The Zak Cup series is named after Vlastimil Zak, who died unexpectedly when he went through the ice on Squam Lake, New Years Eve, 1979. Zak’s enthusiasm and dedication to our sport lives on in the Zak Series. The Zak Cup is a season-long series to determine the best skiers in each five-year age group over 30. All events that are part of this series are scored for Club points, with all participants earning at least one point for their club. 9 of the 12 scheduled Zak Cups were held during the 2016-17 season, showcasing New England’s varied terrain and snow conditions. Many thanks to the host clubs, volunteers, venues and skiers who make these events well-run, fun and social ski events.
The first race in the series, the Quarry Road Opener, was cancelled due to low snow in December. The Gunstock skate race, second on the series list, was held in early January on the Gunstock Nordic Association (GNA) trails. It was the first year that GNA held a Zak Cup, and it was a well-run individual start skate race consisting of 2, 4 km loops for the women and 3, 4 km loops for the men. The course had some long sustained climbs in the beginning, and then fun technical downhills that looped skiers back into the stadium.
One week later, the Geschmossel, which is one of the oldest races in New England, was next in the series. Bretton Woods worked hard to make sure the race was held, having the move the start and change the course slightly. The 15 km classic mass start started in two waves, the first one was the masters men, and the second consisting of the women and boys categories. The tracks were firm and fast, making it a tight race for skiers!
On the third weekend of January, there were two Zak Cup races. The White Mountain 30 km Classic in Jackson, NH was held on that Saturday. It’s always a favorite race as it is a part of the New England Marathon Series, Zak Cup series, and it is the One-Day Club Championship. Jackson had received plenty of snow prior to the race, and had the course groomed to their usual high standards. Showing their strength in numbers and performance, the Northwest Vermont Endurance (NWVE) won the Club Championship, just one point over the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU).
Mansfield Nordic Club held the Mansfield Nordic Duathlon the next day at The Craftsbury Outdoor Center. This race is continuing to gain in popularity as Bill Koch-ers, and racers of all ages, try out this classic and skate technique race. The race was a great event, with lots of prizes for participants. Up next in the series was the Flying Moose Classic held on the Gould Academy Pine Hill competition trails. The 22 km mass start classic race had great grooming and a challenging, fast course.
The next weekend was the Cheri Walsh, combined with the Eastern Cup race. This individual start 10 km skate race was held on the Holderness School trails. Holderness always puts on a fantastic race, and with plenty of snow, and more snow falling that day, the skiing was superb.
The series continued with the Bogburn at the end of February. The Bogburn is truly a “classic” New England style race not only because of where it is held in Pomfret, Vermont, but also because of its history. The race has drawn high caliber skiers over the years and it hosted by Bob Haydock, an influential NENSA board member and member of the CSU club. Snow was shoveled onto the fun, undulating course, to ensure that the race was held. Some parts of the course were just a ribbon of snow, which barely held on for the last skier.
Due to low snow conditions, Bretton Woods had to cancel their races planned for the second weekend in March, the Bretton Woods Marathon and the Mt. Washington Cup. The Craftsbury Spring Fling was last race in the series, ending the Zak Cup series on a high note as the best conditions ever for this race. A storm had dumped another 6 inches of snow before the weekend, and the course used many of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s core trails. The grooming was impeccable, and everyone enjoyed a BBQ on the deck to wrap up the season.
The age group winners for this year are as follows, for M1 women in 1st place is Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic). 1st place for the M1 men is Neil Graves (Stowe Nordic), and in 2nd place is Tyler Magnan (NWVE). In the M2 division, Clipperly Good (NWVE) won for the women and Damiam Bolduc (NWVE) won the men’s category. For M3’s, Jessica Bolduc (NWVE) is 1st for women and for the men, Eric Darling (NWVE). Sarah Pribram (NWVE) takes 1st for the M4 women, and for the M4 men John Sakalowsky (CSU) is 1st , Chris Brewer is 2nd and in 3rd place is Clinton Krueger (CSU). Karen Alence (Mansfield Nordic) is 1st for the M5 women, and 1st for the M5 men is Tom Thurston (NWVE), 2nd place is Chris Naimie (Bow Nordic), and 3rd place is Mike Kavanaugh (NWVE).
For the M6 category, Ellie Bouffard (Mansfield Nordic) is 1st, Cheryl Carlson (Ford Sayre) is 2nd and in 3rd place is Ann Burnham (CSU). Rick Powell (Ford Sayre) is 1st for the M6 men, Bryce Wing (Ford Sayre) is 2nd and Robert Faltus (CSU) is 3rd place. JoAnn Hanowski (Mansfield Nordic) wins the M7 women, with Carrie Nourjian (Stowe Nordic) in 2nd, and Jody Newton (CSU) in 3rd place. David Johnstone is 1st in the M7 men, with Graham Holmes in 2nd place and Chris Nice (Ford Sayre) in 3rd.
Jim Fredericks (Mansfield Nordic) wins the M8 men’s category, with Donavon Freeman (Mt Washington) in 2nd place, and John Lazenby (Onion River) in 3rd. Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) is 1st for the M9 women, with Sally Howe (Stowe Nordic) in 2nd place. Jonathan Chaffee (Ford Sayre) wins the M9 men’s category with John Broadhead (Craftsbury Nordic) in 2nd place and David Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) in 3rd. Sara Mae Berman (CSU) wins the M11 women, and George Hall (Craftsbury Nordic) wins the M11 men’s category, with Larry Berman (CSU) in 2nd place.
Congratulations to Sara Graves (Stowe Nordic) and Neil Graves (Stowe Nordic) for being the overall winners this year of the Zak Cup series! For the women, Trina Hosmer (Stowe Nordic) is 2nd overall , and JoAnn Hanowski (Mansfield Nordic) is 3rd. In the mens category, Tom Thurston (NWVE) is 2nd overall, and John Sakalowsky (CSU) is 3rd place.
For overall Club scores, Ford Sayre came in 3rd place, CSU was 2nd and NWVE came in first this year! Click HERE to find rankings for age categories, overall, and club points.
Congratulations to all those who participated in the Zak Cup and Club Cup series, and thank you to the Clubs and host venues for continuing to put on great races in New England. Bids are now open for the 2017-18 season. Click here for more info on how to bid!
Sara Mae Berman says
Thank you NENSA for all your support.
I don’t think Nordic skiing gets its due in the local media (Boston area). According to Ski Industries, Mass has more Nordic skiers as a percentage of the population than any other state. Yet the lack of coverage here, shows that this is not recognized. Maybe if every Nordic skier would tell their newspapers or radio and TV that they should cover Nordic ski races, demonstrate that there is great interest here, that they would pay attention. (About my winning the women’s M11: it’s a little embarrassing to win because I’m the only one in my age class. Maybe next winter, some other lady will age into M11.)