Far West Junior Olympics team is New York bound
In a show of the overall strength and depth of the division, Far West Nordic is sending an unprecedented 31 athletes to the Chevy Truck Cross Country Ski Junior Olympics Competition in Lake Placid, N.Y., beginning on March 7.Along with eight coaches and numerous parental assistants, this will be the largest and most talented group of athletes ever to represent the division. In total, 18 boys and 13 girls from throughout Northern California and Nevada will attempt to win medals and score points in the coveted Alaska Cup competition at the 2004 JOs, to be held on the same trails as the 1980 Winter Olympics competitions.”(It’s) our strongest team ever,” said Far West Nordic co-head coach Jeff Schloss. “What’s great for us this year is that we have a solid mix of veteran juniors who have been to five or six JOs, along with a large group of very talented newcomers who are eager to win some medals.”One person quite familiar with those trails is co-head coach Glenn Jobe, who competed there for the U.S. 24 years ago in the Biathlon competition at the 1980 Winter Olympics and has been back once for a previous Junior Olympics.”I’m really excited to go back there,” Jobe said. “The trails are challenging, with lots of ups and downs, similar to where we train here at Auburn Ski Club. Plus, the heritage of having two previous Olympic Games and World Cups there makes it an important place for skiing here in the United States.”Coach Schloss added, “The courses at Lake Placid are extremely hilly, which should favor our athletes, because we have a great deal of fitness built in from training at high altitudes. Our kids have been working hard all year long in preparation for this trip.”Almost all of these athletes have dedicated the last year or more to training in preparation for these competitions. A rigorous Nordic skiing training schedule includes running, biking and roller skiing in the offseason; making the JO team doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work.A veteran of two previous JOs, Whitney Prosor of Truckee calls the Junior Olympics experience “phenomenal.””It allows me to experience so many incredible places, meet lots of great individuals, belong to a wonderful group of people, and find out who I really am inside,” she said.In order to attend this national junior competition, skiers between the ages of 13 and 19 needed to qualify by racing in a series of four competitions in the Truckee/Tahoe/Soda Springs area. Races included a Freestyle/Skate Sprint competition (approximately a 1K race), two Classic-style events, and one longer Freestyle competition. Skiers race in two-year age groups, which include Junior 2 (J2) athletes 14 & 15 years old (with exceptional 13-year-old athletes able to petition for inclusion), Junior 1 (J1) athletes 16-17, and Older Juniors (OJ) at 18-19 years old.Each division competes against other athletes from eight other divisions from across the country. The Alaska contingent is the defending champions. Other top divisions from across the country include the New England, Intermountain/Northern and Midwest divisions. With the talent it’s sending in 2004, Far West is aiming to break into the top four this year after finishing 2003 with a record sixth-place ranking.Far West’s team this year includes athletes from throughout Northern California and Nevada. The J2 Girls team includes Sarah Clark, Maisha Goodpaster, Alexandra O’Neil, and Bernie Nelson of Truckee, Gabrielle Joffe of Kentfield (Marin County), Sara Violett of Brownsville, and Dayna Stimson of Crowley Lake/Mammoth.J2 Boys are represented by Nick Bozzio (Tahoe City), Matt Gelso, Alex Taylor, Spencer Wood and Tyler Wright of Truckee, Carl Reid of Palo Alto, and Patrick Trainor, Far West’s first representative raised in Reno.J1 Girls include Cindy Apodaca and Jennifer Myers of Mammoth Lakes, Kati Clark and Kara LaPoint of Truckee, and Natalie Joffe of Kentfield.The J1 Boys team is comprised of Robby Beno, Joaquin Goodpaster, Ben Kantz, Sam Sterling and Owen Wright of Truckee, Dominic Henriques of Tahoe City, Pat Lane of Nevada City, and Garrett Reid of Palo Alto.Finally, the Older Junior Girls will be represented by Whitney Prosor of Truckee, with the OJ Boys comprised of Martin Benes of Oakland (currently skiing for Bates College), Nick Sterling of Truckee (and Colorado University), and Phillip Violett of Brownsville.This year’s schedule includes three individual races and one relay event. On Monday, March 8, the competition starts off with a 1K Freestyle Sprint race. After a day off, athletes will compete in a Classic event on Wednesday, March 10. OJ and J1 boys will ski a 15K distance race, with J2 boys and girls skiing 5K, and OJ and J1 girls going 10K. The races resume again two days later on March 12, with a 10K Freestyle (Skating) competition for the OJ & J1 boys and 5K distances for the remainder of the classes.Finally, the competitions wrap up with an always exciting three-person Relay event on Saturday, March 13, with OJ & J1 boys skiing 5K, OJ & J1 girls racing 5K, and the J2 boys and girls going 3K. In this event, the first two legs will be Classic technique, with the anchor leg being an all-out freestyle race.The team will be returning to the west on Sunday, March 14, in hopes they are laden with a record number of medals and a great placing in the Alaska Cup competition. In addition, Far West hopes to have “thrown down the gauntlet” in preparation for its hosting of the 2005 Junior Olympic Competition right here at Auburn Ski Club.Mark Nadell is the Far West Nordic Administrator.