Local team Far West takes advantage of altitude to gain elevation in rankings | SierraSun.com

Local team Far West takes advantage of altitude to gain elevation in rankings

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Photo by Mark NadellWhitney Prossor races in the 2005 Junior Olympics this week.
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The pleasant weather that conveniently landed on the week of the Nordic Junior Olympics at Auburn Ski Club is not being taken for granted, especially by those from the bitterly cold and stormy Appalachian Mountains.

“The weather is great,” said Sverre Caldwell, a coach of 25 years for Stratton Mountain School in southern Vermont. “This is why we all wanted to come out. It’s how we hoped it would be.”

The forecast in Stratton Mountain this week calls for a high temperature of 6 degrees, with snow. Truckee’s forecast calls for a high of 64 degrees, with copious amounts of sunshine.

“[The heat] makes it a little tougher to race,” Caldwell said, “but it sure is great. We’d much rather have it like this than gray and cold.”

On Wednesday, sunburn-red faces ” broken up only by pale patches of white in the shape of goggles or sunglasses ” were common among the blissful crowd that showed up to watch the freestyle competition. The body odor from the viewers, who got stinky simply by standing and rooting, further illustrated the heat.

The local team, Far West, performed well, again, capturing eight medals (top 10 finishes) in total.

Matt Gelso, who won the first-ever Far West Junior National Championship title in the J1 (16 and 17 year olds) sprint competition Monday, took second place Wednesday in the freestyle competition with a time of 35:14, 21.2 seconds behind Simi Hamilton of Aspen Valley Ski Club. Garrett Reid took sixth place in 36:58.3.

In the boys OJs (18 and 19 year olds) for Far West, Dominic Henriques placed second in 36:41.2 seconds, 7.3 seconds behind the winner, Dylan Mogk, of Bridger Ski Foundation.

Alex Taylor, a J2 (14 and 15 year olds) who was sixth in the sprints Monday, placed fourth in the freestyle Wednesday in 13:10.1, 49.5 seconds behind the winner, Alex Howe, of Gunstock Nordic. Far West’s Carl Reid was sixth in 13:16.9.

Far West’s Bernie Nelson placed seventh in the girls J2 with a time of 15:12.3, and Sophie Leonard placed 10th in 15:27.5.

In the girls OJ for Far West, Kara LaPoint finished in eighth place in 29:43.4.

Caldwell said the home course advantage showed.

“Far West did awesome today,” he said. “It’s awesome to see.”

Pete Phillips, a coach for the Mid-Atlantic division from Lake Placid, N.Y., said Far West definitely has the edge when it comes to their home course, which is more than 7,000 feet in elevation.

“Everybody on our team has noticed [the elevation],” Phillips said. “Today it kind of showed. Yesterday in the sprints I think a lot of the other teams did well, but today the altitude was definitely in command.”

Phillips said with the warm spring weather, he couldn’t be enjoying himself more.

“They’ve done a great