2019 App Gap Challenge

The Tenth Running of the Gap

The high point of the Appalachian Gap in Waitsfield, VT sits more than 1600’ vertical feet above the valley below. To get there, Vermont Route 17 snakes its way from the valley floor up past Mad River Glen Ski area before topping out at 2,375 feet above sea level. The road is steep, winding, and has the reputation of being one seriously impressive climb. On Saturday August 3, this uphill stretch of pavement was the proving ground for skiers from across North America who came to ski the App Gap Challenge.

The race is hosted by the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), and is the first race of six in the NENSA High Peaks Cyclery Rollerski Series presented by Skitrax Magazine.

The idea of the App Gap Challenge is simple enough; an uphill rollerski skiathlon with competitors doing a skate leg before transitioning to classic skis for the final push to the summit. But if you were to look at the faces of the competitors making their way up the gap,  you would know that completing this race is no simple feat. 

Competitors stage for their event shuttles to the start of the 2019 App Gap Challenge. (Noon photo)

By the start time at 9:30 the sun was beating down on the pavement and the day was beginning to feel hot. The touring division started the day off with a handful of skiers who took advantage of the lane closure and the rare opportunity to rollerksi the gap uninhibited by cars. They were followed by the open and junior men’s field who skied a 7.5k course, and then the open and junior women’s field who skied a 5k course. The final starters of the day were waves of elite men and women who started in waves of 10, all skiing a 7.5k course on sets of matched rollerskis provided by Swenor.

Caitlin Patterson (GRP/USST) leads Sophie Caldwell (SMST2/USST), Lina Sutro (UVM) and Katharine Ogden (Dartmouth/SMST2) in the freestyle portion of the race. (Reese Brown – xcski.org)

The competitor field has grown in size and strength every year. This year saw more than 180 skiers toe the line, with members of the US Ski Team, SMS T2, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, and junior and college skiers from across the United States.

The Elite B seed included senior and junior athletes including Elliot Ketchel (Bowdoin College) who might have the most total App Gap starts (front left) and right Josh Valentine (GMVS alum), Raleigh Goessling (GRP Biathlon), Adam Glueck (Dartmouth) and Trey Jones (GMVS). Hidden from picture 2020 Youth Olympic Games competitors Will Koch (SMS) and Brian Bushey (GMVS). (Reese Brown – xcski.org)

For the second year in a row, the women’s course record fell; which truly shows the strength of the field and the increased popularity of the race. The women’s podium was made up of Katherine Ogden of Dartmouth College/SMS T2 in first place, followed by Sophie Caldwell of SMS T2/USST in second place, and Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury Green Racing Project/USST in third place.

Caitlin Patterson 3rd, Katharine Ogden 1st, Sophie Caldwell 2nd. (Reese Brown – xcski.org)

On the men’s side, the race was won by Simi Hamilton of SMS T2/USST. Ben Lustgarden of Craftsbury Green Racing Project took second place, followed by teammate Adam Martin also of Craftsbury Green Racing Project in third place.

Open Men’s podium. Adam Martin (GRP) 3rd, Simi Hamilton (SMST2/USST) 1st and Ben Lustgarten (GRP) 2nd. All elite seed skiers skied on #2 Swenor Skate Long and Alutech Classic skis provided by NENSA and EnjoyWinter. (Reese Brown – xcski.org)

Full results can be found at Bart Timing . Photos courtesy of Reese Brown of SIA.

The men’s masters winner was Eli Enman, followed by Joel Bradley in second place and Reid Greenberg in third place.

Masters Men podium: Joel Bradley (Ford Sayre) 2nd, Eli Enman (NWVE/Rossignol) 1st and Reid Greenberg (Ethan Allen Biathlon/BagBalm) 3rd. (Smith photo)

The women’s masters podium was made up of Kathy Maddock in first place, followed by Alex Jospe in second place and Tristin Adie in third place. 

Women’s Masters podium. Alex Jospe (CSU/SMS) 2nd, Kathy Maddock (Dublin XC) 1st and Tristin Adie (Mansfield Nordic) 3rd. (Smith photo)
Open Women’s Short Course: Ursula Volz (Harvard) 2nd, Avery Ellis (Middlebury) 1st and Hillary McNamee (Ford Sayre) 3rd. (Smith photo)
NENSA staff at the transition. (Huseby photo)

 

Race and Competitive Program Program Director, Justin Beckwith, crowns Mr. Hamilton. (Smith photo)
The Nokian Tyres transition zone in the parking lot of Mad River Glen. (Smith photo)
2019 NENSA Award winners in attendance. Sverre Caldwell (SMS) – John Caldwell Award, Frost Mountain skiers – Club of the Year, Pennie Rand (Cochran’s) – Chummy Broomhall Award, Callie Young (Dartmouth) and Josh Valentine (GMVS) – Mike Gallagher Award. (Smith photo)
There is increased industry presence at NENSA events – here fun loving Wisconsinite, Jacob Huseby, from EnjoyWinter brands hams it up with NENSA staff. Special thanks to these local businesses for supporting the event: Mad River Glen, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Bag Balm, The Swanson Inn, Green Mountain Valley School, Hyde Away Inn, Sage Restaurant, Deerfield Designs, Washington County Sheriff’s, Sabouyouma, High Peaks Cyclery, The Valley Reporter, Local Folks Smokehouse and Falcon Filming.

Continued story and pictures from our presenting media sponsor Skitrax Magazine.