Sun shines down on Nordic race
Special to the Sun
It seems like ages ago, but in reality it’s been three weeks since all the CNISSF high school and middle school teams got together for a league race.
Since the Truckee Sprints in mid-January, there’s been one weather-related issue after another. But there were no weather problems at all at the Kirkwood Classic this past Friday ” unless one counts a sunburn as a “weather” problem.
But unlike the week before at North Tahoe, what is considered great weather can be a subjective discussion when it relates to waxing for difficult snow conditions.
And older snow, cold nights and a rapidly warming atmosphere on Friday led to quite a bit of scrambling by coaches and athletes alike to prepare their skis for the best combination of kick and glide around the Schneider Camp trails in the upper reaches of beautiful Kirkwood XC.
Because of the narrowness of the trails and the starting location, racers were sent off in “dual intervals,” two at a time every 15 seconds, making it difficult to ascertain a finish order during the race. And when only a single second separates the first- and second-place boys’ finisher, this can lead to some significant nail-biting as results are tallied.
Add to this the fact that this race was considered a make-up qualifier for Far West’s Junior Olympic team ” due to the cancellation of last weekend’s Allan Bard Classic in Mammoth ” and there was quite a bit of teenage angst filling the air.
Truckee High School showed a distinct dominance in the boys division, sweeping the top four varsity spots.
Truckee Junior Daniel Gelso showed that he’s almost all the way back from his earlier illness by posting a one-second win over teammate Russell Kennedy, finishing with a time of 14 minutes and 55 seconds around the 5-kilometer, rolling classic course. Coming in third was the hard-charging freshman, Justin Ondry (15:13), followed by teammate Stefan Benier (15:36).
Miles Heapes led the way for North Tahoe, finishing fifth.
In the open boys division, Austin Meng continued his run of success, leading the way for Truckee and finishing with a time of 16:56. Will Stimson of Mammoth High took second (17:36), with the third spot going to South Tahoe’s David Wise (18:37).
All of the aforementioned boys will be moving on to Far West’s Junior National team heading to Alaska in March.
In the girls varsity division, the competition was almost as close.
Dayna Stimson of Mammoth (16:36) found the best combination of skis and strength, managing a narrow six-second win over Truckee’s Bernie Nelson (16:42).
It was a day for third-place freshman in varsity, with Truckee’s Annika Taylor taking the bronze with a time of 16:59. Truckee girls went on to take the next three spots as well, led by fourth-place Sophie Aaron.
In the open girls division, Michelle Cahill of North Tahoe led the way for the second week in a row, besting Truckee’s Annika Deurlington once again, and finishing with a time of 20:02. Deurlington took the second spot in 20:14, and Truckee’s Rachell Nadell skied hard to take third place (20:52).
In the middle school boys division, Mammoth’s Alex Picken led the way, skiing the 3-kilometer course in a time of 13:48, a comfortable margin over last week’s winner, Alder Creek Middle School’s Jordan McElroy (14:05), and his teammate, Alex Kopytko (14:27). Patrick McElravey was North Tahoe’s highest finisher in fourth place.
For the girls, it was Laurel Fiddler (16:37) making it a clean sweep for Mammoth, beating Alder Creek’s Allene Kennedy (16:42) by a mere five seconds. North Tahoe’s Tenaya Driller took the third spot with a time of 17:20, besting Alder Creek skier Sarah Williams by a mere one-tenth of a second.
This week features the last pair of races on the CNISSF schedule, the State Championship meet at Auburn Ski Club. Friday’s race features a 5-kilometer Classic event for the high schoolers (middle school gets the day off to cheer), with the final Freestyle/Skate race on Saturday concluding the championships. Saturday’s race will be started in Pursuit format, so the fastest combination of times from Friday combined with Saturday will be the State Nordic High School Champion. The middle schoolers will race Saturday for their championship in a 4-kilometer Freestyle event.
For full schedule and results, go to http://www.farwestnordic.org.