As we entered into a season of uncertainty Kathy and Marty Hall reached out to support NENSA, athletes and clubs. “It is with great pride that we give these dollars to join the fray and journey to international success.” Originally, $5000 was earmarked for the top club throughout designated rollerski, Eastern Cup and Popular races, with another $5000 designated for FIS prize money. As the season continued to evolve it wasn’t clear how many FIS races would happen and the money shifted with $9000 ($5000 – 1st, $3000 – 2nd, $1000 – 3rd) to support the club competition. The Kendall Cup FIS race at Craftsbury paid out $1300 for the top-3 men and women in the field.
So back to the A Hall Mark of Excellence – this new award changed the way we scored typical Club Cup. The new system brought together competitions across the spectrum of our racing programs — allowing clubs with junior athletes, colleges and those with robust masters programs to stack up against each other. The intention of the competition is to reward participation as well as excellence. Despite the change in scoring — four powerhouse teams, Eastern Mass Nordic (CSU), Craftsbury, Ford Sayre and Mansfield Nordic have been consistently in the top 5 clubs for the past three years — this is a testament to not just their size, but also the breadth of their programming. While travel restrictions affected what races athletes could attend it was really cool to see GMVS, SMS and the Quarry Road Ski Club crack the top ten for the first time because junior racing was included. Dublin XC and Gunstock Nordic also had their highest placing to date. We did score college teams although their participation as teams was perhaps the heaviest hit by pandemic restrictions – we certainly look forward to colleges showing their depth next season.
In the fight for the top spots Eastern Mass Nordic (CSU), Craftsbury, Ford Sayre and Mansfield Nordic jockeyed throughout the season. Each club had their strengths, but it was likely the depth of the Craftsbury junior skiers that sealed the deal for our amazing partners in Northern Vermont. Mansfield Nordic, who has developed a robust system to capture Club points in popular races, along with a talented junior squad, pulled together for a solid second place finish. Ford Sayre finished in third after a valiant fight with club members divided east and west of the Connecticut River. The renewed CSU, now known as Eastern Mass Nordic – and also a Club standings stalwart – capitalized on the events they were able to attend as well as hosting the Virtual Race for Snow. The Race for Snow should be noted as one of the largest participation events of the season – pretty cool for a student created and organized competition!
As we reflect on a most unusual season we are so grateful for the generosity and commitment the Hall’s have for the sport of cross-country skiing! The Hall’s vision to reward participation and excellence across all levels of programming as that ultimately creates the opportunities and inspiration for international success. They also hope that their philanthropy will inspire others to step up and help the next generation of our beloved sport.
NENSA staff and committees have begun reflecting on this season and planning for the next. While Club scoring might receive a few tweaks, or perhaps have new categories created – we are thrilled by this system that better captures the full scope of NENSA competitions. As some of our diehard skiers are still sneaking in a few strides or turns we are busy working on a return of a rollerski series. We’ll see you soon for #25KinMay!