Day two of the NENSA Eastern Cup Opener at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center saw the return of winter and high quality races from elite skiers, US and Canadian juniors, college skiers, and a strong masters field. Due to icy conditions the races were changed from mass to interval start for safety to the competitors. However this did not slow down the action, with competitors entering the course every fifteen seconds, creating dynamic tactics and constant action for spectators.
The first race of the day was the U16 Boys – many contesting for a spot on the New England Junior National Team. Aidan Burt of the Mansfield Nordic Club led the charge winning the 5km with a time of 12:32 and improving on his second place finish in Saturday’s sprint. First year U16, Trey Jones of the Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS), continued to show his speed crossing the line just 15 seconds behind Burt. Mathias Boudreau-Golfman of the Stratton Mountain School had a breakthrough race finding himself on the U16 podium for the first time in the third position.
The U16 Girls were seeded among the open women’s field also competing in a 5km. In a similar flip-flop of top positions it was first year Ava Thurston of Mansfield besting Quincy Massey-Bierman of Mansfield/Craftsbury with a time of 14:30, with Massey-Bierman just 11 seconds back. Camille Bolduc, also of Craftsbury took her first trip to an Eastern Cup podium with a third place finish and a time of 15:08.
In the both the men’s and women’s open races there was impressive talent at the top of the field with skiers with World Cup, World Junior Championship and NCAA experience. Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury GRP, who sat out the sprint was able to secure the victory with a time of 12:53 a mere four seconds ahead of Jessica Eaton of APU. Julia Kern of SMS T2 showed her versatility and found herself on the podium for the second time in two days taking third with a time of 13:07.
Ben Lustgarten of the Craftsbury GRP put on a display of technique and strength for his home crowd on his way to overall victory in the men’s race – skiing the 10km course in a blazing fast 23:20. Look for Lustgarten starting the Tour de Ski this coming weekend in Toblach, Italy! Kris Freeman, Caldwell Sport, showed that despite his “retirement” from professional ski racing he still has form enough to find the podium – placing second, just 13 seconds behind. Zane Fields of Colby College showed the strength of the EISA circuit with a third place finish just three seconds off Freeman’s heals.
The heart of both days fields were filled with U18 and U20 skiers vying for the New England Junior National Team – a Team that has led the US at Junior Nationals for the past five years and a testament to the depth of talent in the Eastern region. Taking top honors for the boys on Sunday were: Ben Ogden of the University of Vermont for the U20’s and Brian Bushey of GMVS for U18. For the girls it was: Sophia Laukli of SMS for U20 and Abigail Streinz racing for Craftsbury for U18.
At the conclusion of each race there was a masters competition which was scored for Zak Cup competition and all ages were scored to Club Cup. NENSA is proud to support racing of all levels and promote participation of club skiers from throughout New England. Taking the top three positions for the masters men were a trio of Northwest Vermont Endurance (NWVE) skiers: Eli Enman, Tyler Magnan and Tom Thurston. For the women it was Alex Jospe of the Cambridge Sports Union with an impressive time of 15:01 to lead the field and Kasie Enman and Jessica Bolduc both of NWVE.
All of the weekends races have been scored to the NENSA rankings page, where you can find up to date JN, Zak and Club standings. Thank you to Craftsbury, the competitors, spectators and volunteers who made this opening weekend such a great success! Citizen racing (and Zak Cup competition) resumes on January 5th at the Gunstock Zak Attack and Eastern Cup competition resumes at the end of January at the Lake Placid SuperTour and NENSA Eastern Cup #2 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg
Happy New Year from NENSA — we look forward to seeing many of you at US Cross Country Championships starting January 3rd.