Ski Report, Sports

650 Youth Skiers Attend Bill Koch Festival

photo by Eric Hanson
Bea Johnson, a second-grader from Craftsbury, starts her race with the chief skunk telling the skiers when to go.

CRAFTSBURY – It is the biggest annual kids ski gathering in the Northeast, the Bill Koch Ski Festival. The event rotates from state to state and this year, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosted the two-day event for the first time. With well over 1,500 people, including parents and coaches, the scene was busy both on the roads and on the trails. The Craftsbury Town road crew made sure the new snowfall was plowed off the roads Saturday morning allowing the event to start on time. The two-person relays took place on Saturday with the four age classes: first- and second-grade, third- and fourth- grade, fifth- and sixth- grade, and seventh- and eighth- grade. But the Bill Koch League festival is much more than racing with ski speed trap timing, maple sugaring, horse sleigh rides, a mini-marathon, dodge ball games, terrain parks and jumps, scavenger hunts, food trucks, and more. All the various regions from northern Maine to upstate New York set up a tent city to base their regional skiers. Over 85 kids from Northeast Vermont were out there playing and racing.

On day two, the skiers put on their classic skis for the individual races and more fun and games. Dozens of volunteers helped direct cars, assist parent skiers, time the events, and everything else to make sure the event ran smoothly. Who is Bill Koch? He was a silver medalist at the 1976 Olympic games and lives in southern Vermont. A youth ski league was named after him and Bill has continued to be a mentor of these programs throughout the Northeast, and was at the event handing out medals and signing autographs.

photo by Eric Hanson
The finish lanes (middle right) and all the surrounding activity at the BKL Festival at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Day-2 State High School Ski Championships

RIPTON – Day two of the high school state championships turned snowy and blustery for the classic ski events. Amelia Circosta (Hazen Union) and Anika Leahy (Craftsbury, CA) led the local girls with fourth and seventh-place finishes, respectively, in the Division 2 race. Clare Serrano (U-32) had the fastest time of the day at 17:10. In the boys’ race, Leo Circosta (Hazen Union) placed fifth and Cormac Leahy (CA) was seventh. Other Craftsbury finishers included Silas Hunt 20th, Alan Moody, and Lenny Stelma-Leonard 57th. Max Demaine (Lake Region) placed 42nd. Middlebury skiers took the top two spots in Division 2. Craftsbury’s top skier, Charlie Kelher, came down with a bad cold so could not race and Alan Moody was only recently better from COVID, so between these illnesses, the boys did not field a four-person relay team eliminating them from overall team scoring.

photo by Eric Hanson
Aemelia Terrone, a sixth-grader from Craftsbury, leads a pack of skiers in girls relay.

Combining the two days of freestyle and classic ski racing and four events with the individual races and relays, Middlebury took home the boys D2 team title followed by Montpelier and Woodstock. The Craftsbury boys were finishing fourth and fifth in the races where they did have four skiers. In the girls’ team events, Middlebury also won the team title with Montpelier and U-32 in second and third.

photo by Eric Hanson
Max Demaine from Lake Region skis in the snowy high school state meet at the Rikert Touring Center last week.

Jessie Diggins Wins Gold at World Championships

PLIANCA, Slovenia – The U.S. Ski Team all-star, Jessie Diggins, won her first individual gold medal at a World Championship event in the 10 km freestyle ahead of Ebba Anderson and Fridda Karlson of Sweden. Diggins is the most decorated U.S. skier having won an Olympic gold medal in 2018 in the team sprint. This marks a big milestone for the U.S. Ski Team, which has a very small program compared to countries like Norway and Sweden. This is the first gold medal in an individual event for the U.S. at a World Championship or Olympic event. Jessie grew up in Minnesota but now lives in southern Vermont. She will be skiing at the Super Tour Spring Series and U.S. Distance and Sprint National Championships at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center at the end of the month.

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