Competitors for the Eastern Cup mass start classic events were greeted with railroad-track-like conditions on Fort Kent’s serpentine 5km course. Temperatures were in the low single digits and the firm tracks rewarded those who had ample kick.
The U16 boy’s opened the day racing with a field of 27 competitors. Finn Sweet of Craftsbury rose to the challenge and skied to a commanding 22 second victory (15:25) over Felix-Olivier Moreau of Club Nordique MSA who covered the course in 15:47. Aidan Burt of Mansfield Nordic held off a hard charging Brian Bushey of GMVS to take the last step on the podium with a time of 15:53.
The U16 girl’s field was one larger than the boys with 28 competitors. Quincy Massey-Beirman of Craftsbury/Mansfield skied a stellar performance to take her first Eastern Cup win with a time of 17:51. Nina Seeman of Stratton was hot on her heels with a time of 17:55. Liliane Gagnon of Skibec Nordique showed the depth of the Canadian contingent taking the third place position with a time of 18:08.
The open women’s field skied a separate 5km mass start with 65 athletes toeing the line. Leah Brams spent the entire race with the lead pack and pulled away in the later kilometers for a fifteen second victory in 16:59. Rena Schwartz of GMVS continues to be a threat in any distance race placing second with a time of 17:14. Catherine Reed-Metayer, again of Skibec Nordique, skied to third place in 17:20.
Stratton’s Ben Ogden was out for revenge after finishing third in Saturday’s heats. He strided to an impressive victory in the men’s 1okm. After skiing a tactical race with the lead pack he surged ahead and saluted the crowd with a “bow and arrow” gesture with his poles as he crossed the finish with a time of 29:20. Felix Longpre of Club Nordique MSA showed impressive classic form and moved up from his 11th place finish in the sprint to nab second place in 29:25. Peter Holmes of the University of New Hampshire climbed onto the last step of the podium with a time of 29:29.
The open stadium of the Fort Kent Outdoor Center and mid winter conditions set up a beautiful arena for each of the mass starts. The courses were meticulously groomed, offering fair racing for all on challenging terrain. Spectators and athletes alike forgot about the significant distance they had traveled because the experience provided by the venue and its staff was bar none.
New England U18/U20 rankings for will be updated in PDF form to the Rankings Page tomorrow as we are updating our database to provide improved functionality to the site.