Race Report: NENSA Zak Cup – Gunstock January Thaw Skate Race
Master skiers Sam Evans-Brown and Kathy Maddock take the overall titles at the second Zak Cup race of the season.
Gilford, NH – January 7, 2018 – Gunstock Nordic Association – The second event of the NENSA Zak Cup race series was held on Sunday at Gunstock Nordic. Skiers were greeted by arctic cold and soft new snow which made a challenging course even more difficult. 64 skiers braved the sub-zero temperatures, from seasoned masters to standout U23 and U20 skiers who were home on break from school.
This year’s race featured the resurgence of a well-known master skier, Sam Evans-Brown (of NHPR’s Outside/In), who had the upper hand over some very talented U23 and U20 skiers. Evans-Brown (M1 category) of Concord Nordic came away with a 36-second victory over GNA standout and U20 skier John Henry Paluszek by 36 seconds. Paluszek, who was fresh off a podium at the Font Kent Eastern Cup, was hoping his good form would help him best Evans-Brown (one of John Henry’s mentors and a former GNA coach). Yes, Sam coached John Henry when he was a middle school skier! Andrew Doherty of North Conway rounded out the men’s podium with a strong third place finishing.
In the women’s race, another coach and New England legend, Kathy Maddock (M5 category) of Dublin XC, showed the younger skiers how to float over soft cold snow with a 22-second win. Alex Jospe of Cambridge Sports Union took second, while Lillian Bates of Dublin XC, who is currently coached by Kathy, followed in 7 seconds adrift for third.
The course was a 4.5 kilometer loop that included the popular Cobble Trail which starts with a long, gradual uphill followed by fast flats and ending on a sharp and fast HARD right turn—a turn that in 2017 featured some epic crashes. This year’s new snow and slower conditions nullified that obstacle. The new snow, however, made the following climb, which peaks out at 15%, particularly odious—especially on the last lap. The rest of the course alternated between rolling and challenging terrain with fun, twisting corners—typical of the John Morton trail networks that are well known throughout the New England race scene. The men skied 3 laps (13.5k) and the women skied two (9k).
While the NENSA Zak Cup is a master’s race series, top skiers of all ages from around the region showed up and helped this race live up to its reputation of being fast. Of note was the 6th place finish of Catherine Stow (U16). Stow is a 15-year-old skier from GNA who was only 3 minutes and 45 seconds off the pace of the day’s winning time. We’ll be following Catherine’s results at the weekend’s Eastern Cup in Rikert, VT.
Kudos to Gunstock Resort for providing a perfectly groomed ski track and a huge thank you to Nina Gavrylyuk and her crew of GNA volunteers for setting up such an excellent course and fun event.
John Henry Paluszek on Lap 2
Kathy Maddock and Catherine Stow ready to start
Catherine Stow approaches the finish
Mark Young, Colby Skier and GNA Alumnus. Of note: Mark broke a pole on lap 1 and still finished 9th on the day.
A gallery of the race is available on our Facebook page »