NENSA is thrilled to announce that Swix has renewed their partnership with NENSA with a 3-year sponsorship including increasing their financial commitment to us. Swix is the official fluor-free wax of NENSA and we are thrilled to partner with Swix to commit to a fluoro-free future.
“The decision to extend and elevate our financial support for NENSA over the next 3 years was an easy decision when I see this vibrant cross country skiing organization inspiring and empowering lifelong learning and development in the sport of Nordic skiing. Amie Smith and her great staff have done an astonishing job, especially in these challenging times. As we enter into this upcoming fluoro-free season I support NENSA’s goal to preserve and protect the environment and our outdoor playground” ~Steve Poulin, President/CEO at BRAV/Swix Sport USA
Through long-standing sponsorship of New England Nordic Ski Association, Swix is proud to support NENSA programing, from the Bill Koch Festival to the New England Junior National Team and beyond.
This coming season Swix, Salomon and L.L. Bean will return as sponsors, their support visible in the new all-lycra racing bibs used at Eastern Cups, Bill Koch League Events, the U16 & Eastern High School Championships, REG Camp and our Rollerski Race Series.
Swix is also the Official Performance Techwear of the New England Junior National Team, which includes the race kit, hats, jackets, and a sharp dressed coaching and waxing staff. Additionally, Swix will continue to be the official sponsor of the Bill Koch League Apparel program, available to all NENSA BKL Clubs.
“Swix understands our mission and our vision to promote the culture of cross-country skiing by creating opportunities for youth, athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all levels…….and with the added support from sponsors like Swix we can achieve these goals as a united ski community. Thank you Swix” ~Amie W. Smith, Executive Director, NENSA
About Swix Sport:
Swix is a Norwegian manufacturing company of winter sports equipment, headquartered in Lillehammer. Range of products by Swix include ski wax, ski poles and sportswear. Swix is one of very few Norwegian consumers’ products to be found in shops all over the world having snow and winter.
Drizzle. Wind. Sweat. Mud. Swix is for everyone who loves training in all conditions. Since 1946, Swix has been testing and developing products for a multitude of conditions, not only for Alpine Skiing and Nordic Skiing, but outdoor activities in general. We knows what it takes to be the best and how to look good doing it. We call this SWIXFACTOR. – INSPIRED BY DREAMS
About the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA):
The New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) is the umbrella organization for Nordic skiing events in the region. We are a member-supported service organization that promotes the culture of cross-country skiing by creating opportunities for youth, athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all levels. NENSA provides the support structure necessary to bring cross-country skiers to their highest potential at regional, national and international events.
NENSA VISION: Be a vibrant cross country skiing organization that inspires and empowers lifelong learning, development and community-building through the sport of cross country skiing.
NENSA MISSION: Share the joy of gliding on snow through educational, recreational, introductory and competitive programs to nurture and sustain an active cross country ski community for all ages and levels throughout New England.
NENSA traveled to the Boston area over the final weekend in September to facilitate two events. The first was an open US Ski & Snowboard L100 clinic with participants from the EMXC, Harvard Nordic Ski Team, and the Ethan Allen Biathlon Club. Some folks were in attendance to complete requirements towards their L100 certification while others participated for continuing education in the sport of skiing. It was an inspiring afternoon of learning with an inquisitive and thoughtful group of skiers. A big thank you to the head coach of EMXC, Cate Brams, for being a coach developer at this clinic!
The second event was a Learn-to-Rollerski clinic at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation’s Tenean Beach run in collaboration with EMXC and the Youth Enrichment Services of Boston (YES). The goal of this clinic was to introduce YES program participants to rollerskiing, generate excitement for the upcoming winter season, and strengthen the continuing relationship between EMXC and YES by connecting new folks in both programs. About half the participants had ski experience from previous YES Ski Program participation while the other half were brand new to the sport. Everyone challenged themselves and made incredible improvement in a short time period all. EMXC and YES will continue skiing together this winter at the Weston Ski Track. We are very grateful to the YES youth, teens, volunteers, and staff (especially Youth Outdoor Recreation Coordinator & Equipment Specialist, Elliot Simmons-Uvin); the EMXC juniors and coaches; the MA Department of Conservation & Recreation; the Weston Ski Track; and our NENSA sponsors for supporting and being part of this event. We hope to all gather again next year! Check out a vide recap HERE!
So many smiles at the top of Whiteface this morning! Seventy-seven rollerskiers raced though the mist to Climb to the Castle. This long-standing event was a collaborative effort between New York Ski Education Foundation, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, Whiteface Mountain, High Peaks Cyclery, and NENSA. Thanks to our NENSA associate sponsors for their ongoing generous support. Top three results highlighted below and full results HERE.
