On April 7th Cochran’s Ski Area, in Richmond, Vermont hosted their 5th annual Nordic Cross event. Registration was closed after 200 competitors signed up! The event always draws a diverse field with top collegiate and club racers (more than a handful with international experience), juniors, masters and local legends of both XC and Alpine skiing in attendance. Although each addition of the event has grown, this year there was an explosion of energy, both in the course design and participation. For 2019 skiers were enticed to try the “pond jump” and a set of five “whoops” that increased both the challenge of the course and the excitement for spectators. Perhaps more impressive than the terrain was the turnout — the once local race has now become a regional phenomenon.
Although the Cochran’s race is held on an alpine mountain, with its start at a higher elevation than the finish, the course is just as demanding aerobically as it is technically. The combination of fast descents and solid climbs create a brutal demand on the legs. At the finish it is quite common to hear racers exclaim, “That was the hardest race I did all YEAR!” And that’s a lot to say for a eight to ten minute effort.
While the Cochran’s event is a celebration of the season and the skiing community there is no doubt that skills are being learned by all the competitors. Many chose to wear costumes to disguise their intents – but it’s fair to say all the racers gave it their all in search of bragging rights or just to push their personal boundaries! All fun aside, Cochran’s event is quite relevant in the current state of cross country skiing and the skill of New England skiers are certainly some of the best in the US and perhaps the world. This year we saw terrain features popping up at many of our touring centers and Cross events have now been a part of the BKL Festival, U16 and Eastern High School Championships. NENSA strongly supports this format and hopes that it will continue to help skiers develop technical skills, and draw attention and new participants to our sport.
Cross Country Cross, or the addition of exciting terrain and obstacles into a traditional ski course, is slowly creeping it’s way into mainstream. In May of 2017 FIS published guidelines to try and define this exciting development:
Cross-Country Cross is a competition where competitors compete on a cross–country ski
course that includes both traditional and non-traditional elements such as natural and
artificial terrain features, corridors, obstacles and tight turns, as well as different natural or
artificial types of turns, jumps, waves and other skiing terrain features or obstacles.
Our hats are off to Pennie Rand and Cochran’s Ski Area for helping push the level of skiing forward! We can’t wait to see what 2020 holds!!