Stowe, VT—Trapp Family Lodge plays hosts to this year’s TD Banknorth Eastern Cup opening weekend. The Eastern Cup begins its fourteenth year as NENSA’s signature race series and this weekend will feature several of the nation’s best cross-country skiers. The Trapp Touring Center has been blessed with early season snow and the snow cover has been enhanced with their expansive snowmaking system. Saturday’s one kilometer classic technique sprint race and Sunday’s five and ten kilometer freestyle technique races will utilized the center’s new John Morton designed race courses. The events serve as New England Junior Olympic Team Qualifiers and will be scored to the USSA National Ranking List.
East Montpelier, Vermont’s Liz Stephen is the event’s headliner. A Burke Mountain Academy graduate, Liz is coming off a 3rd place finish at last year’s World U23 Championships. She and her US Ski Team coach Matt Whitcomb will give a one-hour coaches’ clinic at the conclusion of Sunday’s race open to all coaches for no charge. Liz, however, will not be unchallenged; 2008 World Junior Team qualifiers and Dartmouth College skiers Ida Sargent and 2008 Eastern Cup Champion Sophie Caldwell, UVM’s Jennie Bender and a group of quickly rising New England junior and collegiate skiers will be doing their best to chase her down.
On the men’s side, it will be a battle of youth versus experience. Masters skier New Hampton, New Hampshire’s Justin Freeman is a former Olympian and fellow Master David Chamberlain is a 3-time World Championship team member. Eli Enman should also find himself in the chase on both days. UVM’s Juergen Uhl, a 2008 NCAA All-American, should prove tough on the course, and last year’s TD Banknorth Eastern Cup Champion and Colby College skier Matt Briggs should not be counted out. Youngsters Kevin Cutts and UVM’s Alex Howe have proven to be very tough on the sprint course and should be top qualifiers in Saturday’s sprint.
One great feature of the Eastern Cup is that it is not just for the very fastest cross-country ski racers. Athletes of all speeds get to compete side-by-side with some of the nation’s best, there is masters seed group that allows those over thirty to race together, and for the first time in NENSA’s history, Saturday’s sprints will feature the “Cupcake Sprints.” NENSA Youth and Intro Programs Director Abby Weissman has baked cupcakes to be handed out to the winners (and maybe the losers too) of the informal head-to-head races at the conclusion of the official finals. Also new this year, in order to promote a more environmentally-friendly community, NENSA has joined Terracycle’s Wrapper Brigade. In mid-2008, Terracycle launched the Wrapper Brigade, a project that finally puts use to the millions of energy bar wrappers that were formerly discarded. Since its initiation, the program, which is sponsored by Clif Bar, has collected over 300,000 wrappers, which have been turned into products ranging from tote bags to notebook covers. At all of NENSA’s major events this season, bring your empty bar wrappers and look for the recycling boxes under the TD Banknorth tent.
Please note that day of race registration is available for both day’s races.