The Covid-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to NENSA’s 2020-21 winter event schedule. We are committed to hosting races and will make every effort to safely put on events in whatever form they might take. Our first objective is to ensure the health of our community in New England. Our second objective is to host our major events: Eastern Cups, Popular Races, U16 and Eastern High School Championships, the Bill Koch Festival, and Women’s Day as scheduled. To further foster excitement and an inclusive and community-centric atmosphere around skiing, NENSA will also be organizing some new fun season long challenges and goal-oriented activities. Skiers are encouraged to limit their travel and attend events that are within their region and state.
State and regional guidelines will dictate how we conduct events. We understand that the course of this pandemic, and thus the guidelines put in place to keep us safe, might not progress linearly. While the nature of competition will remain the same, we must operate our events in a manner that ensures the safety of all athletes, volunteers, staff and the communities in which our events are held until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Below you will find detailed information about different contingency plans – please note all of these outlines require that participants abide by the New England Cross Country Promise (NECCP) – failing to follow these guidelines may warrant removal from an event and jeopardizes our community and the entire event calendar. Our goal is to be transparent and keep our community informed and up-to-date on our evolving thoughts and plans. Please note participation may be limited by what state and/or county you are coming from and the duration of your stay (ie. day trips vs. lodging).
Eastern Cup Contingencies:
Plan 1 – Individual start distance races and spreading out start times by age group to minimize the number of persons physically at the venue at any point in time following Covid guidelines and NECCP. Competitors must complete an Event Health Screen form on Wednesday night including temperature check. Upon arrival at the venue competitors must pass a verbal health screen before unloading from their vehicle. Please note spectators will be limited (or restricted to their vehicles), there could be limited coach access to courses, there will be no indoor spaces provided by the venue, wax areas will be monitored for physical distance, and bathrooms will be assigned by state. Volunteer and event staff will be reduced in number. There will be no NENSA sanctioned mass start or sprint competitions this season. We respectively ask that all persons at the venue must wear a face covering and cover their mouth and nose at all times. Athletes/coaches must cover their nose and mouth in the start and finish area and if they are within 6 ft of another individual on course.
Beginning October 1st competitors will be able to purchase their 2021 race bib and an assigned timing chip to allow for a touchless registration and timing system. There will be no day of race registration. Registration refunds will be offered until 5pm on the Friday before the event. Results will only be published online and there will be no physical award ceremonies. Events will be recorded at several locations to help facilitate spectating and provide coaches with footage for reviewing performances.
Plan 2 – Alternate dates and/or venues – moving EC’s to February or early March when we could re-emerge from potential early/mid-winter quarantine and or venue closures.
Plan 3 – Regional races within states in New England – states determine “Championship” Teams. We recognize that the naming of the New England Junior National Team and regional ranking are major goals of many junior competitors. Regardless of the shape our event seasons take, NENSA will make every effort to celebrate athletes as we normally do to ensure continuity and incentive to all competitors. In this vein it is important for all athletes, parents and coaches to understand that NENSA’s number one goal is to offer competition to our members and we need to work together to make it through this time of uncertainty.
Plan 4 – Events will take place over a nine day period commencing on the original scheduled date for the event. Competitors will register as normal and sign up for a timeslot to visit the venue to complete their race. Racers will wear their bib and use their own timing chips for identification. Courses, including timing implements, will be maintained and marshalled by NENSA and timing staff throughout the period. Results will be posted online and competitors will have 24 hours to file protests/corrections via email. Competitors are strongly encouraged to wear fitness trackers to monitor their efforts and ensure all competitors have skied the correct course.
NENSA feels it is important to promote local and regional racing and encourage competitors to minimize the distances they travel this winter. Many popular races traditionally have race fields less than 100 competitors and by nature allow for less skier density at a venue. With over 20 events typically on the Zak and Club Cup calendar there are “local” options for most of our skiers. Competitors should carefully evaluate inter-state travel and are encouraged to be self reliant (ie. traveling with food and limiting restaurant and convenience store visits and use of lodging outside of their state).
NENSA will work with Popular Race organizers individually to gauge safety concerns and current willingness to host events. Many of the same considerations used for Eastern Cup and our Championship events are applicable to Popular Races. Alternative formats such as the rolling start used by the Long Haul Loppet last winter should be encouraged as they reduce skier density and have proven popular with competitors for convenience and now safety!
Women’s Day, U16 Champs, EHSC, and BKL Festival: We have a detailed draft of contingency plans for each of these events that we are still fine-tuning. These plans will be published later this summer after we work out a few more details and integrate feedback from host venues.
New Community Events: These events are in the beginning phases of planning and are subject to change but we wanted to give a glimpse of what we are cooking up. Stay tuned for updates!
State Passport – Get a Cross Country Center passport for your state and see how many you can check off during the whole season! Additional challenges might include skiing a certain number of kilometers at each Center or skiing all their open trails.
Ski for Ks – See how many kilometers you can log this winter individually, as a club, and as a region. Similar challenge with elevation gained. Can NENSA members collectively ski one million kilometers this winter?
NENSA Community Time Trials – Race 5k every week throughout the winter. Anyone can participate. Self-timed, or timed as part of your own club’s citizen race series, and reported to NENSA. Course must be a loop or an out-and-back. Participation leaderboards maintained by NENSA.