One week after its dominant display in Vermont, UNH skiing traveled to Dartmouth College and once again proved themselves amongst a talented league. While there was no shortage of effort, a combination of harsh weather conditions and unexpected competition made things difficult for the Wildcats.
UNH was bested by a determined Middlebury squad that swept third place from beneath the ‘Cats feet. Despite struggling in the cross-country events, Middlebury dominated the alpine charts. One first-place finish in the grand slalom and several top-10 performances in the men’s slalom stood out as determinant factors in Middlebury’s success.
When asked what contributed to Middlebury’s nearly unforeseen arrival, UNH cross-country skiing coach Cory Schwartz was almost uncertain. Because Schwartz coaches the cross-country team, he didn’t see any of the alpine events this weekend.
“I think one of [Middlebury’s] alpine teams did really well in the slalom. Actually, both of their men’s and women’s teams had a really good day. It gave them enough points to pass us, or rather, stay in front of us,” Schwartz said.
The Wildcats did in fact struggle in the alpine events at Dartmouth Skiway, with only two UNH skiers finishing top-20 in the men’s slalom. Chris Steinke and Tonis Luik put up the best numbers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a devastating Middlebury showing. They had skiers in second, sixth, ninth and 11th, combining for a total 117 team points compared to UNH’s 60.
UNH was resilient in the cross-country races. Katrin Larusson, Lizzie Gill and Silje Wilson combined for a total 116 points, securing a well-deserved first place finish in the women’s 3×5-kilometer FS relay. Although both Larusson and Gill started the relay strong, the win ultimately came down to Wilson’s closing performance. Schwartz had a lot to say about Wilson and her impressive finish.
“With 3K left in the race, [Wilson] was 25 seconds behind the next skier. By the end, Wilson had come back and finished first by a margin of nearly ten seconds. That’s incredibly hard to do, and is a really strong performance,” hea said.
Still, the team was disheartened by its slight drop in the standings. They proved last week that they’re capable of competing, and well, against the likes of Dartmouth and UVM. The team feels increasingly confident with only one carnival left until nationals.
“We kind of got nipped by Middlebury. [I] have no doubt that we could’ve been third place, easily. A little disappointing, but we’re already getting ready for the next carnival which is at Middlebury,” Schwartz added.
UNH travels to Rickert Touring Center this Friday for their last regional carnival of the season.