PITTSFIELD -- Less than a week after taking the Berkshire County high school title, Eamon Connor was back at Bousquet Ski Area on Saturday.
This wasn't just another high school race, though. Racing in the Bay State Winter Games meant a slew of new faces and a ton of fun for Connor.
"Just meet new people, they're all from around Massachusetts," Connor said. "There's all different people. ... I feel like there's a lot more kids and a lot more better racers [this year]."
Connor finished his two giant slalom runs in 1 minute, 27.08 seconds to win the male 11th and 12th grade division. That was the best time among 89 racers that hailed from eastern Massachusetts to as far away as Brooklyn, N.Y. Racers had to have an affiliation with a Massachusetts ski area to qualify for Saturday's race.
The 89 racers was about 40 more than last year's event said Bay State Games executive director Kevin Cummings. Six Berkshire County racers won divisions, led by Connor. Richmond's Micaela Bartlett won the female middle school division while Pittsfield's Patricia Geller took the female masters. Courtney Donovan won the female open A for Pittsfield with Louise Brogan of Dalton winning the female open B class. Eric McCormack of Lenox was first in the male open B.
The Bay State Games have long brought together young and old, but this year racers came from far and wide, too. Eliza Phillips, competing out of Blandford Ski Area, came all the way from Brooklyn, finishing 8th
"I think it was fun because it was pretty laid back," Phillips said. "It's not as competitive and I like it. You don't have as much pressure as in the other races."
A New Yorker closer to the Berkshires, Berlin's Stephen Feathers took first in the male ninth and 10th grade division in 1:28.43. That was good enough to beat out his dad, Steve, who finished in 1:34.82.
"It's a good, fun race," the elder Steve Feathers said. "There's not a lot of pressure. ... I've been waiting for today. This is the first time he's ever beaten me and he smoked me."
It's those unique matchups that make the Games attractive. Feathers said even Tri-State racers from Eastern and Western Massachusetts don't see each other all that often outside of championship races.
Richmond's Jennifer Evans, who skis for Monument Mountain during the high school season, said she likes broader field Bousquet hosted on Saturday.
"Usually it's just the Tri-State people racing against each other and this year there's a lot of new people," Evans said. "It's fun to race against new people, not the same people all the time."
Like any other year, Saturday's race still came down to having fun. County girls champion Emma Peplowski was congregating with a circle of friends after her first run. She finished second in the female 11th and 12th grade division to Jenna Rothermel of Westfield.
"If you win you win, if you don't you don't," Peplowski said. "We all just come out here and have fun and compete in a different kind of atmosphere."