Local juniors make history in Lake Placid | SierraSun.com

Local juniors make history in Lake Placid

Mark Nadell, Special to the Sun
Courtesy photoMaisha Goodpaster led the Truckee High School girls with a second in the Classic and a third in the Sprints.
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Two very prestigious awards have put the icing on the cake in 2004 for the Far West Nordic division after this week’s Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Junior Olympic Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.After achieving a record number of medals (top 10 individual finishes and top 5 relay finishes) and podium appearances (top 3) this week, Far West Nordic athletes have also headed home with a couple of special awards for team and individual achievement.The Truckee High School girls won the Roger Westin Award as the best individual high school team represented at Junior Olympics, a first for Far West. This award has never been won by a school team from outside the state of Alaska. Also, The Truckee boys’ team recorded a very impressive third place finish.Natalie Joffe, of Kentfield, Calif., won the Dave Quinn award for excellence among cross country ski athletes. Named for the winner of the 1971 Birkebeiner (who died of cancer in 1977), this award goes to the top skier at Junior Olympics for a combination of performance and sportsmanship. No Far West skier has ever been awarded this distinction until now.Joffe, a senior at Marin Catholic High School and the 2004 girls’ CNISSF Nordic state champion, travels eight hours round-trip each week to ski in the Tahoe area. She has earned nine medals in the last three Junior Olympics. Joffe also makes time to teach sight-impaired skiers.As for the race, conditions in Lake Placid were less than ideal when the team arrived, with a week of warm rains melting the snowpack to mud and ice. But with the help of over 300 truckloads of snow dumped on the course, the races were held on a thin layer of snow. Luckily, an additional three inches of new snow fell during the week of competition to spruce up the snowpack.In individual competition, Far West skiers brought home the most medals ever – 16 individual performances and two relay medals.Individual medal winners included: Nick Sterling (OJ, Truckee): 4th in Sprints; Phillip Violett (OJ, Brownsville): 4th in Classic, 5th in Freestyle; Joaquin Goodpaster (J1, Truckee): 8th in Sprints; Dominic Henriques (J1, Tahoe City): 9th in Sprints; Matt Gelso (J2, Truckee): 3rd in Classic, 5th in Sprints and 5th in Freestyle.In Girls’ competitions, Kati Clark (J1, Truckee): 4th in Sprints; Natalie Joffe (J1, Kentfield): 6th in Sprints, 8th in Classic; Kara LaPoint (J1, Truckee): 9th in Classic; Maisha Goodpaster (J2, Truckee): 3rd in Sprints, 2nd in Classic, 8th in Freestyle; Bernie Nelson (J2, Truckee): 6th in Sprints.In addition, the Relay teams of Whitney Prosor (Truckee), Kara LaPoint and Natalie Joffe took second in the OJ Girls division, and the J1 Boys team of Joaquin Goodpaster, Dominic Henriques and Matt Gelso received a bronze medal for third. In all, 11 athletes out of the 31 attending the competition received at least one medal, another Far West record, demonstrating the depth of the team.In addition to the medal performances, there were some significant personal achievements made at Junior Olympics as well. The rest of the Far West boys’ team included Martin Benes (OJ, Oakland), Rob Beno (J1, Truckee), Ben Kantz (J1, Truckee), Pat Lane (J1, Nevada City), Garrett Reid (J1, Palo Alto), Sam Sterling (J1, Truckee), Owen Wright (J1, Truckee), Nick Bozzio (J2, Tahoe City), Carl Reid (J2, Palo Alto), Alex Taylor (J2, Truckee), Pat Trainor (J2, Reno), Spencer Wood (J2, Truckee), and Tyler Wright (J2, Truckee).The remaining girls consisted of Cindy Apodaca (J1, Mammoth Lakes), Jen Myers (J1, Mammoth Lakes), Sara Clark (J2, Truckee), Gabrielle Joffe (J2, Kentfield), Alexandra O’Neil (J2, Truckee), Dayna Stimson (J2, Crowley Lake), & Sara Violett (J2, Brownsville). Each skier achieved personal best performances for a national competition in at least one of the races at Junior Olympics.Then there was the lifetime experience factor for all those involved.Athletes were treated to experience the Olympic ideal in the Lake Placid setting, site of both the 1936 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Just seeing the giant ski jump towers, the winding bobsled track, the speed skating oval and the biathlon range seemed to inspire everyone on the team. One highlight included seeing the movie “Miracle,” detailing the U.S. Hockey Team’s Gold Medal victory at that very rink at Lake Placid. Far West coach Glenn Jobe was able to lend some first-hand knowledge from his own Olympic experience at those 1980 Games as a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team.The coaching staff, headed by Jobe and Jeff Schloss, also included Nancy Fiddler, Debbi Waldear, Jenny Rassuchine, Bill Sterling, Larry Ford and Gary York. They were all extremely proud of the achievements of the Far West team at the 2004 Junior Olympics competition.”Far West was clearly the most improved team at the competition,” commented Schloss. “The only thing separating Far West from the strongest teams in the country is the number of skiers. Because we draw from a limited geographic area of skiers, we don’t have the sheer numbers of competitors compared to other regions. But with the amazing growth in the numbers of skiers in the local middle school and high school teams, and with Auburn Ski Club providing the base for year-round training, the future results of Far West Nordic racing will continue to improve.”The team made a clear statement to the rest of the country that Far West will defend its “home turf” next year at the 2005 Junior Olympics at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center on Donner Summit.Mark Nadell is the Far West Nordic Administrator.