Dispatch from the field: Dion Snowshoe Championships

Prospect Mountain, Woodbury, VT

— From February 28 to March 2, the slopes and woods of Prospect Mountain, a previously closed ski area turned-Nordic ski center, became host to over 400 competitors, as well as families and spectators for the Dion Snowshoes 2014 US National Snowshoe Championships.

The national championships are held every year. Competitors who qualified in earlier races in the season came from points as close as Bennington, VT, which acted as a host community for the race, to as far away as Italy, Canada, Australia, Sweden and Great Britain. Competitors also varied in age. The youngest was eight years old – the oldest was 85.

The weekend featured a series of races; junior men’s and women’s 5k and a senior 10k divisions for men and women on Saturday. The courses were, designed, marked and maintained by local resident and cross country ski coach Tim Van Orden, who was able to feature 4k of climbing and 4k of descent. The courses extended across the front face of Prospect Mountain on and off the trails in snow conditions ranging from flat and firm packed trails to shin-deep powder with a crusty surface.

Mitchell Ryan, 18, from Plattsburgh, NY took first in the boys 5k race, followed by Carter Stripp of Williamstown, Mass. and Zach Marshal from Hinesburg, VT. For the 18-year old Ryan, who competes on the cross-country and track teams at SUNY Cortland, the national championship was only his third race on snowshoes. The top finishing girls for the event were Jeannete Cudney from Cazenovia, NY; Rachel Jones from Fairpoint, NY; and Chloe Mattilio, from Paul Smith’s College.

In the senior 10k championships, David Le Porho and Joel Bourgeois, both from Canada took first and second respectively for the men’s division with Eric Hartmark, from Duluth, Minn taking third. For the women’s division, Amber Ferreira from Concord, NH; Kristina Folcik, from Northwood, NH; and Ashley Krause from Easthampton, Mass placing first through third respectively.

The weekend concluded with team relays and hill-climb competition, with racers charging up 100 meters of deep loose snow for the coveted prize of Vermont pure maple syrup.

“The sport seems to grow every year,” Mark Ellmore, Director for the race said following the conclusion of the championships on Sunday afternoon. “And the experiences people have keep them coming back year after year. We completely smashed our previous record from last year.”

Our staff writer attended the two-day-long event and came back with some pictures.

Planning for next year’s race in Eau Claire, WI started the next day.

Evan Johnson

Evan Johnson is the staff writer for Vermont Sports Magazine. The native Vermonter enjoys steep and deep skiing and wandering all over the state by Subaru. Find him on Twitter at @evanisathome.