Snow Time Like Race Time
Co-written by Ian Culnane and William Nolan
After missing the second race of the season last Saturday due to lack of snow, the skiers of the Berkshire Nordic Ski League were eager to get racing again back at Prospect Mountain in Woodford, Vermont. With many athletes returning from winter break, sixty-four new skiers were added to the starting lists, with boosts coming from Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) and Berkshire Country Day School (BCD) who both missed the first race. NMH, a private school in central Massachusetts, adds strong skiing and competition while BCD brings positive energy and enthusiasm.
The frigid air and snowy skies made the walk from the buses to the entrance of the Prospect lodge daunting. Like Barney Stinson, teams “suited up” in preparation for the single digit temperatures. No team was more crafty than the Millionaires who reinforced the insides of their race suits with duct tape to protect themselves from the painful wrath of windburn. The freezing bodies of skiers were warmed by the camaraderie of competitors, like Shannon Meisberger from Lenox, who cheerfully delivered high-fives to all.
The varsity skiers traversed a roughly 7K two lap course covered with lovely groomed snow, which was quite a turnaround from the bare and icy conditions of last week. JV skiers raced on an identical layout, less the second lap, for a total of 4.5 kilometers. The cold temperatures created slower trails, however, making the wave-style race a little more strenuous, both physically and mentally. In addition, the course-makers added a slightly longer finishing loop, bringing skiers flying out of Woodpecker and into the crowd mobbing the Prospect arena around the finish chute. All in all, the new course (free from non-racing skiers) allowed for a technical and enjoyable tour of the scenic ski area.
On the boys side, we saw very similar results to the league race eleven days ago. A tight pack led the varsity standings, with Mount Greylock’s William Nolan and Ian Culnane, NMH skier Estevan Velez, and Greylock’s Matthew Wiseman all finishing within fourteen seconds. Rounding out the top 10 were MG skiers Jake Kobrin (5th), Jonathan Driver (6th), Jake Foehl (7th), Joseph Gais (8th) and Thomas Schoorlemmer (10th). Sneaking into the 9th spot was Amherst skier Willie Wright, a freshman who is sure to stake his claim in the top ten in future races this season and beyond. Commendable performances also came from NMH skier Toby Weed, Hoosac Valley’s Jared Haley and Lenox skier Matas Rudzinskas, who all duked it out to the end; finishing within six seconds of each other and claiming places 11 through 13. Perhaps the biggest improvement came from Wahconah athlete Moses Greenspan who moved up an impressive eight spots from race one. Matthew Rabasco, top skier for Taconic/PHS and a strong cross country runner, made a valiant stab at a top twenty finish, a feat for which his parents will reward him with a brand new pair of skis (or so he says). In the team standings Greylock took first with 12 points, NMH second with 37 points, while Amherst edged out Wahconah 60 to 63 for the last spot on the podium.
In the girls’ varsity race, MG’s Grace Smith (29:07) dominated again pulling away from the field to finish nearly two minutes ahead of her Mohawk’s Alison Lull (30:57) skiing out of the third wave. A Greylock triumvirate of Sophie Gerry, Greta Savitsky, and Christina Butcher completed the top five finishers. Just five seconds out of fifth were Wahconah’s Stacey Tutela and Lenox’s Alice Huth respectively who both put in their strongest performances to date. NMH’s Loulou Tanski (8th) and MG’s Ellie Williams and Niku Darafshi rounded out the top ten. Greylock earned a team score of 12 followed by NMH with 51, Mohawk with 65 and Amherst with 67.
As the boys and girls JV races got underway, the sun emerged from its doldrums, warming up the temperature for all the racers to enjoy the skiing without fear of losing all feeling in their appendages. In the boys’ race first year MG skier Sam Kobrin skied away with the win on the 4.5k course. After the downhill team was cut from MG this year, Sam decided not to give up ski racing and transferred to the Nordic team, joining his twin brother Jake. Following close behind Sam was a swarm of MG skiers led by eighth grader Jakin Miller (who fought his way to second from the last wave), last race winner Zach Armet, junior Graham Kaegi and junior Samuel Swoap.
In the JV girls’ race, the defending gold and silver medalists flip-flopped from the last competition, with Greylock’s Emma Polumbo (Freshman) charging to victory in a time of 20:45, closely followed by Brandi Gil (7th grade). Behind Brandi was Catherine Cavalli, making her Nordic racing debut by started in the last wave, and nearly passing the entire field to claim third place. The third girl to cross the line was Tenley Smith (unrelated to Grace and Margo Smith, Zeke Smith, and Owen Tucker-Smith), tackling her first race of the year. More strong showings came from fifth place finisher Ariel Dupras, Mohawk competitor Mae Rice-Lesure (6th), MG’s Rosie Walter and Emily Lescarbeau (7th and 8th), and NMH’s Isobel Rountree and Emma Lindale (9th and 10th).
