The Alpine Ski Team opened up their season last weekend at Sugarloaf Mountain in Carabassett, Maine. High winds cancelled the first day of the Colby Carnival, but the Panthers got on the mountain this past Sunday.
The women’s side finished in a tie for first place with Dartmouth, finishing with 226 points in the Giant Slalom. Leading the way was Caroline Bartlett ’19 who posted a day-best 1:00.81 in her first run. Bartlett followed that performance by crossing the line at 1:03.5, giving her a second-place finish on the day. The other top-10 finishers for the Panthers was Jackie Atkins ’20, who finished in 2:07.15 overall, good for sixth place. Lexi Calcagni ’19 was just behind at 11th place with a 2:08.16 time.
Calcagni noted the terrain was tough because of some wind and ice but, all in all, the team was glad to start the season off on such a high note.
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to the season on the women’s side,” said Cacagni.
With 130 points in the giant slalom, the men’s squad finished the day in sixth place. Riley Plant ’18 was the first Middlebury man to finish. His two-run time of 2:03.62 placed him 16th.
Davon Cardamone ’18 and Justin Alkier ’21 were the second and third Panthers to cross the finish line, posting times of 2:03.77 and 2:05.97. While the men’s side did not achieve their hoped-for results, the season is young.
Plant talked about how Sugarloaf poses challenges.
“[Sugarloaf is] one of the most difficult hills we compete on,” said Plant. But the Panthers viewed the challenge as an opportunity to improve.
“During inspection and minimizing preventable mistakes during our race runs” is especially where the team can focus on getting sharper, said Plant. “We can achieve that by relaxing pre-race; this will be easier now that the first-race-jitters are out of the system. With the slalom race postponed to next weekend, we’ll make sure to hammer the slalom training this week in preparation for the St. Mike’s Carnival.”
On the Nordic side, Cate Brams ’18 backed up the high expectations for her this season. Brams crossed the line second in the women’s 5K Classic with a time of 13:15.85, a career best, on the first day of the St. Michael’s Carnival in Hinesburg, Vermont.
Katie Feldman ’18 placed sixth for the second consecutive week after completing the course in 13:46.25. Sophia Hodge ’20 had the best placement of her young Middlebury career, crossing 23rd in 14:20.84. Overall, the women’s team registered 103 points to come in third.
Meanwhile, the men’s side racked up 103 points — also good for third place.
Evan Weinman ’18 paced the Panthers with a 24:58.03 in the 10K Classic, placing fifth individually. Two spots behind Weinman was Peter Wolter ’21, with a time of 24:59.24. Adam Luban ’18 and Sam Wood ’19 placed 20th and 21st, with times of 25:52.07 and 25:53.41.
Day 2 opened with the women’s 10K Freestyle, where Brams once again led the Panthers by crossing the finish line in 29:56.3 for seventh place. Annika Landis ’20 was the other Middlebury athlete to place in the top-20, as she finished 19th by crossing the line at 30:34.1. The women’s squad once again collectively captured the bronze, this time with 81 points.
“It was great to see us build on what we put together at Colby, and it gives us a lot of confidence in the work that we’ve put in all year,” Brams said after last weekend’s competition. “We were so excited about what the men’s team put together — great to see a huge team win. On the women’s side, we have a pretty young team that is still adjusting to college racing, and I’m incredibly proud of their confidence and drive this weekend. We’re all excited and hungry for more.”
The men’s squad also surged forward as they won the 15K Freestyle event with 123 points. This was their first on-day win since 2009.
This time Wolter led the pack, continuing his hot start from the previous day. He earned his best-ever finish with a second-place tally by crossing at 38:31.7.
Three other Panthers finished in the top-ten: Lewis Nottonson ’19 (fifth, 38:47.9), Wood (sixth, 38:56.2) and Luban (ninth, 39:19.2). Nottonson and Wood also garnered their best finishes of their respective careers, while Luban tied his career-best finish.
“Saturday’s course was highlighted by a long gradual downhill section on the front of the course and a gradual climb back up towards the stadium,” Nottonson said, describing the layout of the course. “Sunday used a partially overlapped lower loop that extended another kilometer downhill from the previous day’s course and had an additional switchback climb added onto the upper end of the course.”
The Nordic squad will be back in action on Feb. 2nd at the Vermont Carnival in Stowe, Vermont, while the Alpine team is in action this weekend in Jeffersonville, Vermont, at Smuggler’s Notch, where they will take part in the St. Michael’s Carnival.