In 2014 NENSA began the tradition of honoring the top ranked male and female Eastern Cup skiers with the Gallagher Cup. NENSA is honored to announce that Rena Schwartz (GMVS) and James Kitch (CSU) are the 2018 Eastern Cup Champions – their inspired efforts are a perfect way to celebrate Mike Gallagher’s legacy as an athlete, coach, and community leader. The two skiers who win this award each year do so by being consistently dominant in New England’s premier race series (winners are determined by averaging points from 7 of 8 EC events).
Rena Schwartz skied for the Green Mountain Valley School, raced in seven Eastern Cup races, with one victory and three podiums, and ended the year atop the New England Junior National Ranking List. She competed at Junior Nationals with a top finish of 4th place in the 10km freestyle event. Schwartz also competed at US Cross Country Championships and Super Tour Finals ending the year the 51st ranked female skier in the country.
Coach, Colin Rodgers, describes Schwartz as a leader, “Rena is an impressive role model for all of the student/athletes on the team, and her drive for success motivates those around her. Not only does she have extraordinary competitive results, but Rena is a pleasure to spend time with, exuberating kindness, honesty, and dependability. If you ask anything of Rena, you can expect it to be done with focus and attention to detail.” Outside of skiing, Schwartz was the Vermont cross-country running champion and a Gatorade Runner of the year, where she won a $10,000 spotlight award to donate to her club of choice (Craftsbury Outdoor Center).
James Kitch, from the Cambridge Sports Union, competed in all eight Eastern Cup races, where he was consistently in the top-10, and finished 5th on the year-end New England Junior National Ranking List. Kitch saved his best game for the 2018 Junior National Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah where he had two top-ten distance finishes, scrambled for the winning U18 relay team, and won his first National Championship in the freestyle sprint. At the conclusion of the 2018 season he is the 82nd ranked male skier in the country.
CSU coach, Rob Bradlee, describes James as someone, “who correctly assumes that everyone would like to be his friend and so treats everyone regardless of age or status with equal respect and affection. He has been a leader in CSU and on Team New England in creating a positive team vibe. He pushes himself hard to be his very best and competes not to beat others but to explore how fast he can be. I think he became a national champion because that attitude kept his mind open to possibilities and he could see opportunity when it presented itself.”
We congratulate these skiers and thank them for reminding us of Mike Gallagher’s competitive spirit. Mike was a three-time Olympic cross-country skier and the Head Coach of the US Ski Team from 1980-86. You can read more about Gallagher here on fasterskier.com