PUTNEY, Vt. – While many of us were tuned in to Olympic competition in Pyeongchang, young cross country skiers from all over New England and New York headed down to Weston, Mass. for the Bill Koch League Nordic Ski Festival. The BKL is a youth ski league established in honor of Bill Koch, the first American to win an Olympic medal in cross country skiing, a silver in the 1976 Winter Olympics. Bill Koch, who grew up in Guilford, Vt. and skied for Putney School and the Putney Ski Club, continues to be an inspiration for local cross-country ski racers, and this winter the Putney Ski Club sent 12 skiers to the festival.
For several decades, the Putney Ski Club BKL was based out of the Grammar School, where cross-country skiing is a deeply rooted part of the culture. All students in kindergarten through 8th grade cross country ski during the week at school. In addition, the Grammar School has 10 students who participate in the after school Putney Ski Club BKL program. Three of those racers accompanied the club to the regional festival races this past weekend and contributed to four of the ten Putney Ski Club podiums.
Henry Sterner in 2nd grade and younger brother Charlie in kindergarten from Westminster, along with Putney Ski Club teammate Matt Northcott from Walpole, N.H., took 1st place in the grade 1-2 skate relay race. Sadie Bell of Putney in 6th grade and Putney Ski Club teammate Caroline Tarmy of Putney won the grade 5-6 girls skate relay. Sadie Bell also competed in an individual skate sprint on Saturday Feb. 17, where she took the bronze medal place. On Sunday, Feb. 18, the races continued with Henry Sterner coming in 1st in the 1-2 individual classic sprint, and Sadie Bell earning 2nd place in the 5-6 individual classic sprint.
The Putney Ski Club BKL racers are coached by TGS alumnus Zach Caldwell, 1984, and his wife Amy of Putney. The Grammar School is very proud of its Nordic skiing heritage and the accomplishments of these student athletes, and we all send heartfelt congratulations to United States women’s Nordic teammates Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall for winning Olympic gold in the team sprint on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
Article written by Sarah Sterner.