The Racing Scene in New England and Beyond
The cross-country ski racing scene is complicated and can be quite confusing to athletes and parents alike. Below are descriptions of the various levels of ski racing that exist and the organizations that support them. CSU athletes compete in most of these areas throughout the season.
- Nordic Ski Organizations
The New England Nordic Ski Association is the governing body for all ski racing that is not part of any school league. It sanctions races all over New England for children (BKL league for ages 8-13), for Juniors (age 14-19), for Seniors (age 20-29), and for Masters (30 and over). It also schedules several major events for junior racers — including the U16 Championships and the Eastern High School Championships (EHS) — as well as sending a team from New England to the Junior National Championships (JNs).
Note: We require that all CSU athletes join NENSA.
The Massachusetts ski coaches also organize a State Qualifier race to select the state teams for the U16 Championships and the Eastern High School Championships. This race is usually held in late January and early February. All CSU members participate in these races, and a majority of our athletes qualify for one or both of these events.
According to their web site, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association “is an Olympic sports organization providing leadership and direction for tens of thousands of young skiers and snowboarders, encouraging and supporting them in achieving excellence. By empowering national teams, clubs, coaches, parents, officials, volunteers and fans, U.S. Ski & Snowboard is committed to the progression of its sports, athlete success and the value of team. Established in 1905, U.S. Ski & Snowboard receives no direct government support, operating solely through private donations from individuals, corporations and foundations to fund athletic programs to assist athletes in reaching their dreams. The organization is based in Park City, UT.”
USSA is a national organization, and although CSU is a USSA Member Club, individual athletes must obtain their own USSA memberships. USSA numbers are often required for races that CSU participates in, so you should plan on obtaining a USSA membership number in addition to a NENSA membership.
- Organized Ski Racing for High School Aged Athletes
High School Teams
Many skiers in our program compete for their high-school teams. Some cannot be on a high school team because they are still in 8th grade or their school has no team. CSU exists both as a supplementary program for those athletes with teams and as a surrogate team for those who do not have them. Note that high-school teams ski using the skate (freestyle) technique only and do not practice or race using the classical technique (unlike NENSA- and USSA-sponsored races, which use both techniques).
As an organization, CSU enjoys very cordial relationships with all the local high-school coaches, and we wish to keep things that way. If you are on a high-school team, you have an obligation to that team and should attend its practices and participate in its races. You should also be aware that there are certain restrictions that the MIAA has in effect that might prevent high-school team members from participating in some CSU practices during the season. Please check with your high-school coach should you have any questions or issues. Also, in the rare event of a scheduling conflict between CSU events and high-school events please consult with the coaches of both CSU and your high-school team. We will work to find a solution that is amenable to all and that stays within the MIAA rules and guidelines.
High School Leagues
In Eastern Massachusetts, the following schools have teams divided into two leagues that are part of the MIAA:
Mass Bay West
Mass Bay East
In addition, Belmont Hill School has a team that competes in the Prep School league.
There is also a cross-country skiing league in Western Massachusetts with several schools in it. The MIAA sponsors a Massachusetts High School Nordic Skiing State Championship held each year in mid-February that includes both Eastern and Western Mass high-school racers. Only students who are on an MIAA high-school team may participate in the state championship. As with all other high-school races, the State Championship race is skate technique only.
Sponsored by NENSA, the U16 Championships competition is for skiers aged 14 and 15 (as of December 31st of the previous calendar year). Athletes must be members of NENSA. Each state (MA, NH, ME, VT, and NY) sends a team of 20 boys and 20 girls. Massachusetts selects its team using the combined times from its qualifier race plus several discretionary selections made by the coaches. The event is usually held the second weekend of March, and the location varies each year throughout New England. Skiers must miss a day of school (Friday) to attend this event. Cost is usually $325+ for the weekend (includes lodging, food, coaching, wax, and race entry, but not transportation). Financial aid is available for athletes that can demonstrate financial need.
Eastern High School Championships
Also sponsored by NENSA, the EHS event is usually held the third weekend in March. The location is different each year. Each state (MA, NH, VT, ME, and NY) sends a team of 24 boys and 24 girls. The only eligibility requirement is that the skier must be in high school (public or private). Massachusetts selects its team from its qualifier races. Some athletes who qualify elect not to attend so alternates are also selected to replace them. The event requires missing a day of school (Friday). Cost is usually about $325+ (includes lodging, food, coaching, wax, and race entry, but not transportation). Financial aid is available for athletes that can demonstrate financial need.
