Saturday March 7 — CHITTENDEN — The Mountain Top Inn & Resort is gearing up for one of New England’s largest youth Cross Country Skiing Events. An estimated 600 participants, plus 600-700 family members and spectators and 80 volunteers per day will descend upon the resort for the NEBKL Festival e on March 7 and 8, with a welcome dinner at The Mountain Top Inn & Resort on Friday, March 6. Participants in the event are from ski clubs all over New England, plus individuals, and this year the event will host clubs from Washington State and Canada as well.
These Cross Country Ski participants are children from pre-Kindergarten through the eighth grade. The festival, organized annually by NENSA (New England Nordic Ski Association), and named for native Vermonter and Olympic medalist Bill Koch, serves as the annual ‘graduation’ celebration for eighth graders in the Bill Koch League.
Mr. Koch, who is credited with pioneering the skate-ski XC technique, will be in attendance at the event. Mr. Koch will participate in many of the festival’s activities, including the graduation ceremony and ‘Mike’s Mini-Marathon’. The marathon, named in honor of Mr. Koch’s Olympic coach Mike Gallagher, will take place on Saturday, March 7. Mr. Gallagher, a five-time Olympian Nordic ski icon, who was lovingly referred to as “The Eagle,” passed away in 2013. Mr. Gallagher, also a native Vermonter, served as Nordic Director at The Mountain Top Inn & Resort. “We are especially proud to host this years’ event because of the deep personal connections with our Resort’ said Khele Sparks, General Manager at The Mountain Top Inn & Resort. In tribute to Mr. Gallagher, in addition to the Mini-Marathon in his name, festival organizers included an eagle in the 2015 NEBKL event logo.
The 2015 theme is “Spirit of Winter.” Participants will celebrate “all things winter” with activities such as xc ski racing, a paintball biathlon, Mike’s Mini-Marathon, snow sculpting, ice cream on snow, sledding, tubing, ice skating, a terrain park and more executed throughout the weekend. The culmination of the event is the eighth grade graduation and “ski down” parade along with a lollipop race for the younger participants.
For more information, call 802-463-2311 or visit www.nensa.net.