Bartlett and Arvidsson Lead Skiers at NCAAs in Steamboat Springs

By JAKE TURTEL

Last week, the Middlebury Alpine and Nordic ski teams flew across the country to compete in the NCAA Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Caroline Bartlett ’19 and Erik Arvidsson ’21 added exclamation points to Middlebury’s trip out west, earning All-American honors by placing fourth in the giant slalom and slalom, respectively. The team placed eighth overall in a 23-team field, third among eastern schools.

On day one of the Alpine races the Panther women placed fourth in the giant slalom, led by Bartlett. Her first run time of 53.85 was the fastest of the day among all competitors, while her two-run total of 1:53.37 earned her fourth place, good enough to place her on the All-American First Team. Lexi Calcagni ’19 placed 17th out of 34 with a total time of 1:55.23 while teammate Lucia Bailey ’21 capped off her rookie year in the top 20 (20th – 1:55.99).

An All-American nod is an achievement for any athlete, and that did not escape Bartlett. “It feels great to be an All-American and accomplish a goal that I set in freshman year,” said Bartlett, after returning to campus. “I’m proud of where I am and super grateful for my teammates who keep me smiling through it all!”

The men sent two Alpine competitors to Colorado, Riley Plant ’18 and Arvidsson. Plant was 17th after the first run but hit a bump on the course that prevented him, and four other racers, from finishing his second run. Arvidsson, however, completed both legs and placed 11th (1:50.48), making up eight spots after his first run.

The next day the Nordic teams began their racing, starting with the men’s 10K and women’s 5K Classic races. With the races taking place in Colorado, eastern schools such as Middlebury, Williams, and Bates are at a disadvantage due to the altitude.

“NCAAs were at 6000 feet where there is way less oxygen,” said Adam Luban ’18. “It’s a totally different style of skiing and a big challenge to adjust to it, particularly this late in the season. We went out a week early to acclimatize and get used to the slower style of racing out there.”

The women placed all three of their racers in the top 23 (out of 40 racers) with Alexandra Lawson ’21 pacing the group with a time of 16:26.5, good for 18th place (fourth among eastern racers). Just behind her was Katie Feldman ’18 with a time of 16:27 to finish in 19th. Cate Brams ’18 came in 23rd place with a time of 16:34.7.

Sam Wood ’19 was the first Panther on the men’s side to cross the line during the 10K Classic, placing 16th with a time of 29:05.9. Luban ended in 18th (29.15.1), and Peter Wolter ’21 placed 24th (29:37.2). The competition was very stiff, with five of the top-six scoring teams being western schools.

It was in the slalom event on Friday that Arvidsson earned his All-American bid, finding his way to the honor with a time of 1:21.75 and a fourth-place finish. Plant ended his career with a 25th-place finish after a time of 1:26.58. The women did not have as good luck as the first day, as Calcagni was the only racer to complete both runs (25th, 1:25.77).

To cap off their season at nationals, the men’s Nordic team competed the 20K Freestyle, where Luban and Wood flip-flopped positions this time. The former completed the course in 55:28.1 (15th), while the latter finished in 55:29.4 (16th) with Wolter coming in 25th (56:47.6). Among eastern skiers, Luban and Wood finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Head coach of the nordic team, Andrew Johnson, was proud of what his team accomplished this season.

“We achieved many of our goals including qualifying a full nordic team for NCAA’s for the first time since 2006,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way [the team] worked together and pushed each other throughout the fall and winter. Our captains – among others – did a fabulous job of helping build a very team-centric environment in a sport where that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”

As Luban’s career concludes, he looks back with fond memories. “It’s been a hell of a ride I am incredibly proud of the team. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that I got to ski here for five years.”

The women’s 15K Freestyle saw a strong performance from Feldman (13th place, 45:58.2), who placed third among eastern racers. Brams and Lawson also placed in the top 30, finishing in 26th and 29th, respectively. The team finished second among eastern schools, behind only Dartmouth.

Just like Luban, Brams will miss skiing for Middlebury. “I know this is cliché but this team is my family – they’ve picked me up at my lowest, and they’ve pushed me to be better when I’ve been at my best. I just hope I’ve been able to give the same to them.

“It’s been a wild ride, and as stoked as I am to be graduating, I’ll miss the grind with this crew.”

With the end of the season comes retirement for not just Plant, Luban, Brams, and Feldman, but also Jacob Volz ’18 and Evan Weinman ’18 from the Nordic team and Davon Cardamone ’18 and Jack Schibli ’18 from the Alpine squad. The team will surely miss all eight of its seniors.

Plant will remember nothing but the best from his experience on the Middlebury Ski Team, but not necessarily for time on the mountain.

“Skiing for Middlebury has been everything I wanted from a college ski racing experience. The best memories I will carry from these four years will have little to do with actual ski racing, but more to do with the great personalities I got to spend so much time with in crazy storms, crammed van rides, and the cabin basement.”

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Bartlett and Arvidsson Lead Skiers at NCAAs in Steamboat Springs