Mountain Top Inn & Resort hosted a fantastic U16 Eastern Championship last weekend under sunny skies. The event featured three days of racing: Friday afternoon distance freestyle, Saturday morning distance classic, Saturday afternoon freestyle sprint, and a Sunday morning mixed technique, mixed gender relay. Teams from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York competed for team points over the weekend. The team with the highest number of points after three days of racing is awarded the historic J2 Cup. We also had guest teams from the Midwest and Great Lakes Divisions of CXC joining us for the weekend.
Guest skiers don’t score team points, but are awarded points in the individual events. Skiers from Great Lakes and Midwest were awarded several top 10s in the individual events over the weekend. We have loved having guest skiers join us at U16s; it makes the event a little more exciting and increases the level of competition for everyone involved. The midwest teams have been joining us at U16s for several years, and this will be the first year that they also bring skiers to Eastern High School Championships in North Creek, NY on March 13 – 15.
Friday afternoon at U16s kicked off with the individual freestyle race in fairly warm conditions. Skiers had to stay light on their feet as the snow turned soft over the course of the races. Despite a dearth of snow down in the valley below, Mountain Top was blessed with great coverage on all of their trails throughout the weekend. Skiers put in strong performances in both girls and boys races, and after a short podium ceremony they headed back to their lodging to rest up for a busy doubleheader on Saturday.
Saturday morning dawned cold but sunny, with a light dusting of snow overnight and the impeccable grooming of the Mountain Top crew it was a great day for a classic race. Skiers went off in waves every minute, meaning there was no shortage of excitement out on the narrow sections of the course. Both of the distance races featured a long climb followed by a fast descent with some rolling terrain throughout. It was an absolutely bluebird day, and as skiers made their way through the field near the stadium spectators were treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains as well.
After a few hours to rest and recuperate, the afternoon kicked off with a freestyle sprint. This was a fast and fun course, and much like on Friday the skiers with good balance and agility were rewarded as they raced through the challenging course. The sprint is a fun event to watch, and it’s amazing to see skiers put in such strong performances after a tiring morning of classic racing on a hilly course. The day concluded with a hearty meal and awards in Mountain Top’s beautiful barn, before skiers went home to rest up for the final event of the weekend.
Sunday is by far the most exciting and fast paced day of the U16 Eastern Championship. It features a mixed technique, mixed gender relay where skiers compete for team points in teams of four. The race starts with a girls classic leg, followed by a boys classic leg; then girls freestyle followed by boys freestyle. The tag zone was a whirlwind but thanks to great organization by coaches and race officials everyone was able to find their teammates and make clean tags to send them off on their way. The relay is a great way to end the weekend, it stresses the importance of team over individual results; and teaches skiers to collaborate with others that they may have just met.
Sunday’s awards ceremony was held outdoors under warm blue skies. Awards for the relay were given out, as well as awards for the top three overall skiers from the individual standings. These skiers were treated to quarts of maple syrup made by Mountain Top’s own Roger Hill from sap collected from trees on the Mountain Top property. It was a special way to send those skiers home with a little something more than a medal to remember the event by.
The team scores this year were closer than they have been in recent years which made for an exciting weekend of back and forth leading among the states. New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine were all within a few hundred points of each when the final points were tallied up at the end of the day. The overall state winner for the event was Vermont, who scored 14,989 points over the course of the weekend.
NENSA would like to give a big congratulations to all of our skiers as well as the parents, coaches, volunteers, race officials, timers and team leaders who helped make this weekend such a success!
Full results from the weekend can be found at http://data.bullitttiming.com/events/2020/U16s/index.html