Kennedy, Taylor race to Nordic wins
Special to the Sun
Brian Kehoe, coach of the Alder Creek Middle School Nordic Team, summed up the season best with the statement, “Be careful what you wish for, cause you might just get it.” And in this snow-filled racing season, all the snow dances, plaintive pleas to the “snow gods” and other special requests made in the fall have come back to vex what has become one of the best seasons of Nordic skiing in recent memory.
Only one week after serious winter storm warnings forced many of the Northern schools to avoid the drive down Highway 395 to Mammoth for the CNISSF Classic race, the Southern schools ” Mammoth and Bishop ” were forced to “return the favor” and were thwarted from traveling north for the CNISSF North Tahoe Pursuit Race this past Friday.
And in an additional piece of irony, this same race was canceled last year because of a lack of snow at the venue on the trails of Tahoe Cross Country.
But those who did succeed in making the trek to North Lake Tahoe were treated to some of the finest race conditions imaginable, especially perfect for the unique aspects of the Pursuit race format, which combines a Classic technique competition immediately (and continuously) followed by a Freestyle (Skate) technique race.
Designed to find the best overall racer of the two genres of cross country ski racing,
the Pursuit gives spectators a great glimpse of high-level school league racing.
The Girls Varsity division is shaping up to be a great competition for some fast young racers.
With Mammoth High ” and consequently, one of the league’s top skiers, Dayna Stimson ” not able to attend because of the above-mentioned road closures, it was a Truckee-dominated race from the start, with Bernie Nelson leading out Annika Taylor and Sophie Aaron on the classic course.
Jockeying for position on the first part of the race, the three raced down to the Tahoe Cross Country ski center in preparation for the major climb of the first leg. It was there that Taylor, a freshman, finally separated herself from the others, building up a lead coming into the transition zone as they switched from Classic gear to Skate skis and poles and continued on for the next 4 kilometers.
Taylor then continued to build her lead until coming across the finish line comfortably in front with a time of 22 minutes and 50 seconds, finishing with a comfortable 30 second margin over the hard-charging Nelson (23:20) in second place. Aaron (23:46) checked in another 25 seconds behind, followed by two more Truckee finishers, Kelsey Dion and Angela Raso, completing a THS top-five.
In the Open Girls division, North Tahoe freshman Michelle Cahill posted an extremely impressive win over Truckee’s Annika Deurlington, finishing with a time of 27 minutes and 53 seconds. Truckee’s Lauryl Rudolph finished third.
In the Boys Varsity race, it was Russell Kennedy of Truckee once again dominating the field, leading from start to finish for another impressive win on the season, finishing with a time of 21 minutes and 1 second.
This race was highlighted by the return of Truckee High’s Daniel Gelso (21:35), a pre-season favorite who returned from illness to post another second-place finish in a tough Varsity field.
Miles Heapes of Tahoe City took the third spot with a time of 21:44, with North Tahoe’s Tom McElravey and Truckee’s Justin Ondry rounding out the top-5.
In the Open Boys race, Austin Meng (23:46) once again proved he is the freshman to beat, winning by a large margin over South Tahoe’s David Wise and Max Hoffman of North Tahoe.
In the Middle School Girls division, there was a new leader emerging, with Alder Creek Middle School’s Sarah Williams turning a close initial race into a clear rout, cruising across the finish line in 16 minutes and 28 seconds, a full 34 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, teammate Olivia Duner (17:02). Emily Nall of North Tahoe took third in a time of 17:18.
For the Middle School Boys, it was Jordan McElroy completing an Alder Creek sweep of the top spots, skiing strongly away from his competitors on the long, rolling course and finishing with a time of 13 minutes and 35 seconds, comfortably ahead of his nearest competition. The race of the day belonged to Alder Creek’s Alex Kopytko and North Tahoe’s Patrick McElravey, who dueled spectacularly to the finish line in an all-out sprint for second, with Kopytko taking the photo finish over McElravey (13:51).
For full results and schedules, check out http://www.farwestnordic.org.
The Kirkwood Cross Country, a 5-kilometer Classic event on the challenging Schneider Camp trails near Carson Pass, will be held on Friday.