Panther Skiers Place Third at Winter Carnival

The ski teams took advantage of familiar snow at the Middlebury Winter Carnival, held at the Snow Bowl on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14. The Panthers took third place overall, beating out UNH for the second time this season and nearly topping old rival Dartmouth as well. (Campus/O'Hara)

The ski teams took advantage of familiar snow at the Middlebury Winter Carnival, held at the Snow Bowl on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14. The Panthers took third place overall, beating out UNH for the second time this season and nearly topping old rival Dartmouth as well. (Campus/O'Hara)

By Colin McIntyre

At the annual winter carnival, the ski teams put together a strong showing to finish third (783) behind carnival winners UVM (931) and runners up Dartmouth (788). Middlebury missed out on second place by only 5 points and beat fourth place UNH by 10 points in a crowded field.

The weekend races included Heather Mooney ’15 leading the women’s nordic team to team and individual wins in the 10K classic and the alpine women winning their first event of the season in the giant slalom on Saturday, February 14th.

In the alpine races at the Snow Bowl, the women placed fifth in slalom on Friday, February 13th. Mary Sackbauer ’15 led the team with a sixth place time of 1:42.99, followed by Katy Greene ’17 (1:46.43) in 16th and Elle Gilbert ’16 (1:46.51) in 19th.

The women fared much better on Saturday. Katelyn Barclay ’15 led a group of three Middlebury skiers in the top five with a third place time of 2:13.14. Her teammates Sackbauer (2:13.88) and Gilbert (2:14.00) came in directly behind her, leading to the Panther win. Barclay finished over two seconds behind the event winner. The three women were in second, third and fourth place after the first run, but a strong second run by Dartmouth’s Foreste Peterson pushed her into second ahead of the consistent Panther women.

In the men’s races on Friday, the team skied to a third place finish behind UVM and UNH. They also turned in their highest point total in a slalom event this season. Rob Cone ’17 (1:31.37), Colin Hayes ’17 (1:33.00) and Christopher McKenna ’17 (1:33.08) all scored for the Panthers, who finished with 109 points in the event. Cone sat in second place after the first run and turned in a third-best time on the second run. UNH’s Coley Oliver managed to jump Cone for the win by half a second after a blistering second run. Hayes, who sat in 26th after the first run challenged Oliver’s winning second run, coming in second only two tenths of a second back, launching him into the top ten. Middlebury’s McKenna placed 12th.

In the giant slalom on Saturday, Cone led after the first run then slipped back into third overall with a time of 2:09.60, a second behind the winner. Teammates McKenna and Riley Plant ’18 completed the strong overall showing with fifth and sixth place finishes of 2:09.71 and 2:09.86, respectively. Middlebury lost the GS event to UVM by a single point.

In the nordic events, the women continued the dominant momentum that they have established throughout the season. In the classic events on Friday, Mooney won the women’s 10K by 10 seconds with a time of 31:01.2. Stella Holt ’15 came in sixth (32:06.1) and Nicolette Amber ’16 finished 14th (33:26.4). It was Mooney’s third straight win, and Holt’s third top 10 of the season in classic events. The women won the event by ten points over second place Bates.
“There is definitely a home course advantage for both nordic and alpine races,” Holt said. “On the nordic side we are able to train every day on the exact same course we race on for our home carnival.”

On Saturday in the skate race, Middlebury placed third behind UVM and UNH. Mooney placed second on the day, finishing the 5K in 16:11.2, three seconds back. Holt took 15th with a time of 17:13.9, and Amber took 19th in 17:20.7.

The men placed sixth on Friday in the classic races, and seventh on Saturday in the skate. Patrick McElravey ’17 led the team with a 13th place finish in 27:10.7. Adam Luban ’17 came in 17th  with a time of 27:32.3, and Evan Weinman ’18 (27:52) placed 25th. On Saturday, McElravey slid into the top ten with a seventh place 26:20.1. Luban finished tied for 23rd with a time of 27:12.8, and Jacob Volz ’18 came in in 29:30.6, good for 50th place.

Holt looked forward to the last carnival, saying, “We know we are capable of winning a day and even a weekend as a women’s team as we have done it on multiple occasions throughout this season.”

Next week, the ski teams are off, but head up to the St. Lawrence carnival in Lake Placid, NY for the EISA championships the week after. The carnival serves as the penultimate race before the NCAA championships, which will also be hosted by St. Lawrence.

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