Nordic racing | Auburn Ski Club to host nation’s top juniors | SierraSun.com

Nordic racing | Auburn Ski Club to host nation’s top juniors

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com

Last week, crews at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center were scrounging for snow as Junior Nationals neared and their trails dwindled in the sun.

And then, Mother Nature came through in the clutch.

"With the extraordinarily low snowpack, we've been farming and moving snow around for weeks to secure a 2.5K loop no matter what," said Bill Clark, executive director at Auburn Ski Club.

"We stripped snow off all our other trails and stockpiled it and hauled it onto the trails that we're going to use; it's been quite a process. It was looking pretty bleak. But everything is white and pretty now."

The recent storm, which delivered about 2 feet of snow to Donner Summit, was indeed timely.

Starting this weekend, Auburn Ski Club will host more than 400 of the country's best Nordic skiers between the ages of 13 and 19 at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Cross Country Skiing Junior National Championships.

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The event will feature 10 USSA divisional teams and four competitions between the freestyle and classic disciplines. Competition begins Monday and concludes on Saturday, March 14, although athletes are already trickling into the region and training on the Auburn Ski Club trails.

The visiting crowds are also timely, providing a significant economic boost during an otherwise dry and challenging winter, Clark said.

"People are staying all over place — on the Summit, in Truckee, in Tahoe City — and they come in groups of 50 or more with all the coaches and everything," Clark said. "They rent a lot of houses and rooms, hire caterers and all that stuff. It really is [a boost to the economy]. It's especially nice in a year like this year to have some good news about a ski event."

This year marks the fourth Junior Nationals held at Auburn Ski Club, a top-notch training and racing venue that also hosted the event in 1971, 2005 and 2009. It took place in Stowe, Vt., last year.

The racing is spectator-friendly, with the start and finish areas located directly in front of Auburn Ski Club's lodge and a short walk from the parking lot — behind Boreal Mountain Resort. Fans line the finish area, shaking cowbells and cheering on their respective teams in what is a festive scene.

"You're going to see the next go-around of Olympians," said Clark, adding that 10 of the 16 U.S. athletes on this year's FIS World Championship team raced at Auburn Ski Club during the 2005 or 2009 Junior Nationals. Many of the athletes competing will go on to race at the collegiate level, including members of the local Far West Division.

"You'll be able to say, 'I saw that kid ski locally,'" Clark said.

Find more information about the event at xcjuniornationals2015.com.

Junior Nationals schedule

Saturday, March 7

Unofficial training day

Sunday, March 8

Official training day

Monday, March 9

Freestyle 1K, 1.5K Sprint — 12-2:45 p.m.

Tuesday, March 10

Freestyle training

Wednesday, March 11

Freestyle 5K, 10K — 9 a.m.-12:35 p.m.

Thursday, March 12

Training day

Friday, March 13

Classic 5K, 10K, 15K — 9-11:30 a.m.

Saturday, March 14

Relay races — 9 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

All races at Auburn Ski Club. Schedule is subject to change.