Day 1: Freestyle Sprint
Saturday we kicked off NENSA’s Eastern Cup Series at the Quarry Road Trails with freestyle sprints. In the last two weeks the snowmaking crew continued their hard efforts to provide a challenging sprint loop, plus a 500m warmup loop. A slightly shorter course made for some blistering fast times, with the open men’s qualifier being won in 2:14; the top woman was not far behind with a time of 2:45.
After qualifying in the morning, the open men’s and women’s heats got underway at noon. Followed by the U18/U20 and U16 age group heats. The theme of the afternoon was movement – no lead or position in the heats were safe. Sugary, but fast snow made drafting and choice of line more important than normal. Heat after heat spectators and coaches cheered on their athletes as positions changed and early leads faded. It made for some very dramatic and exciting races!
“This event on this course is my favorite of the whole season – I’ve been looking forward to it all year!” – Avery Ellis.
Many racers shared her enthusiasm. It was especially noticeable when skiers who had completed qualifying, walked back by the start area and very excitedly told their teammates: “You have to hammer, it’s so short and so fast,” with big smiles on their faces. For most this was the largest ski race they have been in since March of 2020, with just shy of 300 races in the sprint!
The women’s heats were controlled from the front by Dartmouth’s Callie Young, whose high tempo couldn’t be matched. She was followed by strong performances from Ava Thurston of Mansfield Nordic (2nd) and Avery Ellis of Middlebury (3rd).
Daniel Streinz of NMU put on quite a show in the men’s heats. In the final, he comfortably cruised across the finish line gapping the remaining competitors. Behind him, Stratton skiers Fin Bailey and Will Koch battled it out to the line, with Bailey out lunging Koch for second and third.
The results of the U16 boy’s heats were not determined until the final lunge, where Stratton’s Micah Bruner (1st) edged out Quarry Road’s Ellis Slover (2nd). Brady Morigeau of Mansfield Nordic secured third.
In the U16 girl’s heats, Julia Thurstand of Mansfield Nordic took the win, with Beth McIntosh of Frost Mountain Nordic in second. Sadie Bell of the Putney School claimed third position.
Stratton skiers Janne Koch and Jack Lange duked it out with EMXC’s Sam Gallaudet for top spot in the U18/U20 boy’s heats, with Koch leading the way. Lange was second and Gallaudet finished third.
Grace Mattern of Rochester Nordic led the way in the U18/U20 girl’s heats, with Stratton’s Maddie Hooker (2nd) and Liza Bell (3rd) nipping at her heels.
Video of Women’s Qualification.
Video of Men’s Qualification.
Day 2: Interval Start Classic
A fresh blanket of snow overnight turned Quarry Road into a winter wonderland. It also made for soft tracks and challenging waxing conditions. The classic races were run on the 1.6km loop, with either 3 laps for 5km or 6 laps for 10km. The short loops made for a very festive atmosphere, with much of the course packed with spectators, coaches, and cheering teammates. The cheering squad on Hero hill was particularly loud and energetic!
Video of Men’s Races on Sunday.
In the open women’s 5km race, junior skiers made their presence known. U20 skier Annie McColgan of the UVM was the third junior (6th overall), just five seconds behind second junior Emma Strack of St. Lawrence (4th overall). Mansfield’s Ava Thurston, wearing bib one, set the pace for the day, with the slimmest of margins of Dartmouth’s Callie Young. At the end of the day, Thurston held on by 0.6 seconds for first overall and top junior, with Young finishing second overall and top senior racer. UNH’s Luci Anderson and Middlebury’s Avery Ellis both had quick starts, holding roughly the same pace through two laps. Anderson had the stronger final lap finishing third overall (2nd senior), while Ellis came in fifth overall (3rd senior).
Mixed in with the open women, the U16 girls had strong performances, finishing just outside the top 30 overall. Mansfield’s Julia Thurston set a fast steady pace to take the early lead. A late surge from Craftsbury’s Amelia Circosta was enough to take the win over Thurston (2nd) by 0.4seconds. Eight seconds behind Circosta was teammate Anika Leahy in third.
The U16’s boys race saw a dominating performance by GMVS’s Tabor Greenberg, who jumped out to a large lead on the first lap, which kept growing to the finish. Behind him there was a close battle between Stratton’s Mich Bruner, Quarry Road’s Ellis Slover, Mansfield’s Brady Morigeau, and Gunstock’s Tyler Watt for the next four positions. Bruner put in a strong move on the second lap to secure second place. Slover and Watt had strong second laps. Slover’s fast final lap was enough to hold off Morigeau and Watt for third place.
Junior racer Will Koch of SMST2 jumped out to an early lead in the open men’s race. Another junior racer, UVM’s Fin Sweet shadowed him, but was not able to close the gap, eventually finishing eight seconds behind Koch in second overall. Leading the senior racers was UVM skier Greg Burt in third overall. William Kerker of Colby College had a strong showing for fourth overall (2nd senior), with Middlebury’s Sam Hodge rounding out the senior podium (7th overall). Meanwhile, Jack Lange of Stratton slipped into 5th overall and claimed the final spot on the junior podium.
Also recognized were the top two Maine high school boys and girls, in honor of Roy Varney’s memory. Present to give out awards where Roy’s family and coach. For both days the girls top honors went to Quarry Road skiers Emma Charles and Brynne Robbins. The boys awards went to Ellis Slover and Caden Cote, also both of the Quarry Road Ski Club.
Among the highlights of the weekend were strong team performances in the Club Cup. Leading the way in the U16 Girls category was the Craftsbury Ski Club with 186 points, followed by Mansfield Nordic Club (2nd) with 153 points and Ford Sayre (3rd) with 148 points. For the U16 Boys category it was Mansfield Nordic Club taking top spot with 299 points, followed by EMXC (2nd) with 233 points and Berkshire Nordic (3rd) with 209 points. In the U18/U20 Girls category, Mansfield Nordic continued to show their strength with 580 points, followed by Craftsbury Ski Club (2nd) with 527 points and EMXC (3rd) with 504 points. On the U18/U20 Boys side, it was a different story, with ski academies and college teams vying for top spot. Stratton took the lead with 470 points to second place GMVS’s 426 points, followed by Colby College (3rd) with 406 points. In the combined junior Club rankings, EMXC (2nd) held off the Craftsbury Nordic Club (3rd) by three points, with 1482 to 1479 points respectively. Claiming top spot for Eastern Cup #1 was the Mansfield Nordic Club with a commanding 1692 points.
Link to race results
Link to Flying Point Road photos
Link to the Junior Ranking List
Link to Club points
Up next the NENSA Popular Series moves to Jackson, NH for the Jackson Jaunt on January 2nd, followed by the Bogburn on January 8th.