This past weekend 114 hearty humans braved the wet weather at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, VT and competed in Sunday’s Free Fall Rollerski Race!
The FreeFall has become a staple of NENSA’s roller series and always draws a competitive and fun crowd. Open racers were slated for a 15km and juniors a 5km — both utilizing the same full 5km race loop which includes some sporty downhills. Minutes before the men’s start it began to rain and the track became slick. Racers took the challenge in stride and navigated downhills, and slippery ups, with varied tactics. At the finish there were unfortunately more DNF’s due to falls than we have ever experienced — but the overwhelming feedback was that was “wild fun” and “really hard.” Before the women’s race the Jury made the decision to eliminate the furthest loop and eliminate the most technical downhill on the course for safety reasons. The women contested an 11.5km course. Both races saw a really awesome overlap of juniors, collegiate and elite level skiers.
In the men’s race the top of the field included a rematch of US Ski Team athletes, Johnny Hagenbuch (Dartmouth) and Ben Ogden (UVM). Although Ogden had just returned from impressive international races at Toppidrettsveka, it was Hagenbuch who prevailed for the second year in a row with a time of 34:20. Johnny described his tactic to fend off Ogden as starting faster than he usually would and then treating each lap as a six minute interval in the hardest part of the course. Times were nearly two minutes slower than 2021 due to heavy rainfall and a wet track. Also of note was UVM freshman, Petter Bakken (son of the legendary Thorodd Bakken), who placed third, less than a minute behind Ogden.
The women’s race was equally talented at the top end featuring a fun rivalry between the US Ski Team’s Julia Kern (SMS T2) and US Biathlon’s Deedra Irwin (National Guard Biathlon). Kern missed the 2021 event and came to 2022 psyched to visit the Ethan Allen venue for the first time in ten years, a place she noted she has fond memories of. Kern left the gate first and used her powerful technique to log the fastest splits for all three laps. We were thrilled to have Irwin join our race, and she was “really redlining” to show her fitness on her home track and push her limits against the cross country specialists. Kern covered the course in 27:55, just shy of a minute faster than Irwin. U20 Haley Brewster (UVM) put in an impressive performance to take the final spot on the podium.
While NENSA races draw some of the best skiers in the country, every event is intended to accommodate all levels of skiers and development. Due to the slippery conditions, both the juniors and recreational or masters skiers were treated to a dual start 6km course that eliminated the trickiest of downhills on the track. Despite increased rain, the stoke of the juniors and masters was contagious. USST World Cup Coach Matt Whitcomb was present throughout the junior race and remarked how impressed he was with the skiing he saw, and how similar NENSA rollerski events are to what he just witnessed in Norway.
Congrats to everyone who competed in this event, and a big thank you to the Adam Terko and the Mansfield Nordic Club, the Ethan Allen firing Range, and all the awesome volunteers that came out to help. We are also very grateful to Bullitt Timing for their exceptional services.
In addition the incredible support we receive from our NENSA associate sponsors – Salomon, LL Bean, Swix, and Fischer – we are also grateful to Enjoy Winter and Swenor Rollerskis for supplying NENSA with an awesome fleet of rollerskis so the top-seeded athletes in all our events have matched skis. All women and juniors, and 35 men raced on matched skis. And no NENSA rollerski race would be complete without the exceedingly tasty support of Cabot who has generously donated cheese for this season’s podium finishers! Full results and top-3 highlights below as well as a photo album courtesy of Paul Bierman.
The Free Fall was the third race of our seven race series. Next up we head to the Castle Conquest New York for an exciting double header weekend in Lake Placid featuring the Keys to the Castle Freestyle Sprint on September 24th and the legendary Climb to the Castle freestyle hill climb on September 25th. There is also a biathlon race and free BKL learn-to-rollerski opportunity on Saturday at Mt Van Hoevenberg. Details and registration HERE. You can view our full 2022 rollerski line up HERE.
1. Julia Kern, SMS T2 / US Ski Team
2. Deedra Irwin, National Guard Biathlon / US Biathlon Team
3. Haley Brewster, UVM Ski Team
1. Emma Reeder, Dartmouth
2.Ava Thurston, Dartmouth
3. Camille Bolduc, University of Vermont
1. Luke Allen, Dartmouth
2. Cooper Camp, Dartmouth
3. Alexandre Cormier, Fondeurs-Laurentides
1. Nyla Scott, Gould Academy
2. Kate Carlson, Mansfield Nordic Club / EABC
3. Ruth Krebs, Craftsbury Nordic Club