Harvard kicked off its 2015 campaign in Maine this weekend at the Bates Carnival, where the team placed ninth overall. Men’s senior captain Akeo Maifeld-Carucci made headlines with a second-place finish in the 10 k skate on Saturday–his first career carnival podium–to follow up his ninth place in the 20 k classic on Friday. Akeo came close to the podium last year but had never quite cracked the top three until this weekend, and the result reflects the hard work he’s put in over the last four years.
Several Harvard nordies posted strong results in Maine. Beginning with the women’s 15k classic mass start on Friday, sophomore Rachel Hampton skied a smart race and finished 15th with a time of 51:49. Fellow sophomore Maile Sapp was Harvard’s second woman in 34th and junior Annie Harvieux took 44th.
Akeo led the Crimson in ninth place in the 20 k classic after skiing with the leaders for the first few laps of the course. The men experienced a short but heavy snow squall midway through their race, which splintered the lead pack. Akeo finished in 1:00:15, four seconds behind UVM’s Jorgen Grav. Freshman Connor Green made an impressive 20 k debut in 36th and sophomore Devlin Shea rounded out the Crimson scoring in 73rd.
Saturday began at eight degrees below zero. Annie battled through the cold to post an 18th-place finish in the 5 k skate, a personal best for her by a huge margin. Rachel was nine seconds behind her in 20th and senior captain Emily Rogers scored a strong 41st as the Crimson’s third woman.
In the men’s 10 k, Akeo flew around Black Mountain’s championship-level course right out of the gate. After the first lap he sat in the top five, less than ten seconds out of the lead with most of the top-seeded competitors through. By the time he came around our split timer again, Akeo was in the lead, and at the finish only Dartmouth’s Paddy Caldwell bumped him out of the leader’s chair. After Akeo, Connor followed up his debut race for the Crimson with another strong result in 38th and freshman Haakon Sigurslid scored his first points for the team in 54th.
The Harvard alpine team kicked of its collegiate season at Sunday River. The snow conditions were amazing, holding up very well for the entire race both days. The temperatures, however, turned out to be one of the biggest challenges of the weekend, dipping well below zero at times. Friday’s Giant Slalom saw Harvard freshmen Kelly Steeves get her collegiate career off to a solid start, leading the way in 33rd. Captain Samantha Udolf had a fantastic move up from a start position of 82 to finish 42nd on the day.
The men’s team had a tough go of it, battling an extremely stacked field. Freshmen Pieter Weemaes came from a start position in the 80′s to narrowly miss qualifying for the second run.
In Saturday’s slalom race, Kelly was again the Crimson’s best finisher with an impressive move from a start position of 60 to end the day in 36th place. Captain Simon Merryweather was charging hard in his first run and just barely missed qualifying for the second run by only 0.09 seconds. Pieter was close behind him. This bodes well for the Crimson men putting multiple racers into the second run as carnival season progresses.
Next up is the UVM carnival at Stowe, VT this coming weekend. Don’t forget to check out the races live on Bart Timing, or better yet, we’d love to see you up on the race hill in person, cheering on the team!