The Catamounts are killing the slopes

The highly anticipated start to the 2012 Vermont ski season began with the Bates Carnival on Jan. 20-21 and the UNH Carnival on Jan. 27-28. In last year’s season, the Catamounts were highly victorious in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association circuit. During the regular season of 2011, Vermont saw wins at five of their six carnivals, earned its 31st EISA Championship and finished sixth overall for the 2011 NCAA Ski Championships.

With the success of the previous season, the Catamount skiers took to the slopes with high hopes for the Bates Carnival. On the first day of competition, Jan. 20, UVM opened up strong, proving their capabilities in both the Alpine and Nordic divisions. The first win to open up the season went to senior Lucy Garrec in the women’s 5K freestyle at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine with a time of 14:08.4.

In the men’s and women’s Alpine races held at Sunday River in Newry, Maine, the teams earned the first two spots in the giant slalom races. The men’s Alpine team swept the podium. Rookie Bobby Farrell made his ski team debut with the first position and a total two-run time of 2:27.55. Juniors Kevin Drury and Sean Higgins took second and third place to finish up the Vermont sweep.

The women’s Alpine team almost followed suit with the men’s sweep. First-years Kristina Riis-Johannessen and Elli Terwiel finished first and second, respectively. At the end of the first day of competition the Catamounts held a 113-point lead over second place Dartmouth with 531 points.

In the final day of competition on Jan. 21, UVM once again saw victories with three Catamounts reaching the podium in the four races of the day. In the women’s 10K classic race, senior Caitlin Patterson earned her first win of the season with a time of 31:43.8. Teammate Amy Glen took the second spot on the podium.

In the men’s 10K classic, senior Franz Bernstein was on top for UVM skiers with a second place finish and a time of 27:28.5. Teammates senior Fritz Horst and sophomore Scott Patterson, who placed 10th and 13th place, respectively, joined Bernstein.

UVM proved to be the Alpine team to beat in the slalom. The men’s team swept the event with the help of junior Tim Kelley, who earned a total two-run time of 1:44.62.

The women’s slalom race also saw success with Terwiel, who earned her first-ever collegiate win with a time of 1:42.51. While Terwiel positively represented the newcomers on the slopes this season, the team is mostly upperclassmen.

“We have an older team – almost half the team are seniors, which is fun and exciting because the team has really grown together,” assistant Nordic ski coach Andrew Johnson noted.

The Bates Carnival concluded with UVM earning 1,004 points and the No. 1 position – 167 points ahead of second place Dartmouth.

“The win is a good indication for where we can race throughout the season. The goal of ours is to take one weekend at a time. If we break 1,000 points then great, but if we don’t, we just go out and try again next weekend. It is a good sign that we were able to do it our opening weekend,” head Nordic coach Patrick Weaver said, reflecting on the opening carnival.

This carnival win is the second year in a row in which the Catamounts opened the EISA Carnival season with more than 1,000 points.

Over the weekend the Catamounts traveled to Jackson/Attitash, N.H. to compete in the UNH Carnival. The first day of competition, Jan. 27, saw tough weather conditions leading to a cancellation of the Alpine races. Thus, UVM Nordic was left to carry the team.

In the men’s classic sprint race, Dartmouth swept the podium. Senior Alex Howe took fifth place with a time of 3:35.47. In the women’s race, Dartmouth also saw first with Sophie Caldwell narrowly beating UVM’s Patterson.

At the end of day one of the carnival, Dartmouth was in the lead by 55 points over UVM with a score of 274.

Vermont came back from their deficit on the second day of competition, Jan. 28, with a concrete performance.

In the women’s 15K, Dartmouth’s Caldwell earned first, but Patterson followed with second place. The Catamounts placed six skiers in the top-10 of the race.

Dartmouth received the top honor in the men’s 20K freestyle. With a time of 49:06.9, Bernstein was the top Catamount with second place.

The UVM Alpine teams came out for their first time in the carnival with impressive scores. The men’s Alpine team swept the podium in the slalom races. Kelley won the race with a two-run time total of 1:34.59 and the fastest second run of the race. Sophomore Jonathon Nordbotten made his EISA season debut — which followed a 23rd place finish at the World Cup race in Shladming, Austria — with second place. Farrell finished up the sweep with third.

The women’s Alpine team also finished with high marks. Terwiel earned first with the fastest time down the hill in both runs. Terwiel was followed by sophomore Kate Ryley who finished 53 tenths of a second behind.

For the second straight carnival of the year, the Catamounts posted more than 1,000 points and topped Dartmouth by 148 points with 1,021 points. With the solid performances seen in both carnivals, Weaver hopes the start is a reflection of the season.

“I’d like to see the teams finish just as strong as they started,” he said. “If we can achieve that every weekend, then we have a team to be proud of.”