Eastern Cup races (Junior National Qualifiers (JNQs)
NENSA sanctions eight races during the season as Junior National Qualifiers (JNQs). Skiers score points in these races based on how far they are behind the winner as a percentage of the winners time. Using the best 3 or 4 races to create an average score, NENSA creates a ranking list. From this list NENSA selects the New England team to Junior Nationals. Junior Nationals are usually held the first or second week in March. The site of the JN competition moves around the country to a new location each year. The athletes miss at least a week of school. Cost is around $2500 when air travel is involved (includes transportation, food, lodging, wax, coaching, and race entry fees). Competition to make the New England JN team is very intense. New England skiers are the best in the country and the last qualifier on the NE team usually finishes in the top half at JN’s.
We encourage CSU Juniors to attend as many JNQs as possible. While very few CSU skiers ever qualify for JN’s, these races are excellent experience and expose our athletes to top competition and demonstrate just how fast it is possible to ski. However, these events can be intimidating and it is important for the young athlete to keep perspective on his or her performance. An athlete who finishes in the top five of a Mass Bay West high-school league race may finish 80th at a JNQ and be one of the last finishers.
These races require a great deal of commitment as they involve travel and often require overnight stays. CSU coaching staff is always on hand with the tent, waxing benches, and coaching advice. Skiers who have done these races have always been grateful for the experience when they get to the U16 and EHS championships.
Junior Nationals (JN’s)
Junior Nationals are the national championships for junior age (14 to 19) ski racers. They are organized by the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). See www.ussa.org for more details. Each year a different region of the country hosts the event. Some CSU juniors set their sights on making the New England JN team. Given the small number of spots and the fierce competition, this is a very difficult goal to achieve. Making the JN team is an important marker for college coaches in assessing the potential of high school athletes applying to colleges with ski teams.
2007: Chris Stock and Hilary Rich qualified for the JN team as the 3rd and 2nd fastest U16s in New England. Isaac Hoenig was first alternate as the 7th fastest U16.
2008: Hilary and Jackson Rich both qualified and Olga Golovkina was first alternate.
2009: Hilary Rich, Chris Stock, Isaac Hoenig, Olga Golovkina, Jackson Rich, Eli Hoenig, and Corey Stock all qualified for JN’s and Hannah Smith was 2nd alternate. Corey Stock won a National Championship in the 5K Classic race.
2010: Chris Stock, Jackson Rich, Eli Hoenig, Corey Stock, Hannah Smith, Hamish McEwen, and Cate Brams qualified. Corey Stock won 3 National titles.
2011: Olivia Meyerson, Zoe Snow, Chris Koziel, Ian Moore, Eli Hoenig, Corey Stock, Hannah Smith, Hamish McEwen, and Cate Brams qualified. Corey Stock won 2 National titles. Hamish McEwen won 1 National title. Corey, Hamish, Olivia, Zoe, and Cate were All-Americans (top 10).
2012: Olivia Meyerson, Zoe Snow, Max LaChance, Hadley Moreau, Nathan Moreau, Eli Hoenig, Corey Stock, Julia Kern, Charlotte Cole, Gavin McEwen, Rebecca Smith, and Cate Brams qualified. Corey won 3 National titles. Eli won 1 title. Julia won 2. Olivia, Zoe, Eli, Corey, Julia, Gavin were All-Americans.
Senior Nationals and World Junior Championships Qualifiers
Juniors are allowed to compete in the USSA Senior Nationals (but they must have a valid USSA license available from ussa.org). Finishing in the top 20 overall for Juniors at Senior Nationals automatically qualifies you for Junior Nationals. The top 5 or 6 Juniors qualify for the the U.S. World Junior Championship Team. The top 6 U18 skiers who do not make the WJC team qualify for the J1 Scandinavian Trip. The location of Senior Nationals rotates around the country. It is usually held during the first week of January. In 2012 Corey Stock finished 4th in the skate sprint in Rumford.
U18 Scando Cup Trip
There are other opportunities for talented junior skiers. Each year the USSA takes a few talented U18 to Scandinavia for series of races with top Scandinavian and European juniors. To qualify for this team you must compete at the USSA Senior Nationals held in the first week in January. CSU Junior, Geoff Atkinson, made this team in 1999. In 2009 Hilary Rich qualified for this trip and had outstanding results in Norway. In 2012 Eli Hoenig and Julia Kern both made the team. Both had outstanding results in Estonia.
World Junior Championships
USSA sends a team each year to the World Junior Championships. This is essentially Olympic level competition for those under age 20. To qualify for this team you must compete at the USSA Senior Nationals held in the first week in January. In 2012 Corey Stock was the top qualifier for this trip and in two races was the top American competing in Erzurum, Turkey.