Saturday, February 26, 2011: Ripton, VT – Under snow-covered trees amidst skiers, parents, and volunteers of all ages in woodland creature-themed attire, athletes aged 5 to 13 descended upon Rikert Ski Touring Center in Ripton, Vermont today for the annual Bill Koch Cross-Country Ski Festival. The annual event brings youth skiers in New England a weekend of championship races as well as non-competitive open activities for families and festival-goers. With the close of the opening day’s events, 515 registered racers had competed in a mixed-age relay race and an adventurous tour around Rikert’s beautiful trail network, making for the most attended BKYL Festival to date.
The festival is rooted in the philosophy that cross-country ski racing with friends is both competitive and fun, explained Bill Koch, the 1978 Olympic silver medalist from Peru, Vermont-namesake and inspiration for the youth league. “Racing comes and goes, but skiing stays forever.” This year’s BKYL Festival brings a unique theme and the tradition of over 100 volunteers and organizers coming together to encourage courteous competition – faster racers that call “track” are given the right of way – and an event that celebrates the participation of all – from Olympic hopefuls to first-year participants.
To embody this year’s theme, “Skiing by the Woods on a Snowy Day,” racers and festival goers alike will be greeted all weekend with activities ranging from an opening parade (see video:http://gallery.me.com/maxkcobb#100368), to event videos at the local high-school awards banquet, a ski terrain park, a ‘mini-marathon’ by poet Robert Frost’s former summer residence, an animal-costume themed ski loop, and over 30 attending ski clubs from Madawasaka, Maine, to Rochester, New York, to Bedford, Massachusetts. There were the Berkshire Trails ‘Beavers’ from western Massachusetts, a family of skunks, bears, moose, birds, canines and critters of all kinds.
For full results of the day’s races see the NENSA website: http://nensa.net/news/index.php?id=4643
Here are some more pictures of the day: http://quinnpics.smugmug.com/
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.