Vermont wins EISA Championship, eyes NCAA title
Under steady snowfall and gusting winds, the University of Vermont claimed its second consecutive and 32nd EISA Championship in the program's history on Saturday (Feb. 25) with alpine victories by its two Toronto natives and a win in the women's nordic race. Vermont led the charge totaling 955 points followed by Dartmouth with 848 points. Middlebury and New Hampshire, who have battled all season long for the coveted third place result at carnivals, tied with 724.5 points.
Vermont's Kevin Drury of Toronto, Canada charged into the lead in the men's giant slalom after the first run and held onto the victory with a steady performance in the second. It was his first win of the season and second straight EISA giant slalom title. Drury remarked, "In training this week, I started focusing on the basics again to get some consistency down. On the bottom of the course, I knew it was bumpy from watching the girls, so I was trying to be really smooth and let my skis run. The last couple races, I've lost my ski, so I just wanted to be smooth over those bumps." Graham Scott of St. Lawrence, whose previous best result had been a ninth place finish, barrel rolled from the 20th starting position into second overall. He won the second run, punched his ticket to NCAA Championships, and turned out the best performance for a St. Lawrence male alpine athlete in over a decade. Vermont's Jonathan Nordbotten was third.
Kate Ryley, also of UVM and born and bred in Toronto, won her second race of the weekend in the women's giant slalom. She overtook first run winner and her teammate, Kristina Riis-Johannessen, who finished second overall. New Hampshire's Jenna Kantor has been knocking on the door of the giant slalom podium all season, and she finally secured her much earned third place result after winning the second run.
The classic races at the Trapp Family Lodge were downright brutal for all competitors with heavy snowfall and wind plaguing best efforts. On the challenging conditions, Vermont's Caitlin Patterson noted, "It was snowing an inch per hour throughout both Nordic races, with serious wind blowing snow into the tracks and in the stadium, and the times were some of the slowest I've ever seen for a 15k and 20k. I heard that the temperature dropped just as the women were starting, so there was no time to adjust wax even if we had realized the change. While a few people managed to have pretty good skis, many of us out there had problems with icing on the uphills and dragging skis on the downhills."
Despite the weather, Vermont managed to claim two podium slots in the women's 15k classic with Lucy Garrec's win and Amy Glen's third place finish. Dartmouth's Sophie Caldwell was second. In the men's 20k, Patrick Johnson of Middlebury secured his second EISA title of the weekend with the victory. Dartmouth's Gordon Vermeer and David Sinclair finished second and third, respectively.
Coaches at several programs, including Vermont, Middlebury, and the University of New Hampshire, now face the tough call of selecting three of their qualified skiers to compete in each event at the NCAA Skiing Championships in Bozeman, Mont. to be held March 7-10. Official team rosters nationwide will be confirmed by Monday (Feb. 27).
Team scores at the conclusion of the EISA Championships/Middlebury Carnival:
Vermont - 955
Dartmouth - 848
Middlebury - 724.5
New Hampshire - 724.5
Williams - 539.5
St. Lawrence -518.5
Colby - 502
Bates - 488
Harvard - 313.5
St. Michael's - 295.5
Bowdoin - 183
Maine Presque Isle - 131
Plymouth State - 128
Boston College - 111
Colby-Sawyer - 70
Clarkson - 19
Photo of 2012 EISA Champions UVM Skiing by C.J. Feehan