Skiing finishes strong at Middlebury

The Williams College nordic ski team finished off the regular carnival season this past weekend in Middlebury, VT, with several skiers posting their best results of the season. The weather was beautiful, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 30s. A recent storm left several inches of fresh powder snow on a rock solid base, which made for both excellent skiing and excellent snowman-making conditions.

The women led off the weekend with a 5K skate race on a very fast course. Sylvia Englund ’99 was Williams’ top finisher, crossing the line in 18th place. Loryn Kipp ’99 followed in 22nd, with Erin Graham ’02 in 23rd, Katie Guernsey ’00 in 28th, Helena Johnson ’00 in 29th, and Elly Spensely ’01 in 39th.

Nick Trautz ’99 led the way for the Ephs in the men’s 10K skate race, finishing in 17th place, his top finish of the year. P.J. Spina ’00 was 20th, with Jason Lemieux coming in .10 seconds behind him to finish 21st. Rounding out the men’s team were Topher Sabot ’99 in 23rd, Noel Johnson ’01 in 27th, and Mark Walrod ’01 in 41st.

The men started off Saturday with a 20K classic race. Lemieux ripped his way through the race finish in 11th, his best result of the year. Spina was right behind him throughout the race, winding up in 13th place overall. Noel Johnson crossed the line in 19th, with Sabot in 23rd and Walrod in 27th. Said Spina, “Jason and I worked together on the uphills and drafted each other on the downhills. It was not an especially hard course, but it helped to ski with a teammate.” Added Lemieux, “It was an awesome race and an awesome day; pack skiing is the best. The wax was great and the whole team skied and worked together well.”

Helena Johnson skied her way to her best finish of the year to finish 18th overall in the women’s 15K classic race. Englund followed in 20th, with Graham in 22nd, Guernsey in 26th, and Kipp in 27th. Spensely crossed the line in 30th place despite skiing with only one pole for a kilometer or two in the middle of the race.

The nordic ski team sent two men to the NCAA Division I Championships last year; this year three men and two women will be wearing the purple cow suits up in Rumford, ME. Lemieux, Spina, Noel Johnson, Englund, and Kipp will all be competing two weeks from now against the best collegiate skiers in the country. Commented Lemieux, “Now it’s off to NCAA’s to see what we can do against the big guns.”

The team looks back now on a season of strong individual finishes and a solid lock on fifth place overall finishes, behind perennial powerhouses UVM, Middlebury, Dartmouth, and UNH. There were cracks in the armor, however, with the women beating Middlebury at Bates and the men edging out UNH up at Prospect during the Williams carnival. The team will sorely miss the six seniors who will be graduating this year, leaving behind large shoes to fill for the upcoming racers.

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