EMXC athletes compete in many types of races throughout the regular season. These fall in four main "categories" of races, with each category acting as a qualification method for a corresponding "championship" event. A more detailed description of each type of race can be found below the flow chart, and a schedule of these races can be found on the calendar page.
High School League Races (Regular Season)
EMXC athletes who are also members of their high school ski teams may compete in league races. Massachusetts public high school racing is governed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), the same governing body as other varsity sports at the high school level. For skiing, MIAA divides Eastern Massachusetts teams into Mass Bay East and Mass Bay West. Each league races once per week, either Tuesday or Wednesday, during January and February. League races culminate in the Massachusetts State Championship. EMXC athletes who race in either Mass Bay East or West race for their high school teams, not EMXC, and EMXC does not provide race support (wax, etc) at these races.
- Massachusetts State Championship (Championship Event)
Held every year in mid-February, and run by the MIAA. Brings together top league racers from across the state to name a high school skiing state champion. Only skiers who are on a MIAA high school team can compete. EMXC athletes who at the state championship race for their high school teams, not EMXC, and EMXC does not provide race support (wax, etc) at this race.
Mass Nordic Qualifier (Regular Season)
These two races happen in one day: 4km classic and 4km skate, usually near the end of January or early February. Results from these races are used to name the Massachusetts teams for U16 and Eastern High School Championships. EMXC strongly encourages all Juniors skiers to attend the Mass Nordic Qualifier.
For U16 Championships, the top 20-24 U16 skiers in each gender category (M/F) qualify to represent MA.
For EHS Championships, the top 24 skiers currently in grades 9 - 12 in each gender category (M/F) qualify to represent MA.
Athletes who qualify for both U16 and EHS Championships can compete at both events.
- U16 Championships (Championship Event)
The U16 Championships is for skiers aged 14 and 15 (as of December 31st). Each state (MA, NH, ME, VT) sends a team to compete on behalf of their state. The event is usually held the second weekend of March, at a location within New England. Skiers compete in four races over three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and therefore must miss a day of school (Friday) to attend this event. Athletes at this race stay with the Massachusetts Team, and race for Massachusetts. Cost for the weekend usually ranges from $400 - $500 dollars (includes lodging, food, coaching, wax, and race entry, but not transportation), although scholarships are available.
- Eastern High School Championships (Championship Event)
EHS is open to current high school students (grades 9 - 12), and is usually held the third weekend in March at a location within New England. Each state (MA, NH, VT, ME, NY) sends 24 skiers to compete in each gender category; for MA, these skiers are selected at the state qualifier race. Some athletes who qualify elect not to attend so alternates are also named to replace them. Skiers compete in four races over three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and therefore must miss a day of school (Friday) to attend this event. Athletes at this race stay with the Massachusetts Team, and race for Massachusetts. Cost for the weekend usually ranges from $400 - $500 dollars (includes lodging, food, coaching, wax, and race entry, but not transportation), although scholarships are available.
Eastern Cup (Regular Season)
New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) sanctions 8 races over the course of the season to form the "Eastern Cup" circuit. These races occur over four weekends, throughout New England, and are also used to determine the team that will represent New England at Junior National Championships in March. New for the 2022-23 season, each race weekend will also result in the naming of a junior team champion for each age/gender race category (i.e. U18 M).
Eastern Cup racing represents the highest level of junior racing available in the northeast, and EMXC Juniors encourages athletes to attend at least one Eastern Cup race weekend for the race experience alone - ideally the final Eastern Cup, in Dublin, NH. EMXC athletes who hope to qualify for Junior Nationals ought to attend all four weekends. Unlike other races, attending Eastern Cups does require longer travel and, oftentimes, overnight stays.
For athletes new to EMXC, it is important to remember that Eastern Cup races attract skiers from all of New England. While athletes who are strong skiers in Massachusetts might place in the 70s or 80s at an Eastern Cup, these results represent a strong finish among all five New England States. Remember - it's much easier to climb a mountain if you know where the summit lies!
