Top dogs of Nordic preps | SierraSun.com

Top dogs of Nordic preps

Mark Nadell
Special to the Sun

Senior Spencer Wood expects to step up in place of 2006 graduate Matt Gelso as the No. 1 racer for the Truckee High boys Nordic team this season.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series previewing the Truckee and North Tahoe high school Nordic ski teams. Thursday’s article, “Reloading on talent,” took an overview look at the local squads and provided an outlook for the 2007 CNISSF season. Today will focus on the top Truckee and North Tahoe skiers to keep an eye on in 2007.

The CNISSF Nordic season begins today with the Auburn Ski Club Relays atop Donner Summit, with the middle school teams starting at 10:30 a.m. and the high school skiers taking over the trails at noon.

The season resumes next week with the first individual competition, the classic technique race at Mammoth Lakes.

And for sheer excitement, make sure to check out the Truckee Sprints on Jan. 26 at Truckee High’s Surprise Stadium.

But first, know which skiers are likely to make the most impact in 2007 on their respective Nordic teams.

Spencer Wood, Truckee senior:

Recommended Stories For You

Even though Wood was the overall points leader in 2006, the task of being the team’s leader was generally thought to be held by Matt Gelso, who, because of his commitments to national-caliber ski racing, did not compete in enough local races to defend his 2005 title. But with talented skiers Tyler Wright, Alex Taylor and Colin Shane lost to graduation, Truckee is now Wood’s team to lead. And if recent results on the local Nordic circuit are any indication, Wood is more than up to the task, with two impressive results in races at Auburn Ski Club last month. A veteran of three Junior Olympic competitions ” he was seventh in the nation in the freestyle competition in Houghton, Mich., last March ” Wood is taking his leadership role seriously.

Bernie Nelson, Truckee sophomore:

Even though she is two years younger than Wood, last year’s CNISSF individual points leader is also a veteran of the last three Junior Olympics, with two bronze medals from last year’s JO’s to prove her national standings. This week, she is one of three juniors from the Far West to be competing at the Senior National Cross Country Ski Championships in Houghton, with hopes of being chosen for the U.S. Ski Team’s Scandinavian Cup trip later in January. Like Wood, Nelson has been training vigorously all summer and fall in the hopes of achieving her lofty Nordic goals.

Tom McElravey, North Tahoe sophomore:

On the junior varsity circuit last year, McElravey earned the honor of boys state champion by taking second place overall in the league points competition. He, too, has been training hard all summer and fall, and looks poised to take over the team leadership role for the Laker squad.

Winston Krauss, North Tahoe senior:

Krauss is another veteran of a couple Junior Olympics and is a good bet to challenge McElravey for the top spot on the North Tahoe team.

Daniel Gelso, Truckee sophomore:

No longer in the shadow of his brother Matt, this is Daniel Gelso’s time to shine on the local circuit. He already has proven he has the speed to compete this year, with the top junior finishes in both the Sprint Competition at Auburn Ski Club and a win in the 5-kilometer distance at this past weekend’s JO Qualifier, the Snowshoe Thompson Classic. Finally out of the swimming pool and onto the tracks this fall, Gelso is not far away from challenging for the top spot in the league. With an unequaled “motor,” he just needs a little more time on snow and technique improvements to be one of the top skiers in the nation.

Danielle Griffo, North Tahoe senior:

Although she has been competing at the high school level for years, this is Griffo’s first real foray into the Far West racing scene, with serious hopes of making this year’s Junior Olympic squad. An excellent adventure triathlete and biker, Griffo’s goal is to improve her skiing skills to make a mark on the local circuit.

Sage Clark, North Tahoe sophomore:

Clark, who has been a regular training teammate on the Auburn Ski Club Development Team for the past couple of summers, is looking to make her mark on the Nordic circuit as well as in Alpine racing this year.

Kelsey Dion, Truckee junior:

Dion has had a solid two years on Truckee’s varsity squad and is a veteran of the past two Junior Olympics for Far West. A true team leader, she was the sixth-place finisher in overall points last season and is looking to improve substantially on that mark. She also has been training non-stop since last season, showing marked improvement in both endurance and technique.

Additional talent:

Other top girl skiers include Truckee’s Lucy Ferneyhough, Angela Raso, Gina Krauss and Emily Stewart, as well as North Tahoe’s Morgan Paulson and Juliana Mills.

For the boys, senior Alex Ferneyhough of Truckee and North Tahoe’s Joey Griffo and Logan Greenwood are good bets to improve from last year’s varsity standings.

Former JV skiers Drew Deurlington and Stefan Benier, both Truckee High sophomores, are hot on their heels after a summer and fall of hard Nordic training.

“I’m just really excited about the team this year,” said North Tahoe High coach Elyah Gordon. “Our No. 1 goal is just getting as many kids out there enjoying themselves, but also working hard. We really try to integrate fun workouts with all of the hard work of Nordic skiing.”

While only freshmen, the following skiers are good bets to make their varsity squads based on their history of top finishes at the middle school level, along with some strong early-season results.

Russell Kennedy, Truckee freshman

Also the 2006 league champ at the Middle School level, Kennedy has already competed at the 2006 Junior Olympics ” in both the Nordic and Alpine disciplines. Now concentrating strictly on cross country skiing, Kennedy has huge potential to move up the ranks quickly in the Nordic world.

Miles Heapes, North Tahoe freshman

Consistently placing second to Kennedy last year on the Middle School circuit, Heapes has been training with the Auburn Ski Club Development team in the hopes of making that proverbial “step up” to national-caliber competition, with his sights on this year’s Junior Olympic team.

Sophie Aaron, Truckee freshman:

The 2006 Middle School league champion has the makings of the next great young skier for Truckee High.

Other top newcomers include North Tahoe’s Maiya Greenwood and Caitlin Cullen and Truckee’s Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld, Carson Lindsay and Alex Hamilton.