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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Panthers take third place in EISA Championships with impressive showing at Middlebury Carnival

Amidst the excitement of an electric home atmosphere, Middlebury tallied 739 total points in the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Championship this weekend, securing third place behind University of Vermont and Dartmouth College to conclude the regular season. The alpine and nordic races took place at the Middlebury Snow Bowl and Rikert Outdoor Center, giving the Panthers a home-hill advantage at the storied Middlebury Carnival.

“Waking up on Saturday morning and seeing the sun, I knew it was going to be a good day,” Tatum Coutu ’23.5, a member of the alpine skiing team, told The Campus. “I can’t even describe how grateful I am that my final race got to be the Midd Carnival.”

At the Snow Bowl, the alpine team boasted an impressive showing on the women's and men’s sides. On Friday, Mika-Anne Reha ’25 was crowned winner of the EISA championships in Slalom with a combined time of 1:41:04, marking her fourth podium finish of the season. Coutu and Emma Hall ’23.5 joined Reha on the scoreboard in 12th (1:44.49) and 13th place (1:44.75).

On the men’s side, all six Middlebury skiers finished the first run in the top 25: Charlie Lang ’23.5 was the top-scoring Panther in eighth place (1:35.71), followed by Bradshaw Underhill ’25 in 11th (1:36.01) and Nicholas Unkovskoy ’27 in 13th (1:36.59).

This set the tone for another strong performance in the Giant Slalom on Saturday. Reha narrowly missed the podium by two hundredths of a second, finishing in fourth place after a striking comeback from 13th place after the first run (2:03.45). Coutu threw down a seventh-place finish with a two-run total of 2:03.85, and Katie Fynn ’26 placed tenth (2:04.26). Underhill led the men’s team with his third podium finish of the season, finishing in third (1:36.01), followed by Lang and Will Trudeau ’23.5, who finished 12th (1:58.22) and 18th place (1:58.49), respectively. 

“There could not have been a better ending to my ski career than on my home hill surrounded by friends, family, and the spirited support of the school and town of Middlebury,” Coutu said. “I would’ve never thought that I would have two personal bests on my last two ski races ever. It just shows how much the crowd and energy of the weekend affect the athletes, in truly the best way possible.”

At Rikert, the Middlebury nordic skiers also demonstrated might on their home course.

​​Logan Moore ’25 paced the Panther men in the 7.5K skate on Friday with a tenth-place finish (21:28.6), followed by Jack Christner ’25 (22:00.0) and Mason Wheeler ’27 (22:00.2) who finished in 20th and 21st, respectively. For the women's team, Sofia Scirica ’27 (26:22.3) and Shea Brams ‘26 (26:24.7) each placed 24th and 25th. Maggie Wagner ’26 rounded out the scorers with a 29th-place result, crossing the finish at 26:56.5.

On Saturday, the Panthers enjoyed four top 20 finishes for the women in the 20K classic mass start. Brams continued her outstanding season with a third-place result, clocking in at 58:22, 

earning her fourth podium in the last five races and the fifth this winter. Teammates Wagner and Scirica joined her on the leaderboard, finishing in 14th (1:00:34.1) and 16th (1:00:44.5) places.

Also securing four spots in the top 20, the men’s squad was led by Moore in sixth place (50:48.2), followed by Christner in ninth place (51:01.9). Peter Warner ’27 snagged the final scoring spot in 16th place, clocking in at 51:43.2. 

The competition in the Northeast region of Division I skiing is undoubtedly fierce. Despite a formidable effort, Middlebury came in third behind the University of Vermont, who won the event with 943 points, followed by Dartmouth in second with 876.5 points. Finishing off the season at home, the Panthers have a lot to be proud of in their overall performances this season. 

The athletic environment of both alpine and nordic skiing is fundamentally strenuous, characterized by exceptionally physically and emotionally demanding conditions, a long season and the pressure to perform individually on behalf of the team. 

Despite ski racing being a primarily individual endeavor, Coutu described the combined personal and team scoring as a special facet of her sport that she enjoys.

“The unique team scoring factor in collegiate skiing adds a special dimension. One of the highlights of skiing for Middlebury has been our team culture and the genuine love and respect shared among all team members,” Coutu said.

Next, selected Panthers will travel to Steamboat Springs, Colo. to take part in the NCAA Championships. The lineup will include Alexandra Cossette ’24, Reha, Fynn, Underhill and Lang for the alpine team and Brams, Wagner, Christner and Moore for the nordic team. The four-day national championship will feature the alpine events at Mt. Werner and Howelsen Hills on March 6–9.

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