There’s not a whole lot of mystery to why Nordic skiing has a long history in Vermont. Physically, the landscape is a perfect mesh of old forests, mountains, hollows, and fields. Culturally, there’s the just off-the-center attitude, the embrace of the pastoral, and the historical threads of a state and sport becoming joined over time. Start with some of the oldest ski areas in North America, add in Marty Hall, Bill Koch, Martha Rockwell, Andy Newell, and many, many generations of Caldwells, and the portrait of a state as defined by its place and its people has come to be decidedly Nordic. Vermont – Ben and Jerrys, Phish, and Cross Country Skiing. That’s just how it is.

Between the Bill Koch league clubs, and proud Pro Team traditions found up-and-down the state, including Stratton Mountain School (SMST2) and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (Craftsbury), it’s not hard to find skiers in the state training towards big dreams in the sport in whatever notch or gap you find yourself over. But if you really want to observe the full extent of how Vermont celebrates its skiing tradition, it may surprise you to know you’re best to head there’s no snow on the ground at all. In the winters, the US Ski Team members that call the state home are off around the world training, and the pro, collegiate, and junior skiers busy racing wherever the sport takes them in the country – be it Maine or Midway, Utah. If you want to gain a full appreciation for the disparate factions of the ski community coming together to revel in the sport in the state, you’ll have to brave the heat, humidity, and horse flies – and come in July.

Case in point, this week in the Green Mountain State. Last weekend, tucked away in the Northeast Kingdom in Craftsbury, the Regional Development Group (RDG) – the New England Nordic Ski Association’s (NENSA) expansion of US Ski and Snowboard’s Regional Elite Group (REG) model to a greater number of top junior skiers in the region, took place. Meanwhile, members of the US Ski Team from across the country convened in the southern end of the state in Stratton, where they met up with their teammates who are also members of SMST2 for a mid-summer camp. Add in a visiting contingent of Central Division pro skiers from Team Birkie, and the USSS U16 Eastern Regional camp, and up and down the Green Mountains, skiers from all levels of development, and of all ages, have taken to bounding up and down the forest-roads and farm-paths, and skiing the quiet country roads that Vermont has to offer.

That included a rollerski time trial up the legendary Appalachian Gap (the App Gap) from the base area of Mad River Glen that saw U16 skiers with Olympic aspirations compete in the same field with three-time Olympic medalist Jessie Diggins. In fact, between all the elite skiers gathered, it’s the U16 skiers who might have taken on the toughest challenge around Mad River Glen. Tomorrow, they’ll meet up with Green Mountain Valley School’s own camp for an uphill running time trial on the resort.

With all of the skiers involved taking on the challenges of summer training with each other, over gaps and up mountains, then there’s another thing to call this week in our East; a celebration. Of the sport of cross country skiing, those who do it, and where the collaborative spirit and will of those involved in the sport’s development over many years have taken it in the United States. And true to form throughout that history, that’s taken place with small steps and large bounds through the Green-covered hillsides of a little state where dreams in skiing are allowed to grow big.

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