The strength of the League and the popularity of Nordic skiing showed in the total number of competitors with 249 athletes participating. Due to limited training opportunities, the next Berkshire County League race will be changed from a classic-style competition to a freestyle race hosted by and held at Mt. Greylock Regional High School. Though Greylock will probably need a little help from Mother Nature before this race can be realized, the league will keep its hopes high to ski at a new venue and to continue enjoying New England winters in the most integrated and fulfilling way.
The Berkshire League got its 2014/15 campaign underway at Prospect Mountain on Tuesday.
(For complete results click the title of this post)
By Thomas “Chi City” Schoorlemmer and Jake “Jakey-boy” Kobrin
Racers were all smiles at the 6th Annual Mathias Bartels Scholarship race last Sunday as they began lining up for the 6K – the first race of the day. Skiers and spectators alike were present to celebrate the life of Mathias Bartels and to support the scholarship fund in his name. The Mathias Jessup Bartels Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior who exhibits the integrity, kindness, and commitment to excellence shown by Mathias. Entrants in the race included Berkshire alums, coaches, former Olympians, second graders, and High School skiers and their families. Most people were looking to have a fun day out on skis, and for many Mount Greylock alums, that meant proving that they’re still the baddest Nordic skiers around. Some of the County’s fastest skiers duked it out for over six kilometers of rolling hills, sharp climbs, and welcomed descents. Evan Dethier, Topher Sabot, Will Kirby, Nick Fogel, and Will Nolan all fought for the title of the best Greylock skier. They were joined by a contingent of Northfield Mount Herman, Lenox, Wahconah, Hoosac, and Mohawk racers, as well as many other Mountie teammates and skiers from the tri-state region.
Hiram Greene, the unofficial-official Spirit of Winter and course groomer, was recruited to start the race. After he roared “Go!”, the course was a flurry of snow as the racers struggled to advance their position without having much hard snow to pole on. This was thanks to 18” of new snow that fell consistently the two days prior to the event. A lead pack formed just after the start but spread out by the top of apple tree hill where Mathias’ monument stands. As the top skiers distanced themselves from each other, the next group of racers attempted to maintain their place, making dicey passes in tight situations. Behind the leaders, family members moseyed along, happily following in the racers tracks. The Lenox Ski team helped a previously injured teammate though the course from start to finish. This care and kindness is what the Mathias race is truly about. Families and friends had a great time sharing their love of Nordic skiing while supporting the Bartels’ family and the memory of Mathias.
The weather could not have been any better with a strong gusty wind petering out just prior to race time. A bright blue sky, fresh snow, and smiling Nordies made the event a joy for all. When Evan Dethier glided effortlessly into the finish, a large group of supporters were on hand to congratulate him for his win. Next came Topher Sabot, Northfield Mount Herman’s Estevan Velez and Henry Colt, and recently graduated “out of shape” Greylock skier Will Kirby. Greylock’s Grace Smith beat out her mom, Brenda Smith, by one second to be the first female finisher. They claimed 16th and 17th places respectively.
The next race was the 3k, which saw Michael Virgilio, Luke Sedor Protti, and Devon Mikaniewicz take the gold, silver, and bronze in the boys’ division. The girls’ 3K race was claimed by Heidi Peterson who also participated in the 6K. Clarissa Pollard and Louisa Kimball took second and third. 76 year old Grandma Fisher skied the course right alongside seven year old Phoebe Barnes showing how Nordic skiing can unite those of all ages and abilities. With skiers still milling around from the previous race, these finishers received a strong cheer when they crossed the finish line.
Leigh Niedeck and Thane Adams charged through the lollipop course presenting one of the cutest sights of the day. Leigh showed off both her classic and skating techniques en route to first place.
The Olympic theme music and announcing by Mark Santella provided special inspiration to the racers. After the races had finished, everyone made their way inside to eat delicious chili and baked goods. Participants perused the table of fabulous prizes, soon to be awarded to the top finishers in a variety of age categories. These racers could choose from Camelbacks, Swix duffels, waxing kits, and even top notch technical outerwear. But probably the most coveted prize was quickly grabbed by Matt Voisin of FasterSkier fame: the highly sought-after “Tower of Bunnies.” What age category he won, we’re not entirely sure, but he certainly won in the prize department.
After the standings were announced and the prizes claimed, Philip Bartels gave a heartfelt speech about his brother Mathias, and thanked all of the participants, organizers, and sponsors who made this amazing event possible. The Greylock Ski Team, in turn, presented a team card to the Bartels family.
