Recent thaws and frozen nights in the Northeast created icy fast conditions for the final weekend of Eastern Cup racing. The Eastern Cup racing series is the highest level of competition hosted by New England Nordic Skiing Association (NENSA) that allows serious racers and citizens to race against each other in first class settings. The series is used as the seeding basis for the naming of the New England Junior Olympic team that will fly out to compete against other regional team in Minneapolis, MN, in March later this season for the 2011 Junior Olympics.
Day 1: 10 k freestyle
Saturday’s race was held on Dartmouth College’s own course on Oak Hill. Fast speeds required careful thinking to safely navigate the course as fast as possible. The final results had some packs of ten to twenty skiers within a one minute time spread.
Hannah Dressigacker of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) was the first across the line in a time of 27:47.2, ahead by a significant seventy-five seconds in an otherwise tightly packed women’s field. Next across was NCAA winner Alison Crocker, former Dartmouth skier and a Rhodes Scholar currently conducting post-doctoral work in astrophysics. Snagging the final spot on the podium and leading the rest of the tightly packed women’s field was Saratoga biathlete Carly Wynn.
Patrick O’Brien (CGRP) showed the top form that has earned him the season points leader’s bib and won the men’s race in a time of 24:33.3. Bret Bedard of Berkshire Trails was next, only six seconds back from O’Brien. Rounding out the top three was Michael Lessard, racing his first post-collegiate year with Maine Winter Sports Club (MWSC).
Day 2: 5/ 10 k classic
The final day of Eastern Cup action took place at Holderness School on the Cheri Walsh course. Snow conditions were similar to yesterday’s race, icy tracks and little extra snow that made for some klister waxing and fast skiing.
Dressigacker (CGRP), starting fifteen seconds back from season points leader Corey Stock of Cambridge Sports Union (CSU), hung on tight and managed to cross the finish line only five seconds after Stock for a ten-second win in a time of 15:07.2. Stock’s performance was nothing short of impressive, finishing the series with two first place and two second place finishes after starting the season late to allow more recovery time from summer surgery. Fresh from racing in Europe and coming in for the last podium spot was Heather Mooney of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS).
In the men’s race, the top two spots were taken by Justin Freeman of Holderness School and Patrick O’Brien (CGRP) respectively, both who have been trading blows back and forth in several high-level classic races this season. Freeman, former US Olympic skier, finished with a blazing fast time of 25:57.6. O’Brien was ten seconds back from Freeman and earned more points to add to an already impressive lead in the points series for the Easter Cup. O’Brien’s teammate Tim Reynolds (CGRP) was third for the day, coming in behind by thirteen seconds.
After racing, skiers congregated inside to award prizes for the day’s finishers, recognize the season’s leaders in points and the naming of the New England Junior Olympic Team. O’Brien and Stock won for the overall men and women’s category, while skiers Tyler Foulkes (SMS) and Cate Brams (CSU) were the points winners of the J2 category.
The Eastern Cup ended with NENSA Competitive Programs Director Janice Sibilia and Head Coach of the New England Junior Olympic team Matt Boobar congratulated racers for an excellent season, particularly to the skiers named that were competing against high-class athletes trying to earn the points to make the team. Boobar commended the team for their season performance and emphasized that while the depth of the Eastern Cup series makes being named to the team difficult, it creates a high level group that will defend their two-year championship streak.
Results for the full weekend can be found here.
Ben Theyerl was born into a family now three-generations into nordic ski racing in the US. He grew up skiing for Chippewa Valley Nordic in his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before spending four years racing for Colby College in Maine. He currently mixes writing and skiing while based out of Crested Butte, CO, where he coaches the best group of high schoolers one could hope to find.