Last weekend was a welcome storm of cross country skiing activity. Cold temperatures and low snow consolidated a four-race-three-day-weekend into one-three-race-Sunday. Nearly 700 skiers took part in NENSA Popular Racing events at the Weston Track, the Rikert Nordic Center and the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. There is a real thrill to these community gatherings where we gather to celebrating skiing and exercise friendly rivalries. Amid these tumultuous times it’s so nice to cheer on skiers while connecting with friends new and old. While we might still be masked at times you can see the smiles in peoples eyes. Keep up the good work and we’ll keep having safe events!
Race For Snow
On a chilly bluebird morning, skiers descended on the Leo J. Martin Ski Track for some communal fun. All the races were mass start, with Bill Koch aged skiers racing first on a 1km loop, doing either one, two, or three laps. Then came the lollipop skiers and their parents, making their way around the horseshoe shaped course followed by treats of the traditional post race lollipops. Next went the women’s 5km, then the men’s 5km racing around a 4 lap course. The final race of the morning was the mixed gender 10km, with 77 starters. All totaled 248 skiers competed in the event. While there were some fast juniors and masters pushing the pace at the front of each race, most of the competitors were happy to be racing and skiing for a good cause, some were even wearing party hats. Many of the skiers took turns cheering each other on as many of their families and friends competed throughout the morning. The event served as a fundraiser for 350.org, a climate action group based in Massachusetts. Kudos go out to the next generation of high school skiers who organized the well run event! This was the 6th edition of the event originally created by Tyler Lee who now skis for Dartmouth College.
Photography by Jamie Douchett
Silver Fox Trot
Originally hosted in Hanover, NH in honor of Al Merrill, the “Silver Fox” moved to the Rikert Nordic Center several years ago because of a reliable snowmaking system. It was a particularly fun to be a part of this years event because it was the first one Rikert was able to host since the Middlebury Carnival in 2020. Ford Sayre has figured out a perfect recipe for hosting a citizens race so to include lolly-poppers, nationally ranked skiers and masters in one day of non-stop action. Oh, and a complement of inflatable dinosaurs and chickens. Like the Race for Snow, club skiers past and present helped support the event throughout the day while getting to put on a bib when their time came.
The day started with waves Bill Koch skiers and culminated with a mass start with 94 adult skiers of all ages and abilities. The front of the race was fast and furious with juniors and some spry young masters jockeying for position on Rikert’s serpentine race course. While there was some excitement early on all the skiers navigated the course safely, many with smiles despite the hard effort. A recent bounty of snowmaking allowed for a fun button-hook finish straight and a lap lane that allowed spectators to line the trail — a welcome sight after a year of restrictions.
Over 150 racers toed the line on Sunday for the inaugural Craftsbury Scramble, a team sprint full of bumps, twists, and turns. The chilly temps were no match for the abundant sunshine, grinning faces, and heat radiating off the many, many waffle irons that threatened to short-circuit the entire Craftsbury campus. Races were mass started by group, which meant sending 30 racers at a time straight into a downhill, followed by a tight corner, slalom, and bumps. In the open men’s and women’s races, Craftsbury juniors showed their prowess in navigating the obstacles of Mount Craftsbury, taking home top honors. In the mixed division, however, recent biathlon retirees Alex Howe and Emily Dreissigacker proved that moving on to a life of farming doesn’t mean you can’t still ski fast. Most notably, the many couples who raced together as teams still appeared to like each other at the end of the races. In the BKL races, teams from around New England threw down, with many kids racing for their first time ever.
Highlights of the day included a post-race DIY waffle station with no fewer than 27 topping options, cookies for everyone, a prize raffle, sequined outfits, and some of the best cheering we’ve seen in years. An estimated 70 lbs of waffle batter were consumed in addition to at least 2 gallons of maple syrup.
Full results (by team name only!) can be found on the Craftsbury webscorer site.