By Sophie Hodges
We are down to three months away from the next Eastern Cup, NENSA’s signature race series, and it is time to get prepped for all the excitement to come! In case any of you have been keeping up with the Farmer’s Almanac, this year is supposed to be a winter to remember, so lets get excited!
I personally am very excited for this winter, because we have a new venue, Rikert Nordic Center! For those of you who have not skied there before, I can assure you, it is a wonderful place to ski and a beautiful woodland area, perfect for this year’s Eastern Cup Opener. Rikert is equipped with snow-making guns, and will be properly prepared for the races byDecember 20th.
Keith Wilkerson from the Frost Mountain Nordic ski club, co-director of the races with Mike Hussey of Rikert Nordic Center are putting together an exciting weekend of races. Says Keith Wilkerson, ”We’ve partnered with the Better Middlebury Partnership, our local business development group, and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, to engage the larger community in hosting this event. Middlebury Inn has agreed to be our host hotel and we’re fine tuning the details for a special Saturday evening reception for skiers and fans in town. We’re also really excited about having Eastern Cup racing on Rikert’s homologated course. Our goal is to put on a marquee event.” Looking forward to it, Keith!
After Rikert’s event, we have weekend number two, at Black Mountain in Rumford Maine! The first day of this weekend, January 17th, is also the Bates College Carnival which looks to be very promising, and according to Becky Woods, “Bates is thrilled to be hosting at Black Mountain and working with the Chisholm Ski Club. The planning is in full swing – it should be a great event. We are excited to have one race day that is a combined Carnival and Eastern Cup!” Thanks Becky, sounds like it’s going to be a great weekend!
The next in line will be race weekend number three, at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, in Craftsbury Common, Vermont. This is going to be an exciting weekend because on February 6th-8th, Craftsbury is hosting a USSA SuperTour, the Dartmouth Carnival on February 6th and 7th, and the NENSA Eastern Cup on February 7th and 8th.
Everything will be super busy, and my advice to you would be to make sure your skis are labeled! Liz Guiney, from the Craftsbury Green Racing Project says that everyone at Craftsbury is “really excited about this event for a few reasons. The first is that the Outdoor Center will be hosting in our new Activity Center, which is spacious and directly on the nordic trails. The skiers will have plenty of room to change, spread out between races, and get warm next to the fireplace. The other exciting aspect of the race weekend is that it is a combination Eastern Cup, carnival, and a USSA SuperTour. This means that the best college racers, juniors, and professional skiers will all be competing together, which will raise the level for everyone involved. It’s going to be a great event and an awesome time to ski at Craftsbury!” Hope to see you all there!
The final weekend of the Eastern Cup series will be held in both Oak Hill, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Holderness School, in Holderness New Hampshire. Day one, February 14th, will be held by the folks at Oak Hill, who say, “race committees have met several times and energy is running high! The excellent snow ‘in town’ through the latter half of last year’s xc season left all of us energized about getting outside on skis, and the Eastern Cup is a community-building way of celebrating Nordic skiing and racing.” Day two will be put on by the Holderness School, and it is also the Cheri Walsh Memorial Eastern Cup race. From the race organizers at Holderness: “As always, we hope to use the traditional Cheri Walsh course which we believe showcases fun agile classic skiing in it’s purest form. The best part about hosting the race is that it brings the best skiers in the region to our home club, and allows our ski community to come together and experience ski culture at it’s best. We always hope that a young Bill Koch skier will see the best Eastern Cup skiers and say to themselves, ‘I can do that’.”
Eastern Cups are open to skiers from all levels, and even draws some of the nation’s finest talent. Katharine Ogden, one of last year’s Gallagher Cup winners says “I am really excited for this new season of racing and can’t wait to race against a new batch of skiers for my fourth year in the Eastern Cup race circuit!”
Says Patrick O’Brien, also a winner of last year’s Gallagher Cup, “the Eastern Cup circuit is a valuable development tool for skiing in New England because it allows citizen, high school, and senior racers to come together and compete against each other. Skiing is normally a pretty small sport in the US so any time you can get those often separate groups to all compete on the same course you are going to increase participation and make for a higher level competition. A high school freshman can see where they stand agains a World Cup starter or USST member. The Eastern Cup circuit is also critical development path for our junior racers to practice higher level starts before heading to Junior Nationals come March. Having a unified race circuit throughout the winter is one of the reasons New England has historically been one of the strongest regions at Junior Nationals!”
We are excited to see you all out there, ready to race for the first weekend, December 20th and 21st!