Bates’ Alpine and Nordic ski teams officially inaugurated their 16-17 season in the St. Lawrence Carnival in Lake Placid, New York, this past weekend, finishing in 7th place collectively out of 17 competing schools. Together, Bates’ ski teams tallied 438 points, while the carnival winners, Dartmouth, scored 965.
Lake Placid is known by many as the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous U.S.A. upset of the Soviet Union in men’s hockey, remembered as the ‘miracle on ice.’ “The town of Lake Placid is full of life with many of the 1980 Olympic structures still up and in use,” commented Sierra Ryder ‘18, who competed in the women’s alpine events for Bates over the weekend. “It does not appear that much architecture has changed since the Olympics so it is really easy to imagine what it was like when the Olympics were actually there.” Even before its Olympic spotlight, however, the small hamlet in northeast New York played host to the St. Lawrence Carnival, as far back as 1967 according to the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association’s (EISA) website.
An EISA ski carnival includes two alpine events, giant slalom and slalom, and two Nordic races, the classic sprint and the freestyle (five kilometer race for women, 10 kilometer race for the men). Points are awarded proportionately to the fastest skiers, and total points are tallied for each school to determine the carnival winner.
Bates’ alpiner Kelsey Chenoweth ‘17 was stellar in the women’s giant slalom. Her two runs totaled a time of 2:13.75, good enough for 5th place and just .66 seconds out of second. Ryder led the Bobcats in the slalom race, finishing in 14th place overall with a total time of 1:44.31. Her second run was among the best on the day, weaving down the hill in just 50.43 seconds. While conditions were ideal for the giant slalom races during day one of the carnival, day two was a different story. “It was rainy and warm, resulting in pretty bad snow conditions, especially on the steep parts of the hill,” said Ryder. “Many racers were having significant trouble due to slushy soft snow; it felt like you were skiing through mud at some points.”
Bates’ Nordic skiers enjoyed the good weather during the classic sprints on Friday, but had to battle soft, wet snow on Saturday during the freestyle races. The five kilometer loop, the same course used for the Olympic Nordic events in 1980, is particularly challenging for skiers, as it climbs steadily uphill over the first four kilometers, before descending during the final stretch. Parker McDonald ‘18 was the highest scoring male skier for Bates over the weekend, finishing a career best 19th in the freestyle race with a time of 29:49.9, earning the Bobcats 26 points. Meanwhile, Laurel Fiddler ‘17 and Sadie James ‘17 paced the women’s side, finishing in 13th and 26th place respectively in the five kilometer freestyle race on Saturday.
With their solid showing, the Bobcat skiers feel they have started the season on the right foot. “I am very happy with the team’s performance at this stage of the season,” said McDonald. “We are in a really good place and there is a lot of positive energy amongst the team. I think this past weekend was a good starting point and we are only going to get faster as the season progresses.” Both ski teams continue their season at the UNH carnival this upcoming weekend.