All were appreciative of the Bartels’ family’s efforts and the volunteers who organized such a great race for the whole community. Mathias is a reminder to us all to never take anything for granted and to live our lives to the fullest everyday. Races like this one help us focus on what really matters – family, friends, and community (and good ‘ole Nordic skiing!).
Co-Written By Will “Wolan” Nolan and Ian “Culnawné” Culnane
With new snow, and love in the air, the Berkshire nordic ski league headed back into the mountainous terrain for a Valentines themed final league race. Despite temperatures hovering around zero, the buses were able to start without trouble, and everyone congregated early in the morning at Notchview Reservation. Following the storm on Wednesday, the trails boasted fresh snow (where little had been before), which became sugary at points following the teams’ warm-ups.
Very similar to the upcoming State course on Tuesday, the Berkshire County Nordic Ski League gained insight into what lies ahead. Most of the state course was included: Ant Hill, Stair case, and the ever notorious Shaw Road. On Tuesday, an extra kilometer will be tacked on featuring an extended Shaw and an even longer downhill. Leaving the stadium, skiers experienced strong winds, pushing them to go faster, or (such as when ascending Shaw) slowing them down to a grueling pace. While new snow often makes for great conditions, the light powder we received this past week made long glides a struggle in some locations.
On the boys varsity side, a new course meant new results. First time winner, Henry Colt skied in for a gold performance with a time of 21:26. Fellow NMHer Estevan Velez finished just behind, rocking pink Valentine boxers over his already shnazzy spandex. It’s safe to say Estevan makes skiing a spectator sport. Forty seconds behind Velez, MG skier Matthew Wiseman finished with a time of 22:19. Coming in 4th with the best finish of his season, Tyler “Meg” Andrews from Mohawk, broke up the Mount Greylock wolf pack separating Wiseman from teammates Ian “Culnawné” Culnane, Will “Wolan” Nolan and Jake Foehl (Who received quality digits today, which speaks for itself). Rounding out the top 10 were Wahconah skier Curran “Doyle Curran” Doyle, Jared Haley representing the hurricanes, and Jonah Hudson-Erdman. Both Haley and Hudson-Erdman finished with their best skate results to date. Henry Colt and Estevan Velez, and the whole NMH team will not be attending states. When asked what he enjoyed about our league Henry said “the camaraderie among teams in the berkshire league is even a little better than my other league”. Leaving our league with good memories and better times.
Mountie Grace “G-Smitty” Smith continued her fantastic season with another crushing victory. She finished with a time of 24:52, followed by Allison Lull of Mohawk and Lenox’s Josie “JoMar” Marshall, with times of 26:05 and 26:12, respectively. The top five featured five separate teams, the fourth and fifth spots claimed by NMH’s Louise “Roo” Weed and Wahconah’s Ellen Ross. Sophie Gerry came in next, continuing her solid season, followed by Louise “Loulou” Tanski (NMH), Christina Butcher (MG), Valerie Willocq (AMH), and Izzy Lotocki (NMH) to complete the top ten.
Greylock had strong showings in both JV races, with Joseph “José” Gais and Laura “Laurel” Galib both capturing their first wins. On the boys side, Gais was followed by teammates John Driver, Carter “=speed” Stripp, and Cameron Castonguay. The fifth spot was claimed by Wahconah’s Sean Harvey not far behind. In the girls race, Mt. Greylock’s Tenley Smith took second, and Eve Charest of NMH third. Greylock’s new Olympian in-training Margo Smith, and Simsbury skier Ellen Ransley took the next two spots to complete the top five. All JVers delivered impressive times, especially considering Varsity boys and girls had already given the course quite a beating.
As the races ended, with endorphins clouding young minds, Valentines were exchanged. The superior Valentine prize, easily goes to the Lenox team, who came up with many ski-related quips, ensuring amusement. The league also engaged in a snowball fight, Revolutionary war style. People pelted each other with snowballs, quite irrationally refusing to move or run away. And of course, everyone also participated in the Flash Mob, organized by resident fitness man, stud, oakley wearer, dj and choreographer, Mark Santella.
As we round off the season, teams looks forward to taking on the Eastern Mass racers, competing for our honor.
By: Abbi Yezierski
Lack of snow has forced the majority of our races to be held at Mohawk Trail Regional High school this season. The course has become so familiar to us skiers, we could ski it in our sleep. Luckily this week, the weather cooperated enough so we could race at a new venue – Wahconah High school.
The course was a windy 2.8 miles through soccer fields and football fields. The snow was chopped up powder by the time the races began. It was a beautiful 43 degrees – perfect ski conditions, not only for the races, but for spectators too. Finally there was no need to wear a raincoat, seek refuge in the warm cafeteria or layer jacket after jacket.
