Yomalis Rosario / The Dartmouth Senior Staff
The Big Green alpine team worked through thawing, soft snow and warm, wet skiing conditions on the slopes in Stowe, Vt. to reach an overall third-place finish at the Vermont Carnival this weekend. The carnival will continue with Nordic events on Feb. 1 and 2.
Thirteen teams in the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association competed in the Carnival, with the competition split into two races a giant slalom on Jan. 11 and a slalom on Jan. 12.
By the end of the Jan. 11 giant slalom races, the women's team ranked second and the men's team ranked fourth. Lizzie Kistler '16 led the women, finishing fourth in the giant slalom. Aylin Woodward '15 who had never before placed in the top 15 placed fifth and Abby Fucigna '15 placed ninth.
For the men, Hunter Black '15 placed eleventh.
"I was happy with the 11th-place finish," Black said. "I think in the second run, I could have done a little better."
By the second day, conditions on the slopes had started to deteriorate. Rain from the previous night and higher than normal temperatures turned the snow soft, and ruts in the course worsened as the day carried on. Many skiers, including Kistler, could not finish their race.
"I made a mistake and I had to hike back up the hill to make it around one of the gates, and then later on in the run I didn't make it to the finish line," Kistler said. "That was disappointing for myself but since our women's team is strong this year, it takes the pressure off a little bit. You know that if you have an off day, you have other teammates that are really strong."
Still, four women from Dartmouth managed to finish three of them in the top ten. Sara Kikut '16 earned third place, captain Annie Rendall '13 finished fourth and Woodward finished sixth. The women's team tied for first with the host the University of Vermont.
The men's team is fairly young with three freshmen and three sophomore starters, and therefore lacked carnival experience, according to men's head coach Peter Dodge. Some mistakes were more mental than technical, he said.
"I think we were a little conservative in our approach, and we need to go out and attack more and ski more aggressively," Dodge said. "We definitely need to be 100 percent committed at this level of competition."
Black was one of two Big Green skiers who finished the slalom, though he ended up having to hike both runs. Since he was the second skier to start the race on his first run, he had no prior knowledge of some of the trickier parts of the slope, causing him to blow out and hike the rest of the run. On the second run, Black said he tried to make up for lost time, but ended up wiping out again.
"I was trying to go out from the back and go as hard as I could, and I had hoped that it worked out but it didn't," he said.
Kistler said the men's team, spurred by this performance, feel more motivated to deliver throughout the rest of the carnival season.
"They are capable of so much more than they showed this weekend," Kistler said. "They are obviously disappointed, but all really excited and motivated for next weekend to show the carnival circuit what they're capable of. "
The Stowe course is one of the most challenging on the carnival circuit, women's alpine coach Chip Knight said. It is steep and has two "break overs," where the hill goes from flat to steep very abruptly.
"Usually this carnival is later in the year, but this year it was early, and no one has had a lot of training time," Knight said. "It was challenging to come to a hill of this caliber."
UVM edged Dartmouth out in the final scoring and finished the weekend in first place, followed by the University of New Hampshire in second. Middlebury College finished about 60 points below the Big Green to place fourth.
The team has six more carnivals through the end of February, where they will continue to compete with the EISA. Typically, Dartmouth finishes within the top two in the league, and in the top three or four teams nationally. UVM is by far their toughest competitor, Dodge said, since they recruit many international students from Europe and give generous scholarships.
Kistler agreed that UVM is a formidable opponent, but also noted that the weekend's competition took place on UVM's home turf.
"That's where you train everyday," Kistler said. "When we have our Winter Carnival at Dartmouth, that will be an advantage for us."
The NCAA national championship will take place from March 7-9 in Middlebury, Vt. Dartmouth last won the NCAA championship in 2007.
Due to the altered exam and winter break schedule, the ski team had a longer time to practice prior to the start of the season. Following Thanksgiving, the team spent two weeks in Colorado, after which several skiers traveled to British Columbia to compete against upper-level and professional skiers from around the globe.
The rest of the team traveled to Maine to compete in an open series circuit. The women competed at Sugarloaf, while the men's team, including Black, competed at Sunday River.
Black finished first and third in his two races.
"That was a pretty good series for me," Black said. "I was hoping to take that momentum to these races."
Next weekend, the team will travel to Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, N.Y. to compete in the St. Lawrence Carnival.