The Star-Herald

Weekly digital jigsaw – Regional Nordic races draw hundreds – Star-Herald

FORT KENT, Maine  Single digit temperatures over the weekend did not deter competitors in the New England Nordic Ski Association Eastern Cup Nordic Ski races at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center.

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Nearly 100 skiers gathered for the mass start of the men’s 10-kilometer event on Sunday, filling the stadium with colorful uniforms. The day featured both 5- and 10-kilometer distance races, for various age groups.

On Saturday, races took part in multiple qualifying heats on the shorter 1.4-K spring freestyle course.

Former Fort Kent resident Kamran Husain, who now attends Dartmouth College, finished in 6th place in Saturday’s men’s open freestyle sprint finals. On Sunday, he captured 6th place in the 10-K distance event.

“The skiing is excellent,” Jim Rodrigues said on Sunday

Rodrigues, a technical delegate from the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association, said it has been several years since a full 5-K course was available this early in the season in the Northeast. In the past, organizers at other locations have had to build shorter courses with man-made snow and have athletes do multiple loops.

“We’re thrilled,” said Justin Beckwith, a competitive program director with NENSA. “They’ve done an amazing job.”

The event, the first of four Eastern Cup cross country ski races sanctioned by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association, attracted many of the top junior athletes who are competing for points toward a spot on the national junior team.

The conditions were good on Sunday for 14-year-old Quincy Massey-Bierman, who took first place in the Under 16 5-K race.

“The grooming was really good,” she said. “And the snow is really nice.”

Massey-Bier, who lives in Burlington, Vermont, and skis with Craftsbury Nordic, said she has been skiing since she was about 1 year old.

The main categories for points in the competitions were the Under 16, or U16, and the U18/20 groups. The event also was open to skiers outside of those groups who wanted to compete.

More than 200 skiers were signed up in multiple age groups for Saturday’s cross country sprint races, with an equal number signed up for Sunady’s events.

Athletes from across New England, New York state and some skiers from Quebec took part in the event, which event organizer and FKOC president Carl Theriault said was the largest group of athletes ever assembled for a competition at the outdoor center.

Theriault said the competition went very well, with no issues and plenty of snow. A winter storm just a few days earlier dumped several inches of new snow on top of what was already a good base.

The temperatures had barely reached 10 degrees by late morning on Sunday, despite a bright sun. The thermometer had reached no higher on Saturday. The cold temps, though, were no obstacle for skiers.

“It’s no problem,” Theriault said. “They love it.”

Carter Ros, originally from Idaho, and now a freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, agreed that it was cold, but added that “the conditions are pretty fast.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “It is a really nice place to ski.”

This weekend’s NENSA event was Ros’ first time at the Fort Kent facility.

“It feels so professional up here, with all the signs,” he said.

For Tucker Pierce, it was a return trip to the Outdoor Center, where he had previously trained with local coach Seth Hubbard.

“I love it here,” said Pierce. “It’s a long way to travel, but it’s worth it.”

Pierce, who is from New Gloucester, also is a freshman at Bates and skis with Ros.

More information about the NENSA events and results can be found at the center’s website.

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