Days before the race, the Mohawk team discussed the history of the Wahconah course with experienced members trying to prep the newbies. They told us about the start: a semi mass start that goes for about 100 meters and then up a wall! We all thought about it night and day, trying to imagine this “wall” they were talking about. We have only started by mass start once this season at Berkshire East and just could not imagine a mass start up a “wall”. This surely was not going to end well. Upon arrival we were all equally pleased to hear that the start had been changed and we would not all be scrambling to go up the steep hill together.
As girls and boys skied their warmup laps, others began doing stretches and pole runs to prepare themselves for the race. The first wave of varsity boy skiers went off like a rocket. The top five boys in the race held a strong pack that traded leads and ultimately finished a full minute before the next racer. Top two finishers Will Nolan (MG) and Henry Colt (NMH) battled it out until the very end, coming across the finish line in a photo finish. Nolan shot out his toe World Cup-style and was declared the winner. Matthew Wiseman (MG) finished strong 12 seconds back with Ian Culnane (MG) and Jake Foehl (MG) rounding out the strong five-person pack. Next skier across the line was Tyler Andrews from Mohawk with his best finish to date. Teammate Tom Damery claimed 16th place for a strong showing from the Mohawk team.
Girls’ varsity went off 20 minutes after the boys start. Luckily there was a great crew out on the course, filling in grass patches and raking the chopped up areas after the boys went by. The top girls in the league went off like race horses at the start. Mount Greylock’s Grace Smith skied to victory just 12 seconds ahead of Alison Lull (Mohawk). Lull was followed shortly by Josie Marshall (Lenox) and Sophie Gerry(MG). Ellen Ross (W) rounded out the top five.
Both JV races went smoothly as well. Mount Greylock claimed the top 7 places in the boys’ JV race with John Driver, Carter Stripp, and Tommy Kirby claiming first through third places respectively. On the girls side Greylock claimed the top 9 places. Mollyann Haskins took first place with teammates Margo Smith and Emma Palumbo following shortly behind.
All the skiers did excellent considering the long weekend they had last weekend with a league race on Saturday and the EHS and J2 qualifying races on Sunday.
All racers will return to Notchview ski area this weekend for the final league race before State Championship on February 11th.
By Ellen Ross and Meghan Moody
Two weeks ago the league apprehensively made their way to Mohawk Trail, unsure of conditions, trail width, and frustrated over the lack of snow. This week excitement filled the air as skiers looked forward to returning to the “diamond in the rough” that is Mohawk Trail. However, as the first classic race of the season, inexperienced skiers with barely a week of practice jokingly questioned if they could “skate when nobody is looking” and asked “wait, HOW many steps are allowed on those s-turns?!” as they remembered the fast corners of the skate race. To the joy of some and sadness of others, several of the slippery s-turns were removed and replaced with a smoother downhill.
The two-lap course provided both Varsity and JV skiers with plenty of opportunities to work on their double pole and kick double pole technique, as well as several gradual hills that tested both skiers’ stride technique and trust in their kick wax. As race time approached, skiers ran back and forth from the warm Mohawk cafeteria to the rather brisk conditions outside, testing layer after layer of kick wax and wondering which poles to use. Some skiers were excited, knowing that their classic race would yield better individual results, while others preferred skate skiing and wondered anxiously if they would move down on the results sheet.
At 10 am, the Varsity girls were the first to hit the snow, remembering the two weeks prior when they were standing at the start line in the middle of a downpour. This time, however, conditions were perfect as wave after wave went off. Lenox’s Josie Marshall pulled (or should we say poled?) ahead of Mohawk’s Allison Lull and Mount Greylock’s Grace Smith early in the first lap and claimed her first victory of the season with a time of 18:33. Lull crossed the finish line eight seconds later, showing her prowess on her home course. Smith, who has clenched all three skate wins this season, finished third with a time of 19:23. Rounding out the top five were NMH’s Roo Weed (20:02) and Wahconah’s Ellen Ross (20:05).
On the boys’ side, Will Nolan won with a time of 16:08, three seconds ahead of NMH’s Henry Colt. Greylock’s Matthew Wiseman crossed the line at 16:17, with Greylock’s Jake Foehl and NMH’s Estevan Velez right behind with times of 16:22 and 16:29, respectively.
In the JV girls’ race, Lenox’s Emma Jourdain earned the victory with a time of 22:55. Following right behind were Greylock’s Emma Palumbo, Laura Galib, Holly Fisher, and Mollyann Haskins. On the boys’ side, the top five spots all went to Mount Greylock; Thomas Schoorlemmer won with a time of 17:19, and John Driver, Graham Kaegi, Owen Brandriss, and Cameron Castonguay crossed the line soon after.
Both the skate and classic J2/EHS Qualifiers will be hosted at Mohawk Trail on Sunday, finishing off a busy weekend for the league.
Select photos from some of the top performers:
All photos courtesy of Cheryl Sacks.