Far West team wins record medals at Junior Olympics
This past week the Junior Olympic Cross Country Ski Championships were contested in McCall, Idaho. Twenty-five athletes from the Tahoe/Truckee region represented the Far West Division and returned with the most individual medals ever in their history of competing in this event.
Truckee/Soda Springs had 11 athletes on the team: Nick Sterling, Kara Lapoint, Maisha Goodpaster, Joachin Goodpaster, Matt Gelso, Whitney Prosor, Kayla Evans, Kati Clark, Lindsay Collin, Andrew Van Blarigan and Nick Grimmer.
The strong skiing of each of these athletes helped propel the team to a sixth-place overall finish, tied for the best team result in the last 15 years. The competition was fierce, with over 350 athletes representing nine divisions from across the country racing for medals for the top 10 in each age group.
The week-long series of races started off with a sprint race of 1 kilometer. In the J2 women’s category (age 14-15) Far West advanced more skiers to the final rounds than any other division and came away with Natalie Joffe in seventh and Kara Lapoint in 12th. In the J2 boys Joaquin Goodpaster posted the eighth fastest qualifying time and finished the finals in 13th. Nick Sterling showed his sprinting prowess by battling to third place in the boys’ J1 (16-17 years old) category, Far West’s first-ever sprint podium finish.
Wednesday’s event was a classic race, and the Far West Juniors came away with four medals. In a day where no kick waxes worked well, Far West skiers skied on “hairies,” a modified ski base that allowed Truckee’s Kara Lapoint to blaze away to a third place medal in the girls’ J2 race and Truckee’s Joaquin Goodpaster to capture a fourth place medal in the boys J2 category.
The brother combination of Zach and Phillip Violett from Brownsville rounded out the medal haul with a second and eighth in the OJ and J1 races.
The rest of the Truckee contingent posted the following outstanding results: Matt Gelso 12th J2 boys, Nick Sterling 18th and Andrew Van Blarigan 23rd J1 Boys, Nick Grimmer 36 older junior boys, Maisha Goodpaster 13th and Kati Clark 43rd J2 girls, Lindsay Collin 63rd , Whitney Prosor 73rd and Kayla Evans 76th in the J1 girls catagory.
The final individual race was a skating race with Far West’s Natalie Joffe earning the eighth place medal in the girls’ J2 and 5 other Far West skiers just out of the medals with results in the top 20.
The last event of the series was a three-person relay and was generally considered by most athletes to be the highlight of the week. The Far West J2 Girls took a fourth place medal powered by Natalie Joffe, Kara Lapoint, and Bishop’s Sarah Armstrong. Other strong relay performances were turned in by Sterling, Van Blarigan and Phillip Violett in the J1 boys relay, and Collin, Prosor and Harlow in the J1 girls relay.
“This was an amazing performance for our division and it shows that the hard work we put in this year is really paying off,” said head Far West Coach Jeff Schloss. “I am most encouraged by the growth in numbers of athletes who qualified this year and by the outstanding results of the younger skiers. I think the future looks very bright for cross country ski racing in our area.”
Next year’s Junior Olympics will be in Fairbanks, Alaska, and all 11 Truckee athletes from this year’s team will still be juniors next season, making them eligible to qualify for the team.
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