2019 Nordic Skiing Season Preview

(L-R): Senior captains Sam Wood, Lewis Nottonson and Annika Landis, along with their teammates, start the carnival season at the St. Lawrence Carnival on January 12-13.
(L-R): Senior captains Sam Wood, Lewis Nottonson and Annika Landis, along with their teammates, start the carnival season at the St. Lawrence Carnival on January 12-13.

The Middlebury nordic ski teams will have some experienced racers on the course, while infused with some youth entering the 2019 season. Last year's team results saw the Panthers come on strong with third-place finishes in the final three carnivals of the season prior to NCAA competition. Middlebury qualified a full squad of six racers to the NCAA Championships in Colorado, where the team finished eighth overall.

On the men's side, senior Sam Wood and sophomore Peter Wolter both return to the lineup after qualifying for the NCAA Championships a year ago. Wood, a Second-Team EISA selection in 2018, earned six top-10 finishes last winter, highlighted by a win during the 10K classic event at the Williams Carnival. The 2019 captain concluded junior his year with an eighth-place finish in the 20K freestyle event at the EISA Championships, followed by a pair of 16th-place efforts at the NCAA Championships.

Wolter put together a solid first year for the Panthers, earning him the 2018 EISA Rookie of the Year accolades. He recorded six top-10 efforts during the carnival season, including podium finishes in the St. Michael's 15K freestyle event (2nd) and the Vermont 10K classic event (3rd).

Senior Lewis Nottonson, a two-time NCAA qualifier, looks to build on a solid junior season. One of this year's captains, his best individual finish of the 2018 season came at the Williams Carnival, when he placed second overall in the 10K classic event. He finished fifth earlier in the year during the 15K freestyle event at St. Michael's and started the winter in sixth at the Colby Carnival 10K classic event.

Junior Gabe Mahoney and sophomore Calvin Bates gained experience a year ago and will join three first-year racers who look to break onto the carnival squad.

The women's team features no seniors and five skiers entering the 2019 season, led by 2018 NCAA participant Alexandra Lawson. Her best individual finish came at Vermont Carnival, where she came in ninth overall in the 5K classic event. In the 5K freestyle at the Williams Carnival a few weeks later, she earned a 10th-place finish. At the NCAA Championships, Lawson tallied an 18th-place showing in the 10K freestyle and a 29th-place effort two days later in the 20K freestyle.

Junior Annika Landis had a solid sophomore campaign and was the first alternate for the NCAA team. A captain this season, she crossed the line in ninth place during the 5K classic event at Dartmouth for her top individual finish last winter. Later in the season, Landis tallied a 10th-place showing at the Williams Carnival in the 5K classic event.

Junior Sophia Hodges and sophomore Avery Ellis both saw races in the lineup last season and will battle for points during carnival races this winter. Joining the aforementioned group will also be a first-year racer who looks to challenge the returners.

Led by 2018 EISA Coach of the Year Andrew Johnson, now in his sixth season guiding the program, the Panthers began their season with a November camp in Stoneham, Quebec, and pick things up after the winter break with a training and racing camp in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec. The Panthers won't have to travel far when they conclude their season at the NCAA Championships, slated to happen from March 6-9 at the Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.