Five members of the Middlebury College ski team were honored when the EISA announced its eastern awards. Senior Patrick Johnson (Anchorage, Alaska) was a first-team All-East selection, as well as one of two nordic freestyle and classic points leaders. Sophomore Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) was named to the second-team, while Annie Pokorny (Spokane, Wash.) was named the women’s nordic rookie of the year. Middlebury nordic coach Andrew Gardner was named the nordic coach of the year. On the alpine side, junior Andrew McNealus (Woodstock, Vt.) and sophomore Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) were both named to the All-East second-team.
Johnson has been the story for the nordic men this season, winning six of 11 races, while placing in the top four nine times. The senior swept both the 10K classic and 10K free at the UVM Carnival, while winning both the 10K free and 20K classic at the Middlebury Carnival. He is the top-ranked skier in the east in both the free and classical races.
Lustgarten has earned top 10 finishes in seven of nine races in ’12. His top finishes were a fifth place effort in the 10K classic at Dartmouth, followed by another fifth place finish at the 10K classic at Williams the following weekend. Lustgarten is ranked 10th in the free and eighth in the classical races.
Pokorny had a great season for the Middlebury women, earning EISA Nordic Rookie of the Year honors. She earned five top 10 finishes in nine races this season, finishing eighth twice and ninth twice. Her best finish of the season was a seventh place effort in the 15K classic at the Middlebury Carnival. She is ranked 12th overall in the east in the free and 11th in the classic.
The men’s alpine squad boasts three racers ranked in the top 13 in both the slalom and giant slalom. Roberts had top 10 finishes in nine of 11 races, including six finishes in the top six. Roberts picked up a win in the slalom at the UVM Carnival, with fourth place finishes in both the slalom and GS in the opening carnival at Bates. He is ranked fifth in the east in the slalom and 10th in the GS.
McNealus earned top 10 finishes in six of 11 races this season, ranking fifth overall in the GS. McNealus won that event at the Williams Carnival, placing fifth at Dartmouth. He is ranked 13th overall in the slalom event.
Gardner is now in his sixth season as the "Terry L. Aldrich Nordic Skiing Coach Chair" as the head coach of the men's and women's nordic ski teams. He came to Middlebury from Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale, Colo., where he has served as the nordic coach since 2000 and nordic program director since 2003.
During his six years at CRMS, Gardner coached a collection of the best nordic skiers in the state. He comes to Middlebury with an immense and advanced knowledge of training, technique and waxing skills.
Prior to his arrival at CRMS, Gardner worked as a trainer for the world junior biathlon team. He did his collegiate skiing at NESCAC-member Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Gardner graduated from Bates cum laude in June of 2000, earning a degree in literature. He has also spent a summer working on a master’s degree in English at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English.