Event: EISA Championships (Day 2)
Location: Black Mountain of Maine (Rumford, ME)
Race: WOMEN'S 5K
Coach Paul Stone's Thoughts:
Saturday's course was the first to be held on a new course configuration dubbed the "New Chummy 5k". Typically at Rumford you only climb to the high point once but with this new configuration you reach the high point drop down a fast twisty downhill and then climb right back up to the high point before heading to the stadium for the finish or to head out on another lap. The twisty downhill between climbs to the highpoint claimed several racers ending at least one person's day early with a broken binding and scrapes to the face.
The Owl men and women stepped up to the challenge though. Kati Christoffel (Sr./Clifton Park, NY) lead the way for the Owls for the second time this weekend. She skied a smart race ultimately battling Hanna Barnes from Harvard in the final kilometers. Kati tried to get by her on the final downhill but Hanna was able to close the door a few times by not giving up the best line. Kati bided her time till the final straightaway then accelerated out of her draft and out-sprinted her to the line. It was an exciting way to finish her UMPI career. Despite an early setback Desiree Smith (Sr./Thomaston, ME) skied another tough race to score points for the team for the second time on the weekend and third time on the year. Desi crashed on her first decent of the new downhill, but despite losing her sunglasses she was back on her feet and racing again in seconds. If you had told me that she would be scoring points for us a year ago when she was learning how to skate in the parking lot at UMPI I would never have believed it! She is a phenomenal athlete and absolutely fearless. Hilary Saucy (Fr./Harleysville, PA) rounded out the scoring for UMPI as our second finisher. On a weekend for her that started with an upset stomach she battled hard in both races despite feeling awful. It was a tough way to end the collegiate season but as a freshmen she has three more years to look forward to.
Team Finish: 8th Place (out of 12 teams)
Coach Stone: Joey Bard (Jr./Woodland, ME) still had an outside chance to make NCAA's if he managed to finish in the top 5. The mass start is seeded with athletes lining up roughly in the order that they were ranked over the course of the season. The start was almost for perfect for Joey and Eirik Fosnæs (So/Bærum, Norway). Eirik moved quickly into the top 6-8 skiers and settled in for the first few kilometers. Joey also deftly moved his way up through the field to make contact with the leading group of 15-20 skiers within a kilometer. The second time up to the high point of the course on the first lap Eirik realized he was in trouble. After skiing remarkably well all year it appeared he just didn't have the legs he usually does for climbing and he began to slip backwards through the field at the same time that Joey was moving up. Eirik gave Joey a little push as he went by hoping it would help Joey maintain his position with the leading 12-13 men but unfortunately the day wasn't going to be ours. Joey couldn't quite hang on to that front group of guys and he had to settle for skiing in a chase pack for much of the rest of the race. He worked together with Lucas Milliken (Bates) to drop a couple of other skiers in the final km but ultimately lost out to the Bates skier in the final drag to the line losing out by .5 seconds. It was still his second best finish on the season and solid race if not one that would qualify him for the NCAA championships. Eirik continued to fight his body behind Joey and eventually finished 30th. Justin Fereshetian (Sr./Turner, ME) finished up his Owl skiing career with one of his best races of the season. Two days removed from his birthday, he managed a 45th place finish that helped the team secure another 8th place finish. A few places farther back Andrew Nesbitt (So./Williamstown, MA) ended the season on a high note finishing just inside the top 50 for his best race of the season.
Photo Credit: flyingpointroad.com