Nordic Skiing Nets Nice Start

A+Middlebury+skier+races+down+the+mountain+at+the+2017+Middlebury+Carnival%2C+which+the+Panthers+placed+third+out+of+15+teams+in.+
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Nordic Skiing Nets Nice Start

A Middlebury skier races down the mountain at the 2017 Middlebury Carnival, which the Panthers placed third out of 15 teams in.

A Middlebury skier races down the mountain at the 2017 Middlebury Carnival, which the Panthers placed third out of 15 teams in.

Michael O’Hara

A Middlebury skier races down the mountain at the 2017 Middlebury Carnival, which the Panthers placed third out of 15 teams in.

Michael O’Hara

Michael O’Hara

A Middlebury skier races down the mountain at the 2017 Middlebury Carnival, which the Panthers placed third out of 15 teams in.

By ROB ERICKSON

The Middlebury Nordic ski team opened their 2018 campaign at the Colby Carnival this past weekend, with both the men’s and women’s squads managing an impressive showing despite the unfavorable weather that caused Saturday’s races to be cancelled at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine. Skiers competed in the women’s 5K and men’s 10K classical events on Sunday. Thanks to a number of top-ten performances from the Panthers, both Middlebury teams bought home third-place overall finishes. Middlebury’s Alpine skiers will participate in the downhill portion of the Colby Carnival this upcoming weekend, on Saturday, Jan. 20, and Sunday, Jan. 21.

Leading the charge for the women’s side in the 5K race was captain Katie Feldman ’18. Already one of the consistent top finishers from last year’s team, she made good on an offseason of hard work with a career-best sixth-place finish (16:29). Finishing just on her heels was fellow captain Cate Brams ’18 who crossed the finish line 15th overall, just 11 seconds behind her teammate (16:40). Orli Schwartz ’20 rounded out the scoring for the Panther women, grabbing the 19th spot overall with a time of 16:46. Not far behind her was first-year Avery Ellis ’21 with a time of 16:52, just missing the scoring cutoff but still demonstrating the fire and potential that the Panthers look for from their younger athletes.

On the whole, Feldman gave a positive appraisal of the team’s performance on Sunday. “I’d say this weekend was a good start to our season,” she offered. “It was a hectic time between the rain and then the extreme cold [on Sunday]… As a group, I think the team did a really good job adapting to the many changes and being ready to race. Putting three racers in the top ten between men and women and both genders scoring third on the day is a big step in the right direction, and we’re hungry for more.”

In the men’s 10K race, both old and new found their way to the top of the leaderboard for the Panthers. Lewis Nottonson ’19 tied a career-best finish by crossing the line in 28:45, good for sixth place overall. Just two seconds behind Nottonson, Peter Wolter sped to a seventh-place finish (28:47) in his first-ever collegiate race — not an altogether inauspicious beginning for the first-year. The third and final scorer for the Panther men was captain Adam Luban ’18, who was a mainstay on the leaderboards last season. This past Sunday, he crossed the line in 29:12, putting him in 16th for the race.

At the end of the day, the Panther men actually tied with the Colby Mules for third place, having cobbled together 196 cumulative points. However, the Panther women combined for 178 points, enough to secure a 20-point lead over their hosts, who finished in fourth place. Once the two sides were combined, Middlebury’s 374 points gave them sole possession of third place over the Mules. The Panthers finished behind Dartmouth College (486) and the University of Vermont (490) respectively.

As Feldman later noted, this first weekend was hardly just a warmup for the team; with only a limited number of races in the season, the Panthers will be looking to take advantage of every scoring opportunity they have. “Our season is really in full swing,” she said. “These early races are just as important as the later carnivals as there are opportunities for NCAA qualifying points and team carnival points in all six of the carnival weekends.”

Next weekend, the Nordic teams will head up Route 7 to participate in the St. Michael’s Carnival at Sleepy Hollow Ski Center in Hinesburg, Vermont. As mentioned before, the alpine teams will be the ones heading over to Maine, competing in the downhill portion of the Colby Carnival on Sugarloaf Mountain.

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