This was the second consecutive Championships for senior Akeo Maifeld-Carucci, while sophomore Rachel Hampton made her NCAA debut in Lake Placid. We’re told this was the first time NCAAs had been held at Lake Placid since the early 1980s.
In the women’s 5 k skate race, Rachel attacked the challenging Olympic course early and significantly improved over her performance on this course at Regionals. She finished 36th overall, less than 10 seconds out of the top 30. On a day when many of the East’s best women skiers slipped in the results, Rachel had one of her strongest skate races of the season.
As a top seed from the East in skate technique, Akeo was one of the last starters on course for the men’s 10 k. Like Rachel, Akeo attacked the course even as conditions warmed and slowed. Five kilometers into the race, he sat inside the top 15 and just a couple of seconds from the top 10. Unfortunately, Akeo couldn’t quite find the second-lap gear that he’s enjoyed in his best races this season. He slipped to a very-respectable 25th, which was only 10 seconds out of the top 20 (and 20 seconds out of the top 15) in a tightly-packed field.
The weather returned to cooler temperatures for the classic races, which were held in more abrasive, icy conditions. Rachel moved up from her starting position in the 15 k mass start (bib 36) and finished 31st overall, a strong result that saw her place ahead of a mix of mostly West and Central region skiers.
In the men’s 20 k classic, the binder on one of Akeo‘s skis disintegrated early in his race; even so, he managed to hold his starting position and even ski away at the end from two skiers who were with him through 15 k. Akeo also placed 31st.
We were thrilled to see Patrick Caldwell of Dartmouth win his first individual NCAA title in the 10 k skate. Paddy is the son of our alumna Margaret (Waters) Caldwell ’84!
The Championships had an alumni flavor this year. Audrey (’10) and I had race day help from Ollie Burruss ’08, while former Harvard nordic coach Peter Graves and alumnus Dave McCahill ’09 provided great commentary for the NCAA video coverage of the races. Thanks also to faculty advisor Jim Stock (P ’14) for his support. And thank you to the many friends of skiing who sent good luck wishes or let us know you were watching the races from afar.