1. Lilli Thomas, SLU
2. Virginia Cobb, MSN
3. Sophia Kelting, NYSEF
1. Caitlin Patterson, CGRP
2. Margie Freed, CGRP
3. Tara Geraghty-Moats, CGRP
1. Molly Peters, SMC
2. Rosemary Shea-Cobb, MNC
3. Gabriella Frittelli, Saratoga Biathlon
1. Tabor Greenberg, GMVS
2. Elvis McIntosh, GMVS
3. Lucas Palcsik, GMVA
1. Jake Brown, CGRP
2. Akeo Maifeld-Carucci, CGRP
3. Aidan Ripp, Paul Smiths
1. Adam Terko, MNC
2. Dan Schwenk, Knewhcs
3. Christopher Rose, NYSEF
(The following is an article by Rachel Perkins appeared in FasterSkier Set.30,2021)
As summer turned to fall, skiers from the Stratton Mountain School T2 team (SMS T2), the Sun Valley Gold Team (SVSEF), and the Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team (BSF) met in Lake Placid, NY for a collaborative training camp, capped off with two stages of rollerski racing. The weekend featured a freestyle sprint event — The Keys to the Castle — on the rollerski track at Mt Van Hoevenberg, followed by a distance stage dubbed the Free Fall Rollerski Race in Jericho, VT. These events are perhaps the climax of NENSA’s summer rollerski series, which has helped feed the energy and momentum of the cross country ski community throughout the Northeast.
“Lake Placid and Jericho were fantastic events and the beginning of the vision becoming a reality,” NENSA competitive programs director Justin Beckwith shared in an email. “They also highlight the amazing partnerships we have with clubs, venues and sponsors. We have four more roller races this fall including Climb to the Castle this weekend, which is paired with our Eastern Coaches Symposium — back in the Empire State. The really exciting part is we hope to carry the enthusiasm from rollerski into our Popular Race calendar, which will be released in the coming month.”
The man behind the wheels: NENSA competitive programs director Justin Beckwith. (Photo: Reese Brown / RDB Marketing)
After a year with minimal opportunity for cross-club collaboration, the events provided not only a solid training stimulus, but also invigorated the teams as they prepare for the upcoming season. It left U.S. Ski Team head coach Matt Whitcomb scheming about the opportunity to grow the events in the years to come.
“Pulling off a stage-style roller ski race weekend, with over 100 competitors on two different roller-ski tracks, reminds me of summer racing in Norway and Sweden,” wrote Whitcomb in an email. “NENSA has upped its game. Think of the potential, too; we could do four stages, using four different tracks, and all within 1-2 hrs in VT and NY. Start in Craftsbury, move on to Jericho, and then to each of Lake Placid’s tracks. Everyone camps together at each location, and it’s just a giant summer ski party.”
The facilities at Mt Van Hoevenberg, home to the 1980 Olympics and an Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, have been undergoing extensive renovations and improvements, including the building of the new four-kilometer rollerski track which was finished this past August. (You can take a tour of the track via YouTube courtesy of Paul Schommer/Biathlon Uncharted.)
“If I win the lottery, I’m putting in more roller-ski tracks in the U.S.,” said Whitcomb. “It’s a game-changer to not have to worry about cars. Also, the best way to replicate the demands of a ski course is to ski on a ski course.”
Bill Harmeyer (SMS T2) makes his way through the heats during the Keys to the Castle rollerski sprint. Harmeyer finished 4th overall on the day. (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
Mt Van Hoevenberg has also improved their snow making operations, allowing for 5k of groomed skiing with 3-4 days of blowing snow in cold weather. Whitcomb explained the value this provides to American cross country skiing.
“This was our second time utilizing New York’s investment in its facilities at Mount Van Hoevenberg. I’d be surprised if we’re not racing World Cups here in the future. A lot of work by ORDA has resulted in a world class roller-ski track and new race trails. What excites me is the chance for easterners to have early November skiing in years when the weather cooperates. Their snow-making capacity is impressive.”
With the added twist of a rolling ramp at the start, racers skied their way through the qualifier and rounds. In the women’s field, Jessie Diggins (SMS T2/USST) won the qualifier, cruising onward to snag the top spot on the podium, followed by teammates Julia Kern (SMS T2/USST) in second and Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS T2) in third.
Jessie Diggins (SMS T2/USST) over the climb during the final round of the Keys to the Castle sprint. (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
“This is the time of year where the intensity in training starts to ramp up and it’s always awesome to have the chance to test out your race day preparation,” wrote Diggins after the race. “Things like the timing of pre-race meals to warmups and what you do in between sprint heats to stay activated but not get tired — this was a perfect chance to tune in to those little details at the race in Lake Placid!”
Diggins only competed in the sprint stage of the weekend, bowing out before the teams headed to Vermont.
“I’m super grateful to the organizers and hosts as it was an amazing new roller ski track and venue, and it was very cool to have so many teams and athletes there, from junior skiers to professional teams. The track was challenging and honestly just like a world cup sprint course, in terms of length, challenge and technical aspects. It was fun to fire up the engines and see what I still need to be working on in our final prep phase before the season begins!”
