Hundreds of top-notch skiers race at Rikert Center

RIPTON — More than 400 skiers took part in races on the first day of the two-day New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) Eastern Cup Opener at the Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton just before Christmas, and that many again competed the following day.

Indeed, the event not only drew large numbers of people to the area, but the racing was of a high caliber.

“The quality of the fields was very high,” said event organizer Keith Wilkerson, executive director of Frost Mountain Nordic. “New England is home to some of the top skiers in the U.S., and several teams from Quebec and Ontario — as far away as Toronto — came down for the competition.

“Overall, the weekend was a great success.”

The races took place on Dec. 20 and 21.

Wilkerson pointed to the victory by Olympian Andy Newell in the 10K classic — the Shaftsbury resident covered the 6.2-mile course in 24:44.10, just 13 seconds ahead of Gordon Vermeer of the Craftsbury Nordic team — as a high point in the action. There were also many others, he said:

“Katharine Ogden, the 17-year-old daughter of Middlebury alumnus John Ogden, winning the women’s race both days against some really high-quality skiers; Paddy Caldwell winning Sunday’s 15K by more than a minute; the battle between Adam Witkowski and Russell Boswell for the 16-and-younger boys, going one-two both days, with Adam winning Saturday and Russell Sunday…

“Andy Newell, Paddy Caldwell, David Sinclair, Katharine Ogden, Erika Flowers and Jennie Bender are all national level skiers who raced and were pushed by the Vermont and New England contingent,” Wilkerson added.

In addition to the athletic success, Wilkerson said the economic impact of bringing hundreds to Addison County during an off-peak time was being evaluated.

“The initial impressions are very positive,” he said. “The host hotel, the Middlebury Inn, sold 74 room nights during what is usually considered a ‘quiet weekend.’”

He credited many energetic volunteers and the helpful folks at the ski center for making the events come together nicely, and hopes that the group will bid for another NENSA event next season.

“Overall, the weekend was a great success,” Wilkerson said.

Results for the races below include the first three places plus finishers with local ties; SMS is Stratton Mountain School:

Men’s 10K Classic – 174 racers

1. Andy Newell, 24:44.10, U.S. Ski Team, Shaftsbury.

2. Gordon Vermeer, 24:57.30, Craftsbury Nordic, Craftsbury Common.

3. David Sinclair, 25:04.20, Green Mountain Valley School, Waitsfield.

23. Adam Luban, 27:00.10, Middlebury College Ski Team.

86. Nicholas Underwood, 29:46.30, Middlebury College.

173. Rick Klein, 40:57.00, Frost Mountain Nordic, Ripton.

Boys U16 5K Classic – 52 racers

1. Adam Witkowski, 14:28.5, Stratton Mountain School, Peru.

2. Russell Boswell, 14:31.5, SMS, Putney.

3. Adam Glueck, 14:35.8, Ford Sayre, Hanover, N.H.

8. Nicholas Wilkerson, 15:06.8, Frost Mountain Nordic, Middlebury.

12. Samuel Hodges, 15:13.0, Frost Mountain Nordic, Cornwall.

27. Tom Hussey, 16:28.8, Frost Mountain Nordic, Ripton.

37. Benjamin Jerome, 17:33.6, Holderness Nordic, Brandon.

38. Cade Christner, 18:07.6, Frost Mountain Nordic, Ripton.

Girls U16 5K Classic – 42 racers

1. Mae Chalmers, 17:21.0, SMS, Landgrove.

2. Kirsten Miller, 17:27.8, Norwich.

3. Lillian Fisher, 18:03.3, SMS, Brattleboro.

Women’s 5K Classic – 182 racers

1. Katharine Ogden, 14:55.00, SMS, Landgrove.

2. Heather Mooney, 14:59.00, Middlebury College, Peru.

3. Erika Flowers, 15:18.30, SMS T2.

15. Kaitlin Fink, 16:34.30, Middlebury College.

20. Cate Brams, 16:54.00, Middlebury College.

24. Alia Johnson, 16:58.90, Middlebury College, Bristol.

28. Britta Clark, 17:14.10, Bates Nordic, Ripton.

64. Sophie Hodges, 18:14.60, SMS, Cornwall.

Men’s 15K Skate – 173 racers

1. Patrick Caldwell, 33:07.9, Dartmouth Ski Team, Lyme Center, N.H.

2. Gordon Vermeer, 34:24.9, Craftsbury Nordic, Craftsbury Common.

3. Jack Hegman, 34:27.5, UVM Ski Team, Huntington.

23. Adam Luban, 36:17.7, Middlebury College.

42. Malcolm Groves, 37:53.6, Bowdoin Ski Team, Cornwall.

Boys U16 5K Skate – 52 racers

1. Russell Boswell, 12:22.30, SMS, Putney.

2. Adam Witkowski, 12:24.10, SMS, Peru.

3. Walker Bean, 12:26.00, Green Mountain Valley School, Montpelier.

7. Samuel Hodges, 12:49.60, Frost Mountain Nordic, Cornwall.

9. Nicholas Wilkerson, 12:55.90, Frost Mountain Nordic, Middlebury.

23. Tom Hussey, 13:31.50, Frost Mountain Nordic, Ripton.

45. Cade Christner, 15:38.10, Frost Mountain Nordic, Ripton.

Girls U16 5K Skate – 37 racers

1. Mae Chalmers, 14:23.7, SMS, Landgrove.

2. Kirsten Miller, 14:27, Norwich.

3. Alia Sanger, 14:49.10, Chelsea Nordiq, Ottawa.

Women’s 10K Skate – 125 racers

1. Katharine Ogden, 25:43.40, SMS, Landgrove.

2. Erika Flowers, 25:48.10, SMS T2.

3. Jennie Bender, 26:18.90, Bridger Ski Foundation, Johnson.

5, Heather Mooney, 26:27.90, Middlebury College.

12. Kaitlin Fink, 27:38.80, Middlebury College.

18. Cate Brams, 28:48.60, Middlebury College.

23. Britta Clark, 29:16.70, Bates Nordic, Ripton.

30. Sophie Hodges, 29:50.00, SMS, Cornwall.

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