Lake Placid, NY -
Norkin opens up Carnival Career in Lake Placid
Subzero temperatures were not enough to freeze the collegiate skiing debut of UMPI Owl freshmen Irina Norkin. Hovering below -4 degrees fahrenheit in the early morning, the original 10:00 AM start was delayed a full hour to allow temperatures to rise above the legal start limit. Despite the cold, a bluebird sunny day and minimal wind, combined with the pristine trails at Mt. Van Hoevenberg (maintained by former UMPI nordic ski coach Kris Cheney Seymour), site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, made for a great weekend of races to open the 2019 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Carnival season.
The weekend kicked off with a 5km freestyle individual start race. Lina Sutro (14:53) of the University of Vermont won by 51 seconds over Annika Landis of Middlebury (15:44). The podium was rounded out by Oslo native, Jenny Pedersen, a freshmen who skis for the Catamounts of UVM as well. Sutro and Landis would battle the following day in the 10k classic race, with Sutro again getting the best of the duo, winning by two seconds (34:30 to 34:32). Sutro, the sophomore from Carbondale, Colorado, is in good position to qualify for the NCAA meet after securing 100 points in each of the two disciplines. The top two freestyle and top two classic finishes for each athlete from the entire Carnival race schedule are used to rank skiers at the end of the season to determine who will race in Stowe, VT in March at the NCAA championships.
Racing in her first EISA race on the difficult Olympic Ladies 5k loop, which consists of a mostly uphill first 3.5 km followed by a steep and twisting descent back into the stadium, Norkin finished in 88th place out of 95 competitors. Her time was 21:21. "The race was a tough course with technical hills both uphill and downhill," Norkin commented after the race. "My skis were fast. My pacing went well but what I could have done better was follow through on the transitions. You lose seconds there and you need to be good at that."
Day 2 of Saint Lawrence Carnival action brought about similar conditions - cold and sunny - and another slight delay, this time only 30 minutes. With no new snow, nailing the kick wax for the day required very little effort. "The coaches did not have to do much testing in the morning and everyone settled on pretty much the exact same binder and hard waxes; it made things easy for us," said coach Sederquist.
In the 10km, Norkin raced 2 laps of the women's 5k loop, finishing in 45:57, good for 86th place out of 94 racers. Out of the 94 athletes, just 9 represented high schools from the state of Maine, with Norkin as one of them. The top Maine finisher was Kaelyn Woods, a junior for Bates, who wound up in 15th place. The top freshmen from Maine was Ursula Volz, an Orono graduate attending Harvard, who finished in 41st place in a time of 38:11. Only 3 freshmen Mainers competed this past weekend, including Norkin.
"I think Irina is very talented, and if we can continue to extend her balance and cycle length, she has all of the athleticism, strength, and mental toughness to compete with these athletes. In two weeks, when we race at the Chummy Broomhall, it will be interesting to see if we can close the gap on some of those Maine kids specifically - it will give us something to shoot for." Overall, Sederquist was very pleased with the focus of his athlete's effort.
"It is a big step up from high school racing, and Irina approached the races with focus and excitement, and she raced really smart and with composure. She represented UMPI with the pride we want here. An example of true success - she gave everything she had in both races."
This coming weekend, Norkin will compete in the 7.5km sprint and 10km freestyle biathlon races at the North American Cup in Fort Kent.
"I am very happy and blessed to be able to experience this carnival race and I look forward to more," Norkin concluded.
The next carnival race on tap is the University of Vermont carnival on the first weekend in February.