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Panther skiers post wins at carnival

HANCOCK/RIPTON — Middlebury College skiers won two events this past weekend and claimed fourth place at the Panthers’ own Winter Carnival, which doubled as the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championship and an NCAA Regional.
The University of Vermont captured the title with 989 points, followed by Dartmouth (826), the University of New Hampshire (749) and the Panthers (710). Middlebury is now off until the NCAA championships, to be held from March 9 to 12 in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
  MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE SENIOR Alia Johnson, a Mount Abraham Union High School graduate, competes in Sunday’s Middlebury College Winter Carnival 15K classic race in Ripton.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
After five top-five finishes this season, Rob Cone broke through with a win at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in the slalom on Friday — day one of the 93rd carnival. 
Cone was one of just 50 racers to complete a challenging course that saw 33 competitors fail to finish. His time of 1:31.91 was more than one second ahead of the next finisher, and the Panthers placed second in the event. Panthers Christopher McKenna and Riley Plant both finished in the top 20. McKenna came in with a two-run time of 1:35.10 for 15th, and Plant, tied for 16th place in 1:35.19.
Just 0.23 second separated all three Panther women to score team points in the slalom. Lexi Calcagni paced the group in 15th place in 1:39.94. Just one spot back were Caroline Bartlett and Elle Gilbert, who finished in a 16th-place tie in 1:40.17.
Cone placed second in the giant slalom to highlight day two.
Cone just missed a weekend sweep, finishing 0.05 seconds off the winning pace. Plant tied his best effort of the carnival season with a sixth-place finish, crossing the line in 2:03.29. Christoph Niederhauser completed the team’s scorers with a 31st-place effort (2:07.85).
In the women’s GS, the Panthers earned their best finish of the season with three racers in the top 12. Calcagni turned in her top performance of 2016, finishing fourth in  2:09.45. Placing 11th was Gilbert, who also earned a season-best finish in 2:11.28. Bartlett rounded out the scorers in 12th place in 2:11.37.
On Saturday, the first day of Nordic racing, Middlebury senior Annie Pokorny earned her second-straight win when she claimed gold in the 5-kilometer freestyle at the Rikert Nordic Center. Her time of 12:09 was nearly nine seconds better than her nearest opponent. Panther senior Kaitlin Fink tied her best finish of the year, placing 13th in 13:04. Just one second behind was Cate Brams in 15th in 13:05.
Patrick McElravey led the Panther men on the course on Saturday, finishing a team-best 19th in the 10K freestyle in 23:17. Lewis Nottonson was next for the Panthers in 22nd (23:22), followed by Jacob Volz, who finished 26th (23:41).
Nordic races on Sunday were last on the slate. In the women’s 15-kilometer classic, Pokorny led the Panthers with a sixth-place finish in 44:27. Placing 14th for Middlebury was Brams in 45:21. Rounding out the scorers was Katie Feldman, who finished in 47:11 to place 27th.
On the men’s side, McElravey led the Panthers in 15th, completing the 20K classic in 48:50. Sam Wood stopped the clock in 49:55 to place 22nd, while Volz was 26th in 50:48.

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