The Maine Event: Sprint Agility Festival

Skiers from Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Gould Academy and Freeport High School took part in the first known open rollerski cross event this weekend in Maine.  The course was designed to combine components of a technical agility course with a traditional sprint race – with the goal of emulating FIS Cross Country Cross on rollerskis.  This progressive format will again take place on snow at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Laussane, Switzerland.  Three ramp features were utilized to challenge skiers to perform maneuvers traditionally performed on snow.

The event was made possible by the generous support of Kathy and Marty Hall who see this format as a way to further concepts of skill-based or games-based learning and draw attention to cross country skiing.  Indeed there was not only excitement among the competitors as they were introduced to the features – but also for spectators and passers by – who were intrigued as they watched the athleticism of the skiers adeptly navigating through bumps, turns and the sprinting sections of the course.

The competition format included an individual qualification in the morning with athletes being sent every 30 seconds on the course in hopes of making rounds later in the day.  Unfortunately for this test event there was another competition – with the weather – as a Nor’easter was making its way up the coast during the morning.  With temperatures in the low thirties and a mix of snow and rain – health concerns for the athletes and timing challenges prompted an abbreviated afternoon schedule.

Despite the inclement weather the test event was a huge success with over 50 skiers experiencing this exciting new format.  Skiers and coaches alike were undeniably energized, learning new skills and sharing camaraderie, smiles and laughter throughout the day.  For those who have never seen the ramps in action – the learning curve is inspiring – as athletes initial trepidation is quickly replaced with skillful movements and impressive speed as they rocket through the features after only a few attempts.  It’s an exciting prospect to watch how these new skills will play out for skiers on snow – but it is undeniable that the ramps force the athletes into athletic positions – making them more dynamic and comfortable on skis.

NENSA is very happy to bring our programming to the eastern reaches of New England and look forward to further  supporting cross country skiing in this region.  These events would not be possible without the support of the Hall Family, Joe Lamb of Lamb Lumber in Lake Placid, NY, and our major sponsors: Swix, Nokian Tyres and LL Bean.  Skiers were able to compete on our matched set of Swenor rollerskis which have seen use by over 500 skiers this summer.

As NENSA looks into the future we aim to build upon the success of our 2018 rollerski programs and expose cross country skiing to a broader audience – Cross Country Cross or Rollerski Sprint Agility is an exciting medium that has the potential to do just that!

Marin Colleta of Colby College and Graham Houtsma of Bates College were the overall winners of the first know Rollerski Cross event in the world.  Complete results are available at Bart Timing.

Many thanks to Steve Fuller of Flying Point Road Photography for recording the event.  Please visit his website to view and purchase photos from the event.

Rollerski action will resume this Saturday, November 3 in Stowe, Vermont with the second running of the Trapp Invitiational Rollerski Race.  This is the final race of five in the NENSA Bag Balm Rollerski Race Series – with top competitors from throughout the US on the start list including: Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, Caitlin Patterson, Simi Hamilton, Patrick Caldwell, Kyle Bratrud and Adam Martin.  They will be joined by juniors and collegiate skiers in a 1okm classic race that climbs from the town of Moscow to the Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center.  You can read more about that event here — and don’t forget to join us for the NENSA / NNF Winter Kickoff Party (and Award Ceremony) at the von Trapp Bierhall after the event!  Skiers will be awarded prize money for there overall placement in the series provided by Kathy and Marty Hall.

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