Ryley 'old schools' Vermont to lead at EISA Championships
The University of Vermont assumed its familiar position atop the rankings after the first day of the joint EISA Championships and Middlebury Carnival today (Feb. 24), contested under the threat of severe snowfall that failed to materialize in any challenging capacity. On the strength of its nordic team victories and individual alpine podiums, Vermont is currently in the lead with 473 points followed by Dartmouth with 429 points and Middlebury with 366 points.
The nordic races were held over an hour away from Middlebury at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, a venue that has served as home to the EISA for three weekends of racing during this low snow winter. Middlebury's Patrick Johnson claimed a convincing win in the men's 10k freestyle followed by Vermont's Franz Bernstein in second and Dartmouth's Sam Tarling in third. The Big Green's Eric Packer is still in Turkey at the U23 World Championships, and his absence certainly factored into Vermont's ability to take the team win for the day. Caitlin Patterson found her jets in the 5k freestyle--a shorter race than her preferred distance--to claim the win for Vermont. Catamount teammate Lucy Garrec was second, and Dartmouth's Sophie Caldwell was third. Vermont also claimed the team win for the women's nordic race.
The alpine races were plagued by lift failures which forced several athletes to hike the hill for their runs, reminiscent of the slalom days of yore. In the men's race, Vermont's Jonathan Nordbotten finally scored his much anticipated slalom victory on the EISA circuit. He commented, "I've had really good training the past few days and last week, so this is just pay back for that." Nordbotten was followed by Tim Kelley of UVM in second and New Hampshire's Taylor Vest-Burton in third. Vest-Burton was supported by his Wildcat teammates Coley Oliver in fourth and Paul Atkinson in fifth.
Vermont's Kate Ryley claimed another win in the women's slalom utilizing an uncharacteristic number of "old school" inside hand clears on her way to the finish line. She remarked, "My old schooling three gates in the middle of the course was probably from my hand injury [earlier in the season], but I almost never shin gates. I'm working on creating pressure above and that's given me too much room, so maybe I can tighten it up more and go faster." Despite this unorthodox technique on the collegiate circuit, her tactical line proved to be over a second faster than Dartmouth's Annie Rendall who finished second. New Hampshire's Catherine Blanchard was third.
The EISA Championships conclude tomorrow with the giant slalom races at the Middlebury Snow Bowl in Hancock and the women's 15k and men's 20k classic mass start events at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.
Team scores at the conclusion of the first day of EISA Championships/Middlebury Carnival:
Vermont - 473
Dartmouth - 429
Middlebury - 366
New Hampshire - 362
Williams - 283.5
Colby - 255
St. Lawrence - 246.5
Bates - 244
Harvard - 152
St. Michael's - 149
Bowdoin - 91
Plymouth State - 75
Maine Presque Isle - 59
Boston College - 57
Colby-Sawyer - 28
Photo of race winner Kate Ryley by C.J. Feehan