Jessie Diggins stomps the qualifier, continuing through the rounds to win the overall at the Keys to the Castle. (Photo: Reese Brown / RDB Marketing)
On the men’s side, Ben Ogden (SMS T2) also doubled up on the qualifier-final victories. He was followed by Peter Holmes (SVSEF) in second, and Logan Diekmann (BSF) in third.
“This weekend’s rollerski race was like a breath of fresh air for me and I think most of the competitors,” wrote Ogden in an email. “As fun as constant training, time trials and quarantining was, ski racing is all about racing. Getting together with such a talented group and pushing each other on such a beautiful New England weekend seemed almost too good to be true. Having the BSF Pro Team, Sun Valley gold team, and SMS T2 team, all on sight made it a crazy stacked fall time trial, which was such a treat after a year of so many small group time trials.
“This weekend was especially cool for me because It bridged the gap between all the ski worlds, something that has certainly not happened in a long time. Many of the college skiers were there, the SMS t2 team (who I ski with in the summers) was there, even a few fellow US ski team athletes and coaches were there. It’s rare that all these groups get together so that was a lot of fun.”
Putting on a clinic, Ben Ogden powers through the Keys to the Castle, winning both the qualifier and the overall. (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
While racing in Vermont was not possible for much of the ‘20/21 season, Ogden, now 21-years-old, had a solid first run of international World Cup racing. On form when the stakes were highest, he qualified in 11th in the classic sprint at the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany and finished 17th. He was also the third fastest qualifier in the same event at U23 World Championships in Voukatti, Finland, where he finished 11th overall.
Ogden provided insight into his current status with training, and how the races provided him with insight into how his body is responding.
“I had a big period of training ending in these races and in true fall rollerski race style I didn’t change up much of my training for the races. I just thought of them as hard workouts with a bunch of friends who I don’t ski with all too often. I was really pleased to find some good speed through the entire skate sprint day. The course was really fast and tons of fun on rollerskis, so it was awesome to ski all three heats on Saturday…
“I’m really excited to get this winter underway. Feeling good about summer training in Stratton and the beginning of fall training at Groovy. (‘Groovy UV’ = University of Vermont, where Ogden is beginning his third year.) Lots of work to be done!! I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
The men’s podium of the Keys to the Castle rollerski sprint in Lake Placid. Ben Ogden (SMS T2) was the top qualifier and overall winner ahead of Peter Holmes (SVSEF) and Logan Diekmann (BSF Pro). (Photo: Reese Brown/RDB Marketing)
Heading east to the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, men and women in the open division raced a 15k skate while juniors completed 5k.
For the men, Johnny Hagenbuch (SVSEF) stopped the clock at 32:00.9 with the fastest time of the day. He was pursued by Ben Ogen in second (+1:07.3), with Ian Torchia (SMS T2) on his tails in third (+1:07.6) with a tight finish.
“It was an awesome way to cap off a productive training camp!” wrote Hagenbuch after his race. “Being from altitude in Sun Valley, the main goal for the camp was to capitalize on some great venues for intensity training in and around Lake Placid. We had a bunch of really good sessions on rollerskis and foot, and it was awesome to collaborate with Andy Newell’s BSF Pro Team crew on a number of those quality workouts.”
20-year-old Hagenbuch was born and raised in Ketchum, ID. After taking a gap year following high school graduation, Hagenbuch will be attending Dartmouth College in the fall. He explained that his time spent in the east surrounding these events left him eager for what is to come in the years ahead.
“The new venues in Lake Placid at the Mount Van Hoevenberg were incredibly well-designed, and I really look forward to checking out the ski trails in the winter as opposed to bounding. The rollerski track is a really great resource, and NENSA did a fantastic job of hosting that event. There was a surprisingly robust field for a rollerski race in Upstate NY, and it was cool to see how much energy there is for skiing and rollerskiing in the East. I actually had never previously spent any substantive period of time in New England – winter or summer, so it was great to experience orientation at Dartmouth the week before the camp as well. My perception of the East has completely changed; it’s very different from the West, but I love it!”
Johnny Hagenbuch powers through his qualifying round during the Keys to the Castle rollerski sprint in Lake Placid, NY. (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
Breaking down the combined stages that led Hagenbuch to a third place finish in the overall standings, he explained his approach to the weekend including how it fits within his overall summer training plan.
“The sprint went pretty well for me, especially considering that I historically and currently have not self-identified as the most talented sprinter. At this point in the season, it was a fun, low-stakes way to throw down with a great group of guys. Ben Ogden is fun to watch. The distance day in Jericho was much more my wheelhouse, as distance skate races are typically my best format. The 5km rollerski track on the National Guard base in Jericho was a treat to experience. I haven’t skied on Craftsbury’s rollerski track, but the Jericho rollerski track could easily be the best in the nation. Given that I’m still training at a relatively large volume, I wasn’t really expecting to feel particularly good or race anywhere near to my best form, but it was still a pretty good effort.
