting, fun day of racing. I didn’t notice it during the race, it more just changed your preparation before the race, because you didn’t want to be to cold during the race. But once they say go, I just kind of forget that its cold, and my heads in the race. Because its something everyone is dealing with, the best racers have that in mind, so they don’t let it affect them.”

With frigid conditions, the Big Green looked to home crowd to fire them up. The Dartmouth Carnival attracts the biggest home crowd and often brings the families of racers to the course, which helped motivate them through the difficult conditions. Hannah Melinchuk ’19, placed 10th in the women’s giant slalom to lead the team to a third place finish.

“We don’t usually have a lot of people out there watching us, so to have a big group of people at the finish line was really cool — especially in front of a home crowd,” Melinchuk said. “It really energized me, looking down from the start and knowing there were going to be a bunch of people watching from the bottom. Crossing the finish line, knowing that I had a great run and hearing everyone cheering, and coming down into first place was a really cool experience.”

For the men’s Nordic team, the duo of Fabian Stocek ’17 and Oscar Friedman ’16, with third and sixth place finishes respectively in the men’s 20K Classic, guided the team to a narrow second place finish over the weekend.

“The 20K race is really where racers endurance matters the most,” Friedman said. “At this point in the season your success is determined by the training that you put in off time before race season gets started. I’ve been able to train basically year round and spent summers training up here [at Dartmouth], and I’m happy I have been able to turn in some good finishes so far this year as a result.”

Reigning NCAA Champion in the 10K Freestyle Patrick Caldwell ’17 participated in his second carnival of the season, posting a 10th place finish in the 20K. EISA ranks Stocek, Friedman and Caldwell as the third, fourth and fifth free technique skiers in the league.

The team now turns its attention to the Williams Carnival next weekend, which will be its last before the Middlebury Carnival, which will also serve as this season’s EISA Regional Championships and NCAA East Regional Championship, at Middlebury College.