On Sunday, January 22, 2023, 98 skiers from pre-K to eighth grade traveled from throughout Vermont to attend the Mad River Scramble, a cross-country ski race at the Blueberry Lake Cross Country Ski Center. Fifteen clubs were represented in an event that embodied the spirit of the Bill Koch Ski League (BKL) and fell just after a significant snowfall. The event was organized by Mad River Nordic with the support of the Green Mountain Valley School Nordic team and inspired grooming by George Robinson and Jason Fowler.
Although there were smiles on over 300 faces throughout the day, Robinson perhaps had the biggest, as he reflected on how happy his father Lenord would have been to, “see all the kids skiing,” recalled organizer Justin Beckwith. Not only was there soft and fast snow – there was hardly a wisp of wind, which made the open field start/finish area ideal for spectating. Lollipop racers, through to fourth grade stayed within sight of the spectators in a three-fingered loop, many parents were zig-zagging between the trails cheering and supporting their skiers around the loop.
The fifth-sixth and seventh-eighth grade races ventured out on loops 2 and 3, where they were greeted by undulating terrain and some fun bridge crossings. Although the Bill Koch philosophy is based on having fun on skis, Vermont is arguably the home of the strongest development program in the United States. While the Scramble was an inclusive event that included several first-time skiers – a high level of skill and ability to glide on skinny skis was on full display.
Skiers started in waves by school year, between Cabot Cheese start blocks and finished between two Swix flags. Several clubs brought tents and lawn furniture and two fire pits allowed for warming hands and roasting marshmallows. Awards consisted of ribbons for the top-10 in each category and bags that included homemade chocolate cookies and M&M’s. The Lollipop skiers (pre-kindergarten) received lollipops as they crossed the line.
Full results are available on the New England Nordic Ski Association website under the results tab. Twenty-one Valley kids who are a part of Mad River BKL took part in the Scramble, many after a morning skiing the slopes of Mad River Glen and Sugarbush.
“A Valley kid can ski it all and it was so nice to share our terrain with many skiers who had never visited the Blueberry Lake trails,” Beckwith said.