Eastern Cup races are run by NENSA. Race rules can be found here.
- Junior Nationals (Championship Event)
Junior Nationals are skiing's National Championship for ages 14 to 19. These races are organized by US Ski & Snowboard (USSA) and are usually held in the 1st or 2nd week of March.
Qualification for the JN team occurs via Eastern Cup final ranking: top 6 for U16s, or a top 15 for combined U18/U20s. Specifics of the qualification process and numbers can be found on NENSA's website. Historically, EMXC sends somewhere between five and ten skiers total to JNs each year.
US "Senior" Nationals (Regular Season)
Held each January, USSA National Championships are used to name a Senior National Champion, and, for Juniors, to qualify for international races with the US Ski Team. These races include U18 Scandinavia Trip and World Junior Championships. Most EMXC Juniors do not attend Senior Nationals, as it requires missing a week of school, and missing EMXC's MSA training camp.
- U18 Scandinavia Trip / World Junior Championships (Championship Event)
These races generally occur in Europe or Asia. The U18 Trip takes the top six American U18s from US Nationals to compete at the Scandinavian U18 Championship races. World Junior Championships take the top American juniors (anyone younger than 20) to compete against the best juniors in the world. This is, essentially, an Olympic-level contest for athletes under 20.
Other Race Opportunities (Regular Season)
In addition to these four categories of races, EMXC athletes can supplement their race season with other complementary races. These include:
- NENSA Zak / Club Races: Races that are organized independently throughout New England, but that are endorsed by NENSA as part of the Zak & Club Cups. No USSA points are scored, but can score “Club Cup Points” for EMXC. We compete in these races occasionally in order to get more race starts, have fun, and practice going fast. https://nensa.net/popular/ (E.g. Race for Snow, Quarry Rd Opener, Bogburn, etc.)
EMXC-only races at WST: During the first year of COVID, we did a few races at WST with the EMBK athletes. We are hoping to do at least one similar races - ideally a relay - at LJM this year. These are “closed” races -- they’re only open to EMXC athletes.
Age Groups & Race Starts
Racers at USSA races are divided into age groups by birth year, with pairs of years bracketed into each category. EMXC Juniors athletes are all in either the U16 (age 14-15), U18 (age 16-17), or U20 (age 18-19) age group, depending on their birth year. For the 2022-23 season, the age group breakdown is:
U16: YOB 2007 & 2008
U18: YOB 2005 & 2006
U20: YOB 2003 & 2004
Just as EMXC's training recommendations varies based on athlete age, the recommended number of races an athlete should compete in also varies. The Juniors program assumes that athletes new to the program in their first year as a U16 will have had some racing experience, usually between 6 and 12 race starts in their prior season. With this in mind, athletes will gradually scale up their total races per year. Athletes can use the chart below to get a sense of how many races they should be targeting each year, as well as common examples of races they might attend.
Planning the Race Season
With all this in mind, it can be daunting for athletes to try and determine which races to should attend. It might be difficult to know which races are most appropriate, and how to make informed decisions with so many opportunities available. We'd suggest that Juniors athletes start with the following process:
- Plan to race the MA State Qualifier on 1/29. These two races are required to qualify for EHS and U16 Championships.
- Look at the “Race Starts By Age” table to figure out approximately how many races you should do this year.
- Think about your goals for the year. If your goals are primarily based around EHS or U16 Championships, you should plan to attend races that will prepare you well for those. This might mean focusing on high school league races in January, and then competing in one or two Eastern Cup weekends in February. If your goals are primarily based around qualifying for JNs, you might choose to race all the Eastern Cup weekends, and prioritize recovery for those races over competition in high school league races.
- Before you make any final decisions, talk to your point coach. Discuss the outline you've come up with, and see if they have any suggestions. If they do have suggestions, listen to them!
- Once you have talked to your point coach, fill out the signup sheet in the training plan with all of the races that you plan on attending. If you change your mind, you should change your signups. This helps the coaches track which races you will be at, and helps the wax team know how many skis they will need to wax!