“One of my goals for the past couple of seasons has been to get stronger and ski more powerfully, and it was cool to see some of that effort pay off in Jericho. I felt that I was skiing much more powerfully in general, and I don’t think I lost much on the uphills – despite having gained 25 pounds in the last year. It was an encouraging result in the end, and I’m excited for the next couple of months of training before the season kicks off in earnest in West Yellowstone. I’ll be pretty consistently alternating between being at home for two weeks and away training or racing for two weeks until January, which’ll be a nice way to break it up (and will make time fly)!”
The women’s podium of the Free Fall distance race in Jericho, VT. Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS T2) took the win ahead of teammate Lina Sutro, with Mariah Bredal (BSF Pro) in third.(Photo: Matt Whitcomb)
On the women’s side, Alayna Sonnesyn took the win on the second day in a time of 37:55.3, sealing the overall victory for the combined events. Her SMS T2 teammate Lina Sutro rolled through in second (+49.3) with BSF Pro Team member Mariah Bredal in third (+2:33.6).
“In Lake Placid, it was really cool to ski on the new roller ski track,” wrote Sonnesyn in an email after the events. “I had heard stories about a pretty twisty and technical track but to finally have the opportunity to ski on a course similar to a World Cup level race was pretty sweet. Not to mention the new facilities at Mt. Van Hoevenberg are unbelievable! It was really fun to get into a sprint simulation with all of the other elite ski teams that were there and it felt almost like a SuperTour. That being said, it’s still September so although I brought a competitive spirit to the races, I still approached them as a workout. It was great to practice going super hard in the qualifier and then play around with tactics in the heats, but it was all in good fun too. With a pretty sketchy corner coming out of the last downhill, the women agreed this race wasn’t worth losing skin over. All in all, a great day!”
Alayna Sonnesyn leads her heat during the Keys to the Castle rollerski sprint in Lake Placid, NY. (Photo: Reese Brown / RDB Marketing)
“The following day in Jericho I was definitely feeling a little tired from the sprints the day before, but that was great practice for wintertime when we frequently race back to back,” Sonnesyn continued. “Also, during my time at UVM we skied at Jericho almost every week so it felt good to be back on a track that I knew so well and felt like home. Adding to that, it was great to see the UVM ski team and other junior/college racers attending this event. It had been a while since I had been at an event with so many New England skiers and I felt like everyone was just really happy to be there. Again, I was finding the balance in this race to approach it as a workout while still taking advantage of the opportunity to practice race warm ups, tactics, fueling, pacing, etc.”
Sonnesyn also concluded with insight into her overall feelings at this point in the season.
“I’m feeling really good and lucky to have these races to test things out. I gained a lot of takeaways on little things I can work on in the next few months, but also built some confidence behind what we have already been doing all summer. I’m excited to potentially compete in a few more NENSA races this fall and get ready for snow to fall!”
The women’s final of the Keys to the Castle rollerski sprint in Lake Placid, NY. From left to right, Lauren Jortberg (BSF Pro), Julia Kern (SMS T2/USST), Jessie Diggins (SMS T2/USST), Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS T2). (Photo: Reese Brown RDB Marketing)
Overall Standings for the Combined Events:
Saturday, October 23, 2021 | Gould AcademyREGISTER
All clinic participants will use NENSA’s brand new Swenor Rollerskis, but remember to bring your own boots, poles, and helmet!! We can accommodate SNS and Prolink/NNN bindings. A boxed lunch included for the first 50 registrants.
8:45am: Gather and hand out equipment
9:00am-11:00am: Youth/BKL Rollerski Clinic * and High School Clinic **
* Youth Rollerski Clinic
This two hour learn-to-rollerski clinic is open to skiers 6-13 years of age and their parents/caretakers/coaches. We will go over some basic skills in both classic and skate technique before focusing on agility, including the ramp bumps, and games.
** High School Clinic
This two hour learn-to-rollerski clinic is open to skiers 14-19 years of age. Previous rollerski experience not required. We will review some basic technique before focusing on agility, including the ramp bumps.
Please direct any questions to [email protected].
(The following is an article by Rachel Perkins appeared in FasterSkier Set.16,2021)
Jessie Diggins takes a first crack at NENSA’s rollerski ramps, which will be featured in the sprint qualifier and rounds in Lake Placid this weekend.
On the heels of our coverage of the Martin Fourcade Nordic Festival and the Alliansloppet Action Week, we turn our attention to the Northeast where the burgeoning New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) rollerski race series is well underway. The next round of racing will take place this upcoming weekend, starting with a freestyle sprint event dubbed “The Keys to the Castle” on September 18th at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, NY, followed by a freestyle distance race the on the rollerski track in Jericho, VT the next day. Men and women will each race 15-kilometers in the open division, while juniors will have the option to race 5k.
