Good snow, fast skiing highlight Junior Olympics | SierraSun.com

Good snow, fast skiing highlight Junior Olympics

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Jen Schmidt/Sierra SunFar West skier Annika Taylor races to an eighth-place finish overall in the J2 girls sprint race on Monday. Far West is in sixth place after Day 1 of the Junior Olympics.
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AUBURN SKI CLUB ” Spotty cloud cover and a biting breeze atop Donner Summit provided ideal snow conditions for the fastest young skiers in the country on Day 1 of the Junior Olympics.

And man were they fast in the opening Sprint competition Monday, with the top boys skiing the finely groomed, 913-meter course in just over 2 minutes.

“They really did a good job here at Auburn Ski Club. The snow and the track are amazing,” said Sara Rottman, a coach with Team Alaska. “The kids are really happy about it. It’s the best snow we’ve seen in a while.”

Coach Scott Peterson with Team Soldier Hollow agreed as he hustled to prepare his racers for the quickly moving wave starts.

“It’s fantastic weather. It’s probably not what everybody was expecting, but it’s terrific for skiing,” he said.

While New England took an early lead in the week-long Junior Olympics competition with 365 points, host Far West Nordic enjoyed several impressive individual finishes in the final heats and ranks sixth in the team standings with 78 points.

Intermountain Northern is second with 293 points and Alaska is third with 284. A total of 382 athletes competed, said Sally Jones, Nordic program director at Auburn Ski Club.

Racers had to advance through time trial qualifiers in the morning before competing head-to-head in six-skier heats for the quarterfinal, semifinal and ” if they made it that far ” the final.

Joanne Reid of Palo Alto led Far West with a fourth-place finish in the J1 girls final, while Truckee’s Bernie Nelson took fifth in the OJ (Older Junior) girls final.

Nelson, who qualified second, was slowed by leg cramps during her final heat.

“I went out super strong and had a good position, but then about halfway up the hill there was nothing I could do; my legs cramped up. I double-poled into the finish,” said Nelson, a senior at Truckee High School. “I was super bummed. But I was just happy I got up to the line and started, because I was cramping in the semifinal, too. …

“I don’t know what happened. I felt like I did everything I could to prepare. It just wasn’t my day, I guess.”

Far West coach Jeff Schloss was confident Nelson would bounce back in time to perform well for the remaining three events ” the freestyle and classic races, and team relays.

“This is the first time I’ve seen it really bad like this, but she’ll be fine for the rest of the races,” Schloss said.

Annika Taylor also posted a top-10 finish for Far West, placing second in the J2 girls “B” final and eighth overall. She was all smiles as she received congratulatory hugs from family and friends after the race.

“I’m incredibly excited,” Taylor said, adding that sprint races are not her specialty. “I wasn’t even sure I’d make it through the quarters. I had some fast girls in my heats. But I put the hammer down and somehow it happened.”

On the boys’ side of the competition, Far West J1 racers Daniel Gelso and Russell Kennedy finished 13th and 14th, respectively.

“I was hoping for a top-10, but I think I can do better on Wednesday,” said Kennedy, looking ahead to Wednesday’s freestyle race. “Hopefully I’ll be able to get a medal for Far West.”

Far West J2 boys Justin Ondry and Patrick McElravey placed 26th and 27th, respectively, while Angelo Raso, a Far West OJ girl, finished 26th.

J2 Girls

1. Stella Holt, Intermountain Northern

2. Corey Stock, New England

3. Tara Geraghty-Moats

J2 Boys

1. Logan Hanneman, Alaska

2. Isaac Lammers, Alaska

3. Akeo Mayfield Carruchi, Inter Mountain

J1 Girls

1. Jessie Diggins, Mid West

2. Elizabeth Guiney, Intermountain Northern

3. Katie Gill, Intermountain Northern

J1 Boys

1. Ethan Dreissigacker, New England

2. Erik Bjornsen, Pacific Northwest

3. Nick Michaud, New England

OJ Girls

1. Parker Tyler, New England

2. Corrine Malcom, Midwest

3. Briana Perkins, Rocky Mountain

OJ Boys

1. Doug Debold, Midwest

2. Reese Hanneman, Alaska

3. Miles Havlick, Intermountain Northern

Wednesday, March 11

9 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. Freestyle races

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Awards Banquet at Alder Creek Middle School

Friday, March 13

9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Classic races

Saturday, March 14

9 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. team relay races

6:30 p.m. guest speaker Miriam Horn at Truckee High School, open to the public

7 p.m. awards ceremony