It’s mid-February; the NCAA racing season is in full swing. Athletes were in action on both edges of the country last weekend, in Minturn, Colorado, for the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) and in Dublin, New Hampshire, for the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA). Next weekend brings racing in all three collegiate ski conferences in this country, as RMISA travels to Anchorage and Palmer for a pair of meets, EISA goes to Prospect Mountain for the Williams Carnival, and the Central Collegiate Ski Association, or CCSA, holds its conference championships at Wirth as part of next weekend’s SuperTour stop.
For now, though, here’s a look back at last weekend’s results.
RMISA: Denver Invitational
Seven western schools had athletes competing in the nordic races in this year’s Denver Invitational, which were held at Maloit Park in Minturn, Colorado (outside of Vail). For not the first time this season, the University of Utah notched the strongest nordic team performance en route to an overall invitational win.
Friday saw interval-start skate races, 5km for both men and women. Novie McCabe (Utah) led the way for the women in 15:33.3, a remarkable 34 seconds up on teammate Sophia Laukli over just five kilometers. Anna-Maria Dietze (Colorado) was third, another 11 seconds back.
In the men’s race, Bernhard Flaschberger (Denver) took the win in 14:09.0. He was 36.4 seconds ahead of Walker Hall of Utah in second, who nipped Andreas Kirkeng (Denver) by 2.3 seconds for third.
McCabe was on multiple podiums at U.S. Nationals last month, Laukli was on a World Cup podium atop Alpe Cermis last month, and Kirkeng won the 10km skate in Houghton by over 30 seconds ahead of John Steel Hagenbuch and David Norris, if that helps to give a sense of the strength of field here. Steel Hagenbuch, Norris, McCabe, and Laukli were all recently named to the U.S. team for World Champs in Planica, with McCabe and Steel Hagenbuch declining the nomination.
After the first day of competition, Utah had a resounding lead in overall points, with Denver second and Colorado third.
It was more of the same in Saturday’s 10km mass start classic race, but even more so, as Utah moved up from three podium spots on Friday to four on Saturday. McCabe won Saturday’s race as well, in 36:22.3, with Laukli again second, roughly 50 seconds back. Hanna Abrahamsson of Colorado was third.
The men’s race was closer, with Kirkeng of Denver taking the win over Sam Hendry of Utah by 0.3 seconds. Luke Jager, also of Utah, finished another second back in third. Kirkeng’s winning time on Saturday was 31:36.8, for 10 kilometers, in what looked like good conditions. The high point on the Vail course is at 2,262 meters, or over 7,400 feet. Racing at altitude is hard.
Utah director of skiing Fredrik Landstedt called Saturday “one of the best races ever for a Utah Nordic team” in a team press release.
In the overall standings for the Denver Invitational, Utah won going away, with 734 points (counting alpine races) to Denver’s 608. Colorado was third, with 518. Utah had the most nordic points, most alpine points, most women’s nordic points, and most men’s nordic points.
RMISA racing continues next week with races in the greater Anchorage area, including a skate sprint and 10km classic in Anchorage on February 20–21 (Alaska Anchorage Invitational) and a 5/10km skate and 20km classic at Government Peak, an hour away in Palmer, on February 24–25 (RMISA Championships). Nordic Insights will report in person from some or all of these races, with precise coverage specifics depending on Nordic Insights’ children’s school schedule and Nordic Insights’ mother’s availability for childcare.
EISA: Harvard Carnival
A full slate of eleven New England schools saw athletes contest the nordic races at last weekend’s Harvard Carnival, held on the trails at Dublin Nordic Center. Dartmouth College and University of Vermont were at the top of many results sheets, for not the first time in the history of EISA racing. Dartmouth took a narrow win in the overall carnival standings, over Vermont, as well as in the unofficial nordic-only sub standings (yes I know that is not how NCAA team scoring literally works).
Friday saw 10-kilometer interval-start classic races for all, with the women going out first at 10 a.m. The day’s sixth starter, Ava Thurston of Dartmouth, was fastest over two, five-kilometer laps, finishing in 31:43.9. She was 35.8 seconds up on Nina Seemann, also of Dartmouth, in second, and 47.4 seconds ahead of Shea Brams (Middlebury) in third. Brams was the only athlete from somewhere other than Dartmouth or Vermont in the top six.
The men’s race, starting two hours later, saw a greater diversity of teams at the top of the results sheet: Rémi Drolet of Harvard in first, Luke Allan of Dartmouth in second (+28.4), and Willson Moore of Middlebury in third (+43.6). Drolet’s winning time for 10km was 28:00.3.
The classic-only weekend continued with 3 x 5km classic relays on Saturday, again the women first and then the men. Vermont showed its strength when it pulled out narrow victories in both races.
In the women’s race, Vermont’s first team (Haley Brewster, Annie McColgan, and Waverly Gebhardt) took the win in 42:57.7. They were 2.3 seconds ahead of Middlebury (Quincy Massey-Bierman, Charlotte Ogden, and Shea Brams) in second, which was 20+ seconds ahead of Dartmouth (Garvie Tobin, Nina Seemann, and Ava Thurston) in third.
The second teams from Vermont (fourth), Middlebury (sixth), and Dartmouth (seventh) were ahead of several schools’ first teams, with only New Hampshire in fifth intruding on the UVM/Middlebury/Dartmouth hegemony at the top of the results sheet.
There were some familiar names atop the results list for the men’s relay, contested two hours later: Vermont, Dartmouth, and Middlebury made up the podium there. UVM I anchor Jacob Nystedt took the win by only 0.3 seconds over Dartmouth I anchor John Steel Hagenbuch. Willson Moore of Middlebury followed 30+ seconds later in third.
Vermont’s team had Nystedt, Gregory Burt, and Petter Bakken. Dartmouth had Luke Allan on the scramble leg, then Jack Lange and Steel Hagenbuch. Middlebury’s lineup was Sam Hodges, Logan Moore, and Willson Moore (no relation).
When the weekend was over, and alpine races had been contested, Dartmouth took the overall carnival victory over Vermont, its first carnival win since 2019 EISA championships, by the narrow margin of 848–835. Dartmouth relied on a strong performance from its nordic teams (463 points to UVM’s 426) to take the win, as Vermont garnered 409 points on the alpine side to Dartmouth’s 385.
EISA racing continues at Prospect Mountain, in Woodford, Vermont, this weekend for the Williams Carnival.
— Gavin Kentch