For those interested in seeing the show, in-person spectating is encouraged at the Lake Placid stage, however, as the ski track in Jericho is at a Vermont National Guard base, names must be submitted for entry prior to the event. Events will also be live-streamed on the NENSA Facebook Page, and live timing will be available through Bullitt Timing. Updated COVID considerations for participants and community members can be found here.
Building from past years, the series features nine events beginning with the Lost Nation Roll in Craftsbury, VT in July and ending in mid-November with the NENSA Invitational in Stowe. Captaining the ship and still rocking the mullet-mustache combo is competitive programs director Justin Beckwith, with whom FasterSkier connected in mid-August to learn more about this year’s widened scope of event offerings, supporting a thriving culture of skiing in the region, and whether the dream of a New York City rollerski event is still alive.
Beckwith explained in the call that one of NENSA’s objectives as the rollerski series evolves is to reach more athletes and to make opportunities for rollerski racing more accessible. Given the high density of cross country skiers and high level clubs in Vermont, the well-attended and highly competitive App Gap Challenge, and the designated rollerski tracks in Craftsbury and Jericho, past events have primarily taken place in that state. However, these venues can be quite a drive for skiers living in Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Maine.
NENSA Competitive Programs Director and rollerski race series organizer Justin Beckwith with his son, Red, at an event in Craftsbury.
One of the first steps to expanding opportunity in the region? Outreach. Rather than bringing more people to Vermont, bringing the races to the people.
“One of the primary goals was to try and bring our programming across the entire Eastern region,” Beckwith said. “So we’ve done a race in Southern Maine, which Clare Egan so eloquently said at awards that she doesn’t think anyone’s had a rollerski race in Southern Maine before. And just this weekend, we’re going over to New Hampshire. It will be the first event we’ve done in New Hampshire on rollerskis. So that’s really cool.”
The first event he mentioned — the Good Times Roll in Cumberland, ME in collaboration with NonStop Nordic — featured a 4.3k freestyle race for Middle School and beginners, and a 7.5k open race on a closed roadway. The start and an agility course took place inside the Cumberland Fairgrounds. The second stage, The Rollins Roll in Warren, NH, led classic skiers up the Mt Kearsarge auto road, which was closed during the event. Bringing together the community, both events saw participants from the junior level through the 50+ age bracket.
In the Lost Nation Roll, which was co-hosted with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, youth skiers had the opportunity to race the same course as elite athletes from the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (GRP) whom they admire. Likewise, the GRP athletes had the opportunity to ski their home track with outside stimulation. This event was followed by a learn-to-rollerski clinic and a free biathlon clinic to bring in additional members of the community who were not up for racing or wanted to learn more about shooting.
Now, midway through the series, the events are catered more toward the top juniors and seniors in the region, though some are still open to all levels. Beckwith explained that NENSA was “lucky” to have such a high density of top skiers in the area, including regional high-performance junior clubs, elite teams like SMS T2 and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, and EISA collegiate teams including Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont.
“We’ve had pretty good success incorporating at least the college programs that are within striking distance — driving time — and who can participate in the races that sort of start in September, October and then in the November.”
From left to right, Greg Burt, Raleigh Goessling, and Luke Brown go head-to-head during the 2021 Lost Nation Roll in Craftsbury, VT.
In addition to new venues, the series is also incorporating a more diverse array of events, including sprint stages. Beckwith explained that the first round of sprint rollerski racing took place at the Eastern REG camp in early July in Lake Placid.
“At Mt Van Hoevenberg — that was really our first sprint course. It was actually our first sprint event that we’ve done in total since Junior Nationals 2020. But it was also the first heat format we’ve ever done in rollerskiing. And it’s an excellent venue for it. I think you can’t make a track wide enough [for rollerski sprints], so we actually pared down [the heats]. And I think the event we’ll do on September 18th… we’ll probably be running heats of four again in that. So it’s a little different than a winter format just because of the track width. But yeah, it’s exciting.” (Beckwith added that long-term, a wider track is something NENSA hopes to develop.)
More specifically, the events will still feature the typical structure of qualification followed by three progressive rounds, only modified to four skiers per section. Lucky losers will be incorporated based on time, as Bullitt Timing is providing a FIS level timing system. Juniors will compete in a mixed gender “Kings Court”-style sprint in order to ski more rounds, gaining more tactical experience.
The events this weekend will include athletes from the Sun Valley Gold Team, the Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team, and SMST2. (The Craftsbury squad is currently in Germany training in the ski tunnel in Oberhof.) Because the number of athletes on course is limited, these events will have a bit more “vetting of the competition” — i.e., being current U.S. Ski & Snowboard members and holding a current FIS license. However, recreational skiers still have the opportunity to test their mettle at Climb to the Castle in Lake Placid on October 3rd or the Mount Greylock Rollerski Race on November 7th in Adams, MA. Both are uphill classic challenges.
