Gordon schools youngsters in Nordic sprint | SierraSun.com

Gordon schools youngsters in Nordic sprint

Mark Nadell/Provided to the SunA group of girls compete in the Junior Olympic Qualifier event at Auburn Ski Club on Sunday.

Sprinting has always been considered a “young person’s” sport in the annals of cross country ski racing, as those youngsters with fast-twitch muscles and quick technique turnover tend to be the ones most capable of posting the fastest times around the short, 1-kilometer sprint course.

In the case of the women’s race at Auburn Ski Club on Sunday, this axiom held particularly true. A Junior Olympic Qualifier event for the Far West Nordic team (the second of four in the series), this race held a particular attraction to those in the 14- to 18-year-old age group, and more than 70 racers participated in this year’s competition.

In showing that she is still the top sprinter in the region, and one of the top young sprint specialists in the country, Truckee’s Bernie Nelson left her mark on this competition both in the preliminary time-trial portion and in the head-to-head heats.

Following up her top time of 2 minutes and 40.6 seconds in the prelims, Nelson moved on through the various six-person races until the final round, where she led from the start and took the overall championship, defeating second-place Sophie Aaron of Truckee and bronze medalist Joanne Reid of Palo Alto.

In the men’s division, however, it was a different story.

It’s difficult to consider a 30-year-old racer an “oldie,” but Truckee’s Elyah Gordon showed that, when it comes to the combination of classic technique and sprinting, he’s the one to beat. Burning the track up from the start in the prelims, Gordon managed to post a very quick time of 2 minutes and 17.8 seconds on this blustery, cool day ” one that had coaches and athletes scrambling at the start trying to find just the right combination of klister and hard wax to apply to the ski bases for grip.

Then, moving on through the heats, Gordon ” one of the coaches for both Far West Nordic and Auburn Ski Club ” powered his way to victory in the finals over Truckee junior Russell Kennedy and 22-year-old Martin Benes of Soda Springs, also a coach for the division.

Next week features the first Tahoe Rim Tour and Race, a new and unique event traversing the trails of Tahoe Cross Country over to Northstar XC Resort. A benefit for the Far West Nordic Junior Teams, this race promises to become one of the top Sierra classics in appeal to both top competitors and ski tourers alike. For more information, go to http://www.farwestnordic.org or call 587-0304.

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