In 2014 NENSA began the tradition of honoring the top ranked male and female Eastern Cup skiers with the Gallagher Award. NENSA is pleased to announce that Abigail Streinz (Fort Kent Outdoor Center) and Will Koch (University of Colorado) are the 2020 Eastern Cup Champions – their inspired efforts are a perfect way to celebrate Mike Gallagher’s legacy as an athlete, coach, and community leader. The two skiers who win this award each year do so by being consistently dominant in New England’s premier race series (winners are determined by the lowest average points from seven of the nine EC events).
This year’s winners are both soft spoken leaders among their peers — and exhibit the grit and creativity needed to be successful in the sport of cross country skiing. Whether they are “taking full advantage of the weather and landscapes available .. in the boonies of northern Maine” or developing “50km over distance workouts on a unicycle or “inventing” a three hour strength in the gym,” Streinz and Koch march to their own beat.
Abbee skied last season with the Craftsbury junior squad where she was a consistent top-ten skier and had two podium finishes. In her two races at Junior Nationals in Truckee, California she placed second in the U20 sprint and sixth in the individual classic.
“Abbee is a super hard-working skier who finds the motivation to do a whole lot of training all on her own. She’s straight up tough, totally unafraid to do the hard work in gnarly conditions, and doesn’t shy away from training her weaknesses. One of my favorite things about Abbee is that she’s incredibly humble, too—you’d never know that she’s a ripping fast skier just by talking to her. Abbee’s also awesome at stepping up and doing the not-super-fun tasks on team trips, like making dinner, doing the dishes, and generally making sure that the team can keep functioning. It goes along with her “get it done” mentality. It’s great to see her earn the Gallagher Award!” Anna Schulz, Craftsbury
5. XC skiing is really a family sport with the Streinz clan, Dad was a competitive swimmer, but there are no pools in Hersey Maine, but lots of snow, so you ski!
Will Koch who hails from the Stratton Mountain School program was a stalwart competitor on the Eastern Cup circuit for four years. This season he found himself on the podium five times including three victories. The highlight of his young career to date came at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne and Valle de Joux in Switzerland where he earned a bronze medal in the 10K classic last January. Will also went on to win the classic race at Junior Nationals and place second in the sprint.
“I only had the pleasure of working with Will for one year, but his work ethic, attention to detail, and respect for his teammates impressed me.” Alex Jospe
“As a coach, it has been rewarding to see Will’s development as a young athlete throughout the years. From the early days as a winter term student coming out and chasing around the senior T2 Athletes on roller skis and snow, to now coming into his own as one of our countries top junior’s, Will’s development has been his based on his strong work ethic, creativity and playfulness. He is there hammering hard with our group on interval days, but equally at home on a 7 hour adventure run across the Green Mountain Forest. His holistic and mature approach to training and skiing is something all New England Junior athletes should aspire to. You have to do the hard work, but you need to love and enjoy the process to make it in this sport!” Patrick O’Brien
“What sticks out most to me with Will is that he is a student of the sport. He doesn’t want to just know what to so, he wants to know why. When you know why, you can take ownership of what you are doing.” Sverre Caldwell
We congratulate these skiers and thank them for reminding us of Mike Gallagher’s competitive spirit. Mike was a three-time Olympic cross-country skier and the Head Coach of the US Ski Team from 1980-86. You can read more about Gallagher here on fasterskier.com