January 30, 2011- In a pair of firsts, the second weekend of Eastern Cup racing was held at Weston Ski Track. Never before in New England has racing had the high-level series come to Massachusetts nor have two races in one day, yet Weston Ski Track and hosting club Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) did an excellent job in setting the bar. Weston Ski Track- largely situated on a golf course- used its snow-making facilities and this season’s snowfall to create a course with wide trails and several “bumps” made from mounds of manmade snow that required quick transitions to ski as fast as possible.
Racing started off with a morning sprint qualifier-only with 15-second intervals starts. Once the dust settled, it was CSU’s Corey Stock and Stratton Mountain School’s Bridger Tyler that won. Each skier managed to pull off blistering times that put them ahead by the rest of the tightly-packed field by several seconds. J2 victories went to Hamish McEwen of CSU- who also pulled off a similar win margin of several seconds- and Julia Kern from the Eastern Mass BKL program.
For the afternoon races, mass starts are typically messy affairs, but at Weston it was anything but.
“Usually mass starts with this many skiers can result in carnage off the start line but the large start area allowed plenty of time to sort for position before it bottle necked. Many probably came into the race today expecting an easier effort but the winds added a large challenge and the short hills and wide open fields called for proper tactics.” Said Andrew Clemence of the University of New Hampshire ski team (UNH).
The course itself was mostly from the morning sprint, with three 3 k laps instead of one, but with an extended section on a flat open field that the winds made it difficult to ski alone.
On the men’s side, it was David Sinclair from Dartmouth that came first across the line, with his teammate Sam Tarling in second and Clemence in third. The three were part of a larger pack that splintered when Tarling made a move on the last major climb that shattered the main pack and left only the three to ski together. In the end however Sinclair managed to pull ahead for the win.
Stock- coming off a long recovery period from compartment syndrome surgery- continued her dominating performance from the morning and took victory in the mass start, putting some distance between her and the lead pack for a seven second victory. She was followed by Alena Tofte of Harvard Ski Team and Nina Gavyluk, former Russian gold Olympian and Gunstock Nordic Association coach. Gavyluk also tried to break the field on the major climb, but she could not ski alone on the flats.
“The wind,” she said later, “was a very deciding factor.”
Results can be found here. Eastern Cup action continues next weekend at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT, where skiers can compete head-to-head with racers on the Easter Intercollegiate Ski Association, in a double event hosted by the University of Vermont.
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.