Nordic skiing: Team New Hampshire bests Vermont, wins Eastern High School Championships for first time in nearly three decades

Hopkinton's Matt Clarner competes in the N.H. Nordic Coaches Series skate race at White Mountains Regional High School on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. Clarner finished fifth to lead Hopkinton to second place as a team.

Hopkinton's Matt Clarner competes in the N.H. Nordic Coaches Series skate race at White Mountains Regional High School on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. Clarner finished fifth to lead Hopkinton to second place as a team.

The participants from the Concord Nordic ski team celebrate New Hampshire winning the Eastern High School Championships on March 17, 2024. From left to right: coach Sam Evans-Brown, Dean Ayotte, Chloe Gudas, Frances Lesser, coach Aubrey Nelson and coach Erin Waters.

The participants from the Concord Nordic ski team celebrate New Hampshire winning the Eastern High School Championships on March 17, 2024. From left to right: coach Sam Evans-Brown, Dean Ayotte, Chloe Gudas, Frances Lesser, coach Aubrey Nelson and coach Erin Waters. —Courtesy

Team New Hampshire celebrates its first Eastern High School Championships win in almost three decades at the Holderness School on March 17, 2024.

Team New Hampshire celebrates its first Eastern High School Championships win in almost three decades at the Holderness School on March 17, 2024. —Courtesy

Hopkinton's Elizabeth Trafton competing in the Eastern High School Championships held at the Holderness School from March 15-17, 2024.

Hopkinton's Elizabeth Trafton competing in the Eastern High School Championships held at the Holderness School from March 15-17, 2024. Josh Spaulding—Salmon Press

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 03-19-2024 10:23 AM

Modified: 03-19-2024 11:57 AM


For the first time since 1995, Team New Hampshire took home the Eastern High School Championships title at the Holderness School on Sunday. The Nordic skiing competition features up to the top 48 skiers (24 boys and 24 girls) from each of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York.

“This is a pretty big thing for them,” said New Hampshire team leader Kevin Lee, who’s also the coach of the Kearsarge Regional High School Nordic team. “It’s a huge victory for them to be able to hold up and say, ‘Hey, we won it.’ There’s really great skiing that goes on, but a lot of times the battle is for second place.”

New Hampshire, with its 31,821 points, narrowly edged out Vermont, which finished with 31,222.

“It’s quite an accomplishment to be able to beat Vermont,” Lee said. “They have a lot of really strong skiers. That’s why it was such a big victory for us.”

Vermont’s long-term dominance in this championship stems from the fact that it has more ski academies and club programs than New Hampshire, which is more reliant on skiers from public schools, Lee explained. As a result, New Hampshire often has far less depth than its rival to the west.

But this year — and looking ahead to the future — that appears to be shifting.

“The depth has just grown,” Lee said. “It used to fall off pretty precipitously after you get below the 20th-ranked kid, and now we can pull up kids that are 35 in the ranking, and we don’t have a huge fall off as far as their ability. That’s really, really nice to see.

“I think it speaks to the quality of the coaching that we have in our state right now, the development that we do with our kids. I think more kids, they’re skiing at the middle school level in different places than we have in the past. I really think that has to do with the quality of the coaching that we have in the state. We have some really, really fine coaches all around the state that are making strides in how our kids are skiing.”

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Ollie Hanna (Lebanon), Elli Englund (Plymouth), Ella Ronci (Plymouth) and Addi Englund (Plymouth) finished in the top four spots respectively in overall individual scoring on the girls’ side. Meanwhile, Oliver Wilson (Dublin) and Matthew Clarner (Hopkinton) finished first and third, respectively, in overall individual scoring on the boys’ side.

Ronci won the girls’ 5K skate race, Elli Englund won the 7.5K classic mass start and Hanna won the 1.2K sprint race that includes obstacles and jumps. Wilson won the boys’ 5K skate race and the 1.2K sprint race.

Other Concord area participants included Dean Ayotte, Chloe Gudas and Frances Lesser from Concord; Joseph O’Rourke, Elizabeth Trafton and Florence Dapice from Hopkinton; Eli Wilkening from Bow; and Elias Baer from Kearsarge.