CRAFTSBURY, VT - The UMPI Ski team started their Winter break with a weekend of racing in Craftsbury VT, Dec 19-20. The race venue was impacted by the warm El Nino weather pattern but the Craftsbury Outdoors Center was able to preserve their 800m loop of manmade snow and put on a fantastic weekend of racing. Four returning owls athletes were joined by five freshman and two first year coaches. For many of the athletes this was first race of the season and the first race of this caliber.
Saturday's race was a sprint of 1.5k for both men and women and the team welcomed below freezing temperatures and a steady snowfall for the first time in several weeks. Being such a short race, every tenth of a second counted with just 25seconds separating the top 80 men. Freshman Matt Forshey (Scotia, NY) led the way in 90th followed closely by Connor Hrynuk (FR, Boonville, NY) in 94th. Zach Veayo (JR, Farmington, ME), a year removed from ACL surgery, showed he is well on the road to full strength with his finish, followed by Ian Marshall (FR, Saco, ME) and Sully Jackson (FR, Wilton, ME) rounding out the team score. With 5 men on the team this year, including 2 freshman who have been to Junior Nationals, the team looks ready to use their depth and fight for a strong season. On the women's side Hilary Saucy (SR, Harleysville, PA) and Lydia Streinz (JR, Hersey, PA) were the top finishers in 24th and 36th with Valentina Annunziata (SO, Honeoye Falls, NY) and Freshman Chenoa Jackson (Wilton, ME) rounding out the team score for the Owls.
Sunday was a whole different race on what felt like a completely different snow surface. Thanks to 4" of natural snow and the snow making abilities over night the trail crew was able to groom a very nice, fast 1.1k loop which was completed 5 times for a 5.5k race. The men switched leads with Hyrnuk being the top finisher for the Owls in 92nd, with Forshey just seconds behind in 95th, followed by Veayo, Marshall, and Jackson. On the women's side, both Saucy and Streinz were seconds apart in 34th and 42nd, both showing promise for a successful season ahead, followed by Annunziata and Jackson.
The Ski team will return to campus for a pre-season training camp before beginning their collegiate racing season in Rumford, ME on Jan 15-16 at the Bates College Carnival.
Story by Hilary Saucy