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/