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Bates leads Team New England to win

Fifteen-year-old Calvin Bates of Dublin helped Team New England reclaim the national cup at the Nordic Junior Nationals held in Stowe, Vt. last week.

Nordic Junior Nationals are a week-long event packed with races, four of which Bates competed in.

Bates’ first race was the 5-kilometer classic, where he placed 21st. Two days later, he followed that performance up by taking 32nd in the classic sprint.

Bates’ strongest event, the 5-kilometer skate, was the third event he competed in, placing 11th. The final event that Bates participated in was a three-person skate relay. In the relay, each member of a team skis three kilometers, Bates’ team finished fourth overall.

In order to compete at Junior Nationals, a skier must be top six in his or her age group in the region; for Bates, that meant the U16 New England group. Each region brings 21 skiers to nationals.

At nationals, the top 20 finishers earn points for the region’s team. These points go toward the regions final tally, with the highest tally at the end of the week awarded the national cup.

Heading into this year’s event, Team New England had been dethroned, losing the cup to Alaska after a four-year reign.

“Skiing for Team New England is a big motivator. [The team] went in with our sights on regaining the cup,” said Bates.

New England took the cup back by racking up 1,512 points; the second-place team from the Midwest finished with 1,144.

Nordic skiing has been a part of Bates’ life for as long as he can remember.

“I know my parents would carry me around in their backpacks when they would go skiing before I could walk. As soon as I could walk, I was on skis,” Bates said.

Quickly falling in love with the sport, Bates began to race competitively in seventh grade.

“The community around cross country skiing is pretty incredible. Everyone is supportive, my best friends are the people that I am fighting for that qualifying place with,” said Bates.

Cross country skiing demands a lot of discipline and training in order to become successful, something that has not escaped Bates, despite his young age.

“Cross country skiing has a lot to do with technique. Technique lets you work less and go faster. The people with the good technique can use their energy more efficiently. That is the hardest thing to master and that is what I’ve been trying to master over the years.”

Next winter, Bates will move up to the U18 age division and will again compete for Team New England. Bates skis for the Dublin School Nordic team during the academic year.

Bates’ family is very supportive, “My biggest fans are my family. My younger sister, Lily (12), is pretty fast on skis,” said Bates.

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