BOZEMAN, Mont. – The Nordic races at the national championships bring together competitors from three regions and twenty schools, totaling 39 athletes in the women’s 15k classic. All winter long on the EISA circuit, the women from Vermont have duked it out with Dartmouth to the point that the result for the first non-Catamount or Big Green skier became a noteworthy accomplishment. When those programs brought their friendly competition to Bohart Ranch on Friday, they worked together to claim the historic feat of securing the top-six spots in a championship Nordic race between only two schools for the first time in history.
|Day Three Results|
The race unfolded under rapidly warming snow and air temperatures that challenged the athletes on the 15k track that was soft in the sun and grippy in the shade. Early on, the Dartmouth and Vermont women could be seen working together, trading off pulls at the front of a paceline.
Vermont’s Lucy Garrec discussed the plan for working together: “I talked to Caitlin [Patterson], and we were thinking Maria [Graefnings] would make a break for it. We had planned with the Dartmouth girls on trying to control that a bit. They did a great job staying up front, but we never let anyone stay out there too long. It just panned out for us because Maria sort of died off.”
Highly favored RMISA athletes Maria Graefnings of Utah and Eliska Hajkova of Colorado both struggled and finished seventh and tenth, respectively.
Dartmouth’s Sophie Caldwell and Vermont’s Amy Glen were neck and neck all the way to the photo finish that determined the race victor. It was Glen’s second photo finish of the season as she was the runner-up behind teammate Garrec at the Dartmouth Carnival in similar fashion. But in this instance she was declared the winner by a margin of less than two inches in distance or the blink of an eye in time, and it was the first collegiate race victory of her career.
She attributed her success to more than just skill, hard work, and good equipment. “I got lucky, I guess,” Glen said. “[This title] stands for my team. We definitely feed off each other, and it’s been awesome.”
Caldwell showed no signs of disappointment in her second place result when she remarked, “I’m still really excited because it was a fun race, probably the most fun I ever had.”
Garrec was also pleased with her third-place finish and ecstatic with the placement of her teammates as well as the three skiers from Dartmouth.
“We never know,” Garrec said. “We always think maybe we’re not skiing at the same level as the girls in the West. So you know you can be in the mix, but that doesn’t always mean third or fourth; it could also mean eighth.”
Rounding out the historic top-six sweep were Dartmouth’s Annie Hart in fourth, Vermont’s Caitlin Patterson in fifth, and Big Green skier Erika Flowers in sixth.
Patterson made a crucial pass around Graefnings in the final lap of the race to establish her position, but she was still pushing even when her place was secure.
“My coaches were telling me not to worry about Maria, that I had plenty of space,” Patterson said. “But I wouldn’t believe it until I touched the line. As I was finishing and fighting for every second, I was very happy with fifth. It was awesome to have all of the East in the top six with Dartmouth and UVM.”