Skiers Take Third at Bates Carnival in Season Opener

By Colin McIntyre

The ski teams combined to finish third at the season-opening Bates carnival over the weekend behind winner UVM and runner up Dartmouth. On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 16 and 17, the alpine teams raced at Sunday River, while the nordic teams competed at Black Mountain.

In the men’s giant slalom competition on Friday, Rob Cone ’17, fresh off a stint on the US national team, won the day with Christopher McKenna ’17 a second behind in third place. Ghassan Gedeon-Achi ’16 finished 13th to complete the men’s GS victory for Middlebury. Cone won the first run by .4 seconds over McKenna, who himself was .75 seconds clear of the next finisher. On the second run, Cone placed third to win the race overall, and McKenna finished 13th, 1.5 seconds back of the run winner, William St-Germain of UVM who edged him for second place overall.

“I was excited for the conditions throughout the weekend,” Cone said.  “Although temperatures were low or negative, they allowed a great hard, icy snow surface, which all of us enjoy…Otherwise, the sun was up, I kept it simple, skied how I knew I could, and had fun.”

The women’s alpine team tied with host Bates for fifth in GS, led by Mary Sackbauer ’15 who finished 11th. Kara Shaw ’15 and Elle Gilbert ’16 finished 24th and 25th, respectively. In Slalom on Saturday, Sackbauer notched a top 10 finish, placing 9th with a combined time of 1:51.20. Shaw placed 18th (1:52.68) and Gilbert 22nd (1:53.66). This performance again gave the women 74 points on the day, good for a 6th place finish in Slalom and overall.

The men placed second in their slalom race. Cone again paced the team, making up a large chunk of time on his second run to come in second place, 0.03 seconds back. McKenna came in 12th place, and Colin Hayes ’17 came in 18th.

On Saturday, the nordic teams competed in their classic races. In the women’s 15K classic, Heather Mooney ’15 finished strong to win the race with a time of 49:33.7, five seconds clear at the top. Kelsey Phinney ’16 finished 9th (50:02.7), with Stella Holt ’15 rounding out the top 10 with a time of 50:11.3. Middlebury, however, lost out to UVM, and finished second.

The men finished 7th in their 20K classic race on Saturday, with the three scoring members of the Panther squad coming in close to each other. Patrick McElravey ’17 came in 27th with a time of 1:02:42.6, Adam Luban ’17 (1:02:48.1) came 28th, and Evan Weinman ’18 (1:02:50.3) came 30th.

On Saturday, the women skied a 5K skate race. Middlebury won the event, and all three racers placed in the top 10 for the second consecutive day. Mooney again won the race in 13:52.

“Historically I’m a better classic skier, so it was huge for me to win in the skate race too,” Mooney said. “It was a great weekend for the women’s team especially. One of our goals was to win a carnival weekend, and we did that, in the first one!”

Mooney was not alone in her success. Middlebury was able to dominate the skate race, with Phinney coming in 5th, 30 seconds behind Mooney, and Holt coming in 10th, 52 seconds back. The Panther women won the skate race overall, and edged UVM and Dartmouth over both days.

The men also improved in the skate race, finishing fifth. Luban lead the team with his first top 10, finishing 9th with a time of 24:55.4, 1:38 behind the winner. McElravey finished 14th in 25:13.2. Jack Steele ’16 came in 30th with a time of 26:21:8.

“It’s always a relief getting the first weekend out of the way, knowing where we all stand, and in this case, we’re stacking up very well in the east,” Mooney said.
Next weekend, the EISA carnival circuit heads north to UVM for their winter carnival with races to be held at Stowe.

Cone is excited for the week to come.

“We have a great group of athletes that are pushing each other and building strength every day of training at the Snow Bowl,” he said.  “This week, we’ll continue with our preparations as we look forward to Stowe.”