“We created a permitted opportunity to ski up a closed State Park Road. So why not? Even if you’re not racing, go try it out, right?”
NENSA athlete Evelyn Walton on course in Lake Placid during the Eastern REG camp.
Before the pandemic, the series averaged roughly 100 participants in each stage across all ability levels. While numbers have been lower in 2021 thus far, a summer series still remains a valuable touch point to keep the ski community engaged until the snow flies.
“A lot of these races this year, the focus is kind of building — not just out of COVID and building back into events, but into thinking about how we can better support the community and create opportunities. That’s our mission statement: to support a vibrant ski culture.”
To bring in people from all aspects of the community, NENSA is partnering with ORDA — Olympic Regional Development Authority — to organize an Eastern Coaches Symposium and a TD training opportunity in concert with the Climb to the Castle on October 3rd. Climb to the Castle is co-hosted with NYSEF, the New York Ski Education Foundation.
While this race up the Whiteface Toll Road in Lake Placid has plenty of history, it is also quite a grueling and climbing 2,300 feet in five miles is not universally accessible. Beckwith explained that they’ve considered a shorter distance where beginner or youth skiers could start further up the road to make it more manageable, or perhaps supporting a fleet of fast or “juiced” wheels to reduce the load.
Speaking to the concept of growing and sustaining the nordic community across all ages through the rollerski series, Beckwith recalled a conversation with longtime Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation coach Rick Kapala, who had contacted Beckwith to learn more about putting on the series in hopes of putting on similar events out West.
“The idea I think Rick hit on the head is just that you’re creating excitement, to keep the kids engaged, right? And adults — all of it keeps skiers engaged throughout the year, and I think that’s really the goal. There’s no qualification [to enter]. In the past, we’ve built prize money in and I think we’re gonna be building prize money into a few of those bigger events I was telling you about in the coming days, but that’s just fun to roll that out as it comes… So really the most enjoyable piece of it and the broader scope is that we’re bringing together people from different communities, regions, abilities, all of that.”
A host of rollerskiers get together after a NENSA event.
He explained that NENSA’s team will similarly highlight regional popular racing opportunities during the winter.
“We’re really gonna highlight those races, popular racing opportunities, and also let people know that we feel like those are great developmental opportunities. Versus, we’ve been maybe a little Eastern Cup and Junior National qualifying centric in the past. So we’re really trying to support those, you know, it’s inclusive, but more so than that, creating festive opportunities that are available regionally. And the level of competition will be at those events regardless, because there’s really good skiers throughout the region, and they’re already utilizing those events.
“We know people will go to sanctioned events in winter and summer, try to qualify for JN’s, but how can we create opportunities beyond that? If we can bring it to people’s backyard communities, so to speak, or within that sweet spot of an hour or two from their doorstep, then hopefully, we just get more people involved and excited throughout the year.”
Green Racing Project members Susan Dunklee (left) and Caitlin Patterson (right) take on NENSA’s rollerski ramps at the opening event in Craftsbury, VT.
FasterSkier spoke with Beckwith about the nascent series in 2019 shortly after the App Gap Challenge, a skate-to-classic skiathlon that led skiers up a mountain pass on a closed State Highway near Fayson, VT. (The App Gap took a hiatus in 2021 due to construction on the road.) When considering what it took to pull off an event of that magnitude, Beckwith said: “The beauty of a rollerski series is that nobody has any expectations or guideline of how we do this.”
He also said that he envisioned an event closer to the scale of the many summer rollerski festivals in Europe, perhaps in New York City or Boston. While this may seem like a pipe dream, with Beckwith behind the wheel, the idea came closer to fruition than one might have thought.
“Let’s say we were seriously exploring a race in Central Park this fall as part of the series early on. And I think it’s very possible for 2022 — it takes time to do that. But we’re close, we’ve got our foot in the door. People know who we are. And we have developed some key contacts that came up down there, which is exciting.”
NENSA also grew its staff this year to make organizing larger events more sustainable, adding an Event Support position filled by Fred Bailey.
“It definitely takes a team to pull this off,” Beckwith stated.
NENSA will be offering a youth clinic in Boston in collaboration with two other organizations whose goals also include getting kids outside on skis and supporting equity and inclusion in the cross country ski community. Like other clinics NENSA has run this summer, this clinic will introduce current ski program participants and potential future participants to rollerskiing for the first time with a focus on having fun, broadening exposure to different aspects of the sport, and encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle. Beckwith identifies that added exposure in populated areas may also help NENSA create larger highlighted events in the future.
“But there’s twofold to that. Because if we’re getting into urban areas, metro areas, whatever, then the visibility grows.”
