This past weekend the New England Bill Koch League festival descended on Great Glen Trails in Gorham, NH. Nestled at the base of Mount Washington in Pinkham Notch, Great Glen was the perfect site for the event. High snow accumulations in the weeks leading up to the event set us up for an awesome festival, with amazing race courses maintained by the staff at Great Glen, and plenty of snow for all of the non competitive activities of the weekend.
Saturday morning dawned cold and gray, but that didn’t deter the 586 BKL skiers who took part in the weekend from getting out there and enjoying the snow! The day started with a parade led by Olympians Bill Koch and Ida Sargent. Skiers waved flags from their clubs and districts, and donned their favorite super hero costumes in keeping with the festival theme of Super Ski Heroes.
The main event from Saturday morning is the freestyle relay, with skiers completing one loop of the course before tagging off to their partner who skis a loop. This is a fun and exciting race, and in keeping with the fun spirit of the Bill Koch League no times are recorded, only order of finish.
There was a lot going on besides racing though, with many skiers taking advantage of the Nordic Adventure (non racing) activities throughout the day. These included a tubing hill, obstacle course, laser biathlon, Super Hero Ski Tour, and the “bump jump” presented by New England Ski Jumping Nordic Combined (NESJNC). The bump jump has been a staple of the festival in recent years and NENSA is thrilled to be able to partner with NESJNC to be able to help introduce a whole new generation of skiers to ski jumping!
On Sunday, festival attendees were treated to something special – the sun! The solar warmth was a welcome addition after a chilly Saturday; but the wind still blew through Pinkham Notch and skiers bundled up with puffies and buffs against the wind. With the gorgeous backdrop of the Presidential Range now in view, the Sunday morning individual classic races got underway. Thanks to the crack team at Bullit Timing and all of our wonderful volunteers the races went off without a hitch.
Sunday’s classic races were broken up by more fun activities, as well as an 8th grade graduation ceremony and the famous lollipop race. Graduating 8th graders followed Olympians Sue Wemyss and Bill Koch a short distance up the Mountain Washington Auto Road, before turning around and skiing down behind Bill to receive their certificate. Following graduation, the 8th graders lined up at the end of the lollipop race to hand out lollipops to the next generation of Bill Koch League skiers. It’s a wonderful tradition and a great way to cap off the BKL careers of the 8th graders, while kickstarting those of the lollipoppers.
Overall this was an amazing festival full of fun and excitement! We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the crew at Great Glen Trails, as well as all of the volunteers, sponsors, skiers, parents, coaches and everyone else who made the weekend what it was!