Panther Skiiers Finish Fourth at Home Carnival

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Panther Skiiers Finish Fourth at Home Carnival

Kae Fink '16 prepares for the mass-start race on Sunday, Feb. 28th.
Photo by Michael O'Hara

Kae Fink '16 prepares for the mass-start race on Sunday, Feb. 28th. Photo by Michael O'Hara

Kae Fink '16 prepares for the mass-start race on Sunday, Feb. 28th. Photo by Michael O'Hara

Kae Fink '16 prepares for the mass-start race on Sunday, Feb. 28th. Photo by Michael O'Hara

By Nicole Roos

A handful of podium finishes, including Rob Cone ’17’s first-place finish in the slalom, propelled the Panther ski teams to a fourth place finish in the Middlebury Carnival this past weekend. The EISA Championship races were held at the Snow Bowl on Feb. 26-27 for the Alpine teams, and at Rikert Nordic Center on Feb. 27-28 for the Nordic racers. University of Vermont captured the title with 989 points, followed by Dartmouth (826), University of New Hampshire (749) and the Panthers (710).

The Alpine team kicked off the only home carnival of the season in a big way when Cone won Friday’s slalom race. After five top-ten finishes this season, Cone was able to break through with the win to lead the Panther men. Chris McKenna ’17 and Riley Plant ’18 also contributed to a strong team performance, finishing in 15th and 16th places. The women’s team placed three racers in the top-20 to add more points to the team score. First-year racer Lexi Calcagni ’19 paced the group in 15th place, while Caroline Bartlett ’19 and Elle Gilbert ’16 finished in a tie for 16th place.

Cone continued his excellent skiing on

the second day of racing, finishing second overall in the giant slalom after finishing with the fast first run. With his first and second place finishes, Cone earned EISA skier of the week honors. Plant tied his best effort of the carnival season with a sixth place finish, and Christoph Niederhauser ’16 finished out his successful career on the Middlebury Ski Team with a 31st place effort. The women’s team earned their best finish of the season, placing three racers in the top-12. Calcagni, in her best performance yet, placed fourth, and the duo of Gilbert and Bartlett were close behind in 11th and 12th places, respectively.

“I was thrilled with the performance by the girls in the GS,” Head Alpine Coach Stever Bartlett recounts. “Lexi pulled out a clutch performance to gain qualification to the NCAA Championships, and despite big mistakes by Elle and Caroline in the first run they were able to battle back for the best one-day team score of the season for the women.”

Nordic action also kicked off on Saturday, with the women’s 5K free race and the men’s 10K freestyle. Annie Pokorny ’16 earned her second-straight win with a time nearly nine seconds faster than the next opponent.

“Going into Saturday’s race, I knew that I would have the skis and the fitness to win, so long as I could put together the technical details in between,” Pokorny said. “We had a huge cheer squad at the start and finish line, which really gave me the energy to push through the hills, navigate the descents and send it all the way to the line.”

Kaitlin Fink ’16 tied her best finish of the year placing 13th, and just one second behind her was Cate Brams ’18 with a season-best 15th place finish. Patrick McElravey ’17 returned to action on Saturday for the men, finishing a team-best 19th. Lewis Nottonson ’19 was next for the Panthers in 22nd place, followed by Jacob Volz ’18, who finished in 26th.

The Nordic team concluded carnival action on Sunday, competing in the 15K and 20K classic races. Pokorny once again led the women’s team, finishing in sixth place. Brams was next for the women, finishing in 14th, while Katie Feldman ’18 rounded out the scoring in 27th place. On the men’s side, McElravey led the Panthers in 15th place, while Sam Wood ’19 and Volz finished up in 22nd and 26th.

Middlebury is now off until the NCAA Championships held from March 9-12 in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Both the Alpine

and Nordic teams are sending multiple athletes and have high expectations.

“It is a ski race so anything can happen, but I am confident that the guys and girls will put forward great performances,” Stever said. “They have all worked hard and we will take care of the variables we can control, and then just ski as fast as possible.”

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Panther Skiiers Finish Fourth at Home Carnival