The 2016 New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) U16 Championships at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine concluded March 13th, after three days of fun, tough and competitive competition.
Four U16 men and four U16 women from the Midwest Division, competed among some of the best U16 athletes from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and New York. The Midwest Division came away with several podium and top ten finishes.
“Great experience for our skiers to travel and race in a different region.” Said Coach Steve Swenson. “They got to experience “classic” New England skiing: narrow trails and Klister. The conditions taught skiers to roll with the punches, they had to be flexible and the kids did great.”
“It was a great experience meeting people from other teams and bonding with the Midwest team, said a Midwest Team athlete.”
Competition kicked off March 11th with a 5k freestyle race. In the women’s 5k, all four Midwest girls finished in the top 20. Leah Rudd (Plymouth, MN) led the Midwest U16 women’s team as she grabbed a spot on the podium, finishing third overall. Abigail Streinz (Hersey, ME) finished first by 8.5 seconds over Madeline Kitch (Belmont, MA) who was second. Kasia Bednarski (Minneapolis, MN) snatched a spot in the top five, finishing fifth overall, Olivia Dreger (Marathon, MN) was 12th and Val Hart (Stillwater, MN) was 19th.
“I’ve never really traveled for skiing before, it was totally worth it.” Said a Midwest Team athlete. “We got to get to know the people we traveled with a lot better as well as meet people from the East.”
In the men’s 5k race, all four Midwest boys finished in the top 15. Noah Bodewes (Hazelhurst, WI) led the Midwest U16 boys finishing sixth overall. Bodewes was just five seconds out of the top five. Joshua Valentine (Gilford, NH) skied to a convincing first place finish, 15.2 seconds ahead of Matthew Moreau (Falmouth, ME) and Baxter Bishop (Williston, VT) who was third. Ben Olson (Coon Rapid, MN) and Alex Nemeth (Sartell, MN) were in the top 10, finishing ninth and 10th, respectively, followed by Joe Lynch (St. Anthony, MN) in 13th.
Warm temperatures and tough conditions greeted racers and coaches on Saturday, for the second day of competition which was a grueling back-to-back race day. The first race was a 5k classic followed by a 1.2k classic sprint. In the 5k, Rudd led the U16 girls team once again, finishing sixth overall, just 4.1 seconds out of the top five. Perrin Milliken (Norwich, VT) edged Madeline Kitch (Belmont, MA) for the victory, by just 0.7 second. Eilidh McKinnon (Center Con, NH) finished close behind in third. Hart was the next Midwest girl, finishing eighth overall, followed by Bednarski in 18th.
“This trip taught us how to figure out how to ski in these conditions: Klister, fast rising temps, slow and sloppy snow. Said a Midwest Team athlete”
In the men’s 5k classic race, Joshua Valentine (Gilford, NH) claimed his second NENSA U16 Championship victory, 16.4 seconds ahead of Oliver Snow (Weston, MA) and Thomas Hussey (Middlebury, VT) who finished third. Olson led the Midwest team finishing 11th overall, followed by Lynch in 13th, Nemeth 16th and Bodewes 27th.
In the 1.2k classic sprint, three Midwest girls finished in the top ten. Bednarski led the Midwest girls team, grabbing a spot on the podium, finishing third overall. Perrin Milliken claimed her second NENSA U16 Championship victory, 5.45 seconds ahead of teammate Johanna Bandler (Norwich, VT) who finished second. Hart was the next Midwest girl, finishing eighth overall, followed by Rudd in 8th and Dreger in 13th.
In the men’s U16 sprints, all four Midwest boys finished in the top 25. Nathan Smoller (VT) grabbed the sprint victory, 4.98 seconds ahead of teammate Hussey and Valentine who finished third. Olson led the Midwest team finishing 11th overall and was just 3.6 seconds out of the top 10. Lynch was the next Midwest boy, finishing 16th, followed by Bodewes in 19th and Nemeth in 21st.
Competition concluded Sunday with a 1.2k skate sprint. Bednarski and Rudd finished second and third overall in the U16 girls sprint. Abigail Streinz (Hersey, ME) claimed her second NENSA U16 Championship victory by 3.97 seconds over Bednarski. The battle for second between Bednarski and Rudd was close as Bednarski stole second, 2.5 seconds over Rudd who finished third. Dreger was the next Midwest girl, finishing 14th, followed by Hart in 15th.
All four Midwest boys finished in the top 15 in the 1.2k freestyle sprints. Matthew Moreau (Falmouth, ME) edged Oliver Snow by 0.10 seconds to claim the sprint victory. Valentine followed close behind, finishing third overall. Olson led the Midwest team, grabbing a spot in the top five, finishing fifth overall. Lynch was the next Midwest boy, finishing seventh overall, followed by Bodewes in 12th and Nemeth in 13th.
“I was amazed at the warmth and hospitality exhibited to our team by coaches, athletes, and parents across the New England area.” Said Coach Kelley Skillicorn. “It was a great all round experience. We felt very welcomed, they kept telling us to come back!”
“I can’t say enough how beneficial I think this trip is to our aspiring young athletes.” Said Coach Kris Hanson. “The experience they gained by being on this trip will last their whole athletic career.”