By Adam Terko
The following piece was written by Adam Terko, a longtime New England coach and currently Executive Director of Mansfield Nordic Club in northern Vermont. It describes the racing highlights and overall vibe at Cochran’s Nordic Cross, a ski-cross event held at Cochran’s Ski Area in early April. I should clarify that Adam wrote this piece soon after the race occurred; it sat on this end for far longer than it should have prior to publication, for reasons that are entirely my fault and in no way Adam’s. It provides a welcome, Vermont-based counterpart to my breathless reporting on the NordicX cross-country ski cross event in Anchorage held the following weekend. Here’s Adam:
Much like NordicX, Cochran’s Nordic Cross takes place on the eponymous ski hill in Richmond, Vermont. The groomers and volunteers on the hill spend the week shaping and creating awesome features, and on Sunday the entire ski area (lodge, trails, and parking lot alike) is a gigantic cross-country ski party.
The first event is a “short course” format on the lower slopes of the hill for young racers: this year’s field was contested by 43 skiers.
Next was the main event: racers began at the top of the slope, and in waves of five were sent down a course involving slaloms, jumps, banked turns, hay bales, a pond jump, and numerous small sections of climbing and traversing to make use of practically the whole ski area. Costumes were plentiful, and racers ranged from college athletes fresh off the NCAA championships, club skiers fresh off the NENSA circuit, high school skiers fresh off the state meet, and even an Olympian named Ben Ogden.
After all the waves had finished, the top eight men and top eight women each raced once more in a final bid for glory. In the men’s final, most eyes were on pre-race favorite Ben Ogden (University of Vermont, U.S. Ski Team) who posted an initial first heat time a whopping 16 seconds ahead of second-place Asa Chalmers of Dartmouth. However, after airing it out from the lead on an early booter, Ogden experienced a catastrophic boot failure as his sole was ripped clean off, pin still in the binding of his ski sliding down the mountain. Ogden is marked in the results as DNF.
Ahead of him, Chalmers steadily built a lead on each new technical portion of the course, holding off two hard-charging FIS World University Games gold medalists in Bjorn Westervelt (UVM, U.S. Biathlon Association) and John Steel Hagenbuch (Dartmouth, U.S. Ski Team). Chalmers took the win in 6:36.8, with Westervelt second in 6:42 and Steel Hagenbuch third in 6:48.
The women’s final came down to a battle with more Ogden family members in play. Sisters Charlotte (Middlebury) and Katharine (Ford Sayre, formerly Dartmouth and USST) settled the sibling rivalry with a sprint to the finish only decided by a few seconds’ margin. It was ultimately Charlotte Ogden first in 7:58.7, KO second in 8:01.5. Close behind was Jasmine Drolet of Dartmouth in 8:17.2.
At the bottom of the course, pancakes for all were flipped nonstop on a large outdoor grill, with syrup flowing courtesy of Slopeside Syrup (the Cochran family sugaring establishment boiling just adjacent to the lodge). This year the pancakes were supplemented by Ben Ogden and friends cooking up kabobs on a pickup truck with a bed converted into a grill.
Ankle chips from Bullitt Timing ensured accurate results, even if some falls certainly took competitors off the course itself at points. There was even a speed-trap to check the fastest boards out there, although live timing results for this unfortunately seem to no longer be available.
For a number of years this event has been a highlight to the post-season nordic scene for many, and this year was no exception.
Video: a first-person video of the course (filmed by MNC athlete Taylor Carlson) can be viewed here:
— Adam Terko