Another Far West success
Scott Hill, a 16 year old from Tahoe City, traveled to Midway, Utah – the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics – last week for the Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Championships and, in his first year of competition in the J1 division, won himself a trip to Scandinavia.
Hill placed second in a field of about 35 male competitors in the J1 division (ages 16-17) and, as a result, was named as one of six representatives for the US team at the 2000 Scandinavian Cup. This is only the second time in which Far West skiers have participated in the championships and Hill is the first Far West skier to qualify for such an honor.
The competition was divided into two races – a 10 kilometer (six mile) skate race on the first day and a 15 kilometer (9 mile) classic race on the second day. Competitors from three different divisions competed for three different opportunities to advance. The top J0 racers (ages 18-19) became eligible to participate in the World Championship games; the top six male and female J1 racers automatically qualified to compete at the Scandinavian Cup; and the top J2 (ages 14-15) racers qualified to participate in the World Junior Competition.
Hill was ranked 10th among J1 competitors after the first day of competition, finishing the 10K race in 26:27. The competition was based on a pursuit format, meaning that skiers started the second race according to their finish the first day, so Hill started 1:39 seconds after the first place finisher, Mark Iverson, who finished with a time of 24:48. Hill passed all but one skier (Iverson), finishing the 15K classic race in 42:34. Hill finished with a combined time of 1:09:01.
“It was one of the best classic performances I’ve seen in junior competition,” Far West Coach Glenn Jobe said. “The pressure was on, he had to perform and he far exceeded my expectations.”
Hill, who, according to his father Stan Hill, got his passport only days before leaving for the championship, left on Sunday from Salt Lake City en route to Stockholm, Sweden. The team then went to Mora, Estonia for a week of training and racing with the students from the Mora Ski Gymnasium. On Monday, Jan. 24, the team will depart Mora by ferry from Stockholm. Races will be held on the weekend of Jan. 28-29, and the best six male and female J1 skiers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and the United States will compete. The team will return to the US on Monday, Jan. 31.
Jobe accompanied Hill and two other competitors from the Far West team to the US championships. Tahoe City’s Tony Bozzio also competed in the J1 division and finished with a combined time of 1:14:35.7. Ian Case, from Grass Valley, was competing in the J0 division and was unable to participate in one of the races necessary to qualify him for the World Championship Games – a 30K race held the week before. Case finished with a combined time of 1:10:27.9 at the event.
“It’s really excellent to see that not only are the opportunities out there,” Jobe said, “but we have athletes that can take advantage of them and qualify for different teams.”
Jenny Rassuchine participated in the event last year in the J0 division and came two seconds from qualifying for the World Championship. According to Jobe, Rassuchine’s performance “gave the confidence that [Far West] could go on trips and do well.”
“Every time we’re successful,” Jobe said, “it opens the door for more opportunity.”
U.S. team members are responsible for paying their own expenses, so the Far West organization is assisting in collecting donations to help the Hill family pay for the expenses. Donations for Scott can be sent to:
FWNSEA, P.O. Box 10046, Truckee, Calif. 96162.
There are currently 20 athletes from the Far West team in the qualifying process for the Junior Olympics which are to be held from March 4-17 in New Hampshire. Jobe cited several skiers whom he expects to be competitive in the J1 division, including: Bozzio, Hill, Dana Mosman and Louis Van Blarigan.
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