With better understanding of the concept, urban venues might be more open to hosting. Beckwith explained that NYC stands at the top in terms of ideal venues. As so many events from 2020 were postponed into 2021 due to the pandemic, permitting became very challenging, which impeded the feasibility of running an event there in 2021.
NENSA athletes Jack Young and Jack Lange compete in the sprint event during the Eastern REG camp in Lake Placid.
“One other issue beside the permit was just that it’s an Olympic year, and the availability and openness of National Team athletes [may be less than non-Championship years]. If we pull off a race in New York City, we’re talking about a budget at a minimum of 10 to 30 grand, so if we’re going to do that we want to have [high caliber athletes racing to] capitalize on it.”
While it may be nearly 300 miles north of Central Park, Jessie Diggins is confirmed to be competing this weekend in Lake Placid. Given the caliber of the elite training groups participating, it’s clear that the level of competition is high and the racing will be spicy.To add to the excitement, qualifier and rounds will feature a 24 foot bicycle ramp directly out of the start.
The NENSA rollerski series is now in its fourth year. If it wasn’t already abundantly clear how dedicated Beckwith is, he became emotional when reflecting on what he is proud of.
“Oh, geez, what am I proud of. We lost, you know, a year of in-person rollerski races with COVID. So that was a real doozy because we had Craftsbury coming online with a roller ski track, we had Van Hoevenberg coming online with a roller ski track, we were really excited to build into that. And then you know, the wheels fell off the bus from the outside — that wasn’t anything that we did. We created some really great regional events, as much as you can in a safe manner. But they were quite engaging challenges, and we saw literally worldwide participation in virtual events.”
Adapting to the times, Beckwith also pulled off running the 2020 App Gap challenge over the course of a week where athletes from the same club could race on matched skis in a designated window. Breaking these groups down further into waves of 15 made it such that there were never more than 30 people in the area at a time.
“So that kept us together a little bit… This year, it’s definitely a big step to re-engage after having a year where you didn’t. If you host an event, at the end of the day, you’re talking about what you’re going to do better the next year to build on it, and that’s just tricky with everything that we had coming down the pike. So I’m just really excited about where we are right now. We’re gonna have more rollerski races than we’ve ever had. I think that we’re gonna have the most competitive races we’ve ever had. It was pretty hard to top the women’s field in that Lost Nation Roll last year. I think it was about a 33 FIS point race or something like that — in no small part because Jesse [Diggins] was there.”
He acknowledged that there were plenty of other strong athletes there also — women and men — but that this weekend’s races will be a step higher.
“I think the big success of this year is going to be just that we’ll have more participation overall. Partly because we have more events — well attended events — but that we’re reaching many more skiers by taking the show to them basically. That’s probably going to be the biggest takeaway win for this year.”
Beckwith also thanked the associate sponsors of the series: Swix, L.L. Bean, and Salomon. Apart from direct funding, he noted that Salomon sharing a video clip of one of Beckwith’s signature agility courses helped it see over 80,000 views internationally.
“We also have a really amazing partnership with Enjoy Winter, and Swenor rollerskis, which has really been a part of the series from the beginning and what makes it work for us. So that’s a really important piece to a partnership. Worthy of mentioning are the great people like, I’m teared up now, but Marty Hall, Joe Lamb. They’re just really supportive. So that’s incredible.”
Hattie Barker attacks a climb with Mansfield Nordic coach Adam Terko collecting video.
Special thanks to FasterSkier for the support:
Olympic Gold Medalist Kikkan Randal to present the grant at The Club at Riverside Golf Course on Thursday, October 14.
Portland, Maine (September 22, 2021) – Fischer Skis has selected Portland Nordic as a recipient of its annual Fischer Grant program. The $2,500 grant, along with an additional $2,500 matching challenge grant, will go towards Portland Nordic’s plan to light a 2km loop at Riverside Golf Course. To celebrate the grant award, Fischer athlete and Olympic Gold Medalist Kikkan Randall will attend a celebration ceremony on the deck at The Club at Riverside Golf Course (1158 Riverside St, Portland, ME 04103) on Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 5-7pm.
“Portland Nordic is doing awesome work and we’re thrilled to be able to help them with this lighting project,” says Fischer Skis Marketing Director, Brian Landrigan. “They’ve cultivated a really strong community there in Maine, and we can’t wait to see how they turn out for this event.”
Portland Nordic runs the majority of its programming at Riverside Golf Course including the Portland Middle School Nordic and Bill Koch Youth Ski programs. The planned lighting system will be installed over a about 2km loop on the North Course including the main “stadium” area on the 18th fairway. The lighting system will be designed not to interfere with summer use of the golf course and to minimize impact on wildlife.
“Winter days are short and this grant from Fischer will help us to lengthen the ski day at Riverside while providing a safer experience for skiers of all levels who enjoy it after the sun goes down,” said Steve Niles, president of Portland Nordic. “Evenings are often when conditions are best and we hope that with a lit section at Riverside more skiers, new and experienced, will use this great skiing resource we have in our community.”
On Thursday, October 14, Portland Nordic and Fischer will host a celebration of the grant on the deck outside at The Club at Riverside Golf Course from 5-7pm. Along with Kikkan Randall in attendance to sign autographs and pose for photos, Portland Nordic and Fischer will be offering some silent auction items and raffle prizes.
“I’m excited to be a part of awarding this Fischer Grant to Portland Nordic,” says Randall. “Building a strong community around skiing is such a great way to make the sport accessible to all. It’s really inspiring to see Portland Nordic sharing their enthusiasm with the greater community. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and getting the stoke going for the upcoming winter!”
Kikkan Randall is a five-time Olympian with 17 U.S. National titles and 29 World Cup podiums. She made US Olympic history at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics when she and her teammate Jessie Diggins won the women’s team sprint freestyle race, becoming the first Americans to ever win Olympic gold in cross-country skiing. Since retiring from the U.S. Ski Team, Randall and her family have moved back to Alaska where she was recently hired as the Executive Director of the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, the club with which she started her skiing career.
The Fischer Grants program, an ongoing outreach program aimed at promoting access and engagement to skiing in the United States, focuses on youth and underserved ski populations, snowmaking efforts, education and outreach. Since its first donation in 2017, Fischer has awarded over 15 grants, both in product and financial support, to ski programs around the country.To donate in support of Portland Nordic’s lighting program and Fischer’s match challenge visit https://www.
ABOUT FISCHER SKIS
Fischer’s vision is to be the winter athlete’s brand of choice through outstanding products, created for everlasting moments and new levels of individual performance. The privately held company employs nearly 2000 individuals who all share a passion for and dedication to winter sports. Fischer Sports GmbH was founded in 1924 in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, where the global headquarters is still located. Manufacturing takes place there and in Ukraine. For more information, visit www.fischersports.com
ABOUT PORTLAND NORDIC
Portland Nordic is a nonprofit 501c3 that promotes healthy and active lifestyles in greater Portland, ME, through the sport of Nordic Skiing. The volunteer-run organization provides ski instruction and supports Nordic trail maintenance and development throughout the city. The organization runs the majority of its programming, including Bill Koch League and a Middle School Program, at the Riverside Golf Course where it assists the City of Portland with grooming and trail maintenance. Learn more, become a Friend of Portland Nordic, and get involved at www.portlandnordic.org.
This one-day clinic is open to anyone looking to improve their ski technique, and learn ways to teach others effectively. We will cover both classic and skate techniques. This clinic is part of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard (USSS) L100 certification process but you do not have to seek certification to participate. Read more about the USSS L100 certification here.
The clinic is being co-led by U.S. Ski & Snowboard Coach Developers, Cate Brams and Kait Miller.
After the 3 hour technique clinic, coaches on the L100 track will take a short break and then dive into an hour of coaching demonstrations in small groups while the non certification-seeking participants will have the opportunity to learn about the rollerski ramps and get some fun instruction from Justin Beckwith.
NENSA membership information, including details about the free “Get Skiing” first time membership, HERE.
Coaches seeking certification should register and take L100 Coach Certification Training on-line, before coming to this weekend. This group will also participate virtually in portfolio discussion the week before the clinic–see Doodle Poll in registration questions to enter your preferred time. U.S. Ski & Snowboard and NENSA Coach Membership are required for certification, although all are welcome to participate.
Participants are encouraged to rollerski during the technique portion of the clinic. However, rollerskiing is NOT required. We will be staying in the parking lot of the high school so you can easily stay with the group on foot and learn about how to coach ski technique. Parking lot is covered with large solar panels so we will ski even if it rains.
Participants who complete the entire clinic will receive NENSA and U.S. Ski & Snowboard continuing education credit.
All clinic participants will have access to our fleet of Swenor skis and we will also have Swix poles to demo.
12:45 p.m. arrive, get equipment, get ready
1:00 p.m. Classic Technique work – starting on foot and moving to rollerskis
2:30 p.m. Freestyle Technique work – mostly on rollerskis
4:00 p.m. break
A) L100 certification folks break into smaller groups for coaching demonstrations
B) Join Justin Beckwith for a ramp progression, thoughts on agility, and “pressuring the ski”
5:15 p.m. Approx. finish
What to bring:
- running shoes
- poles (skate and classic)
- roller skis (skate and classic)
- helmet (mandatory for rollerskiing!)
- water, and snacks
- high visibility vest, shirt, or jacket
- a penchant for having fun!
There is a lot of information to cover so please arrive early and be ready to start the clinic at 1:00pm!
For clinic specific questions, contact [email protected].