BETHEL -The New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) U16 Championships needs about 150 volunteers to help make the event a success. The competition will be held at the Bethel Village Trails (located at the Bethel Inn) and Gould Academy’s Pine Hill trail system March 8-10.

Volunteers will help with registration, course monitoring, timing, food and setting up and breaking down the event area. Project Manager of Bethel Village Trails Sarah Weafer said people can sign up online or contact her by email at [email protected]

Bethel Village Trails won a bid two years ago to hold the U16 Championships this year. They also held the event by default in 2016 because of the lack of snow in other areas.

The championships are NENSA’s premiere cross country ski event of the season for the fastest 14 and 15-year-olds in New England and the Midwest.

Two hundred and forty competitors will be competing.

The unique thing about the U16 championships is that each state takes the top 24 boys and the top 24 girls in the state and they combine to compete at states.

“For these kids who have been racing against each other all year as high school teams, they get to compete together as a team and it’s really a bonding experience for them,” Weafer said. “They travel together, they live together, they race together, it’s a really nice way to end the season.”

The girls’ freestyle race is that Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and the classic races begin Saturday morning race at 9:30 a.m. Both races will be at the Pine Hill trail system. Saturday afternoon, the freestyle sprints start at 2 p.m. at the Bethel Village Trails and the Sunday morning mixed relay is at 10 a.m. and will also be at Bethel Village Trails.

Team and state awards will be presented afterwards at 12 p.m. at Bethel Village Trails.

Along with the 240 athletes, there will be almost 50 coaches and many parents and other family members at the event.

Weafer said she expects the event will generate a lot of income for local businesses. When the Bill Koch Festival came to Bethel in 2017, it was determined that nearly $100,000 was spent in the area during the two-day festival.

“Giving that this is three days and just as many participants, we can look at least $100,000 spent in town,” Weafer said.

She hopes many people come and watch the skiers.

“I would love to encourage people to come out and cheer, even if they can’t volunteer,” she said.

Premiere local sponsors for the event are Gould, the Bethel Outing Club and the Bethel Inn. Community partners are Stephens Memorial Hospital, Crockett and Wright, P.C., Fred Bailey Trail Design, the Good Food Store, Akers Ski, Barker Mountain Bikes and Truth North Adventureware. The businesses are either contributing financially or with goods.

Weafer said she would like to also thank Beth McWilliams, Tim Whiton (McWilliams and Whiton are both with Gould Academy), Brad Jerome (Bethel Inn) and  several members of the Bethel Outing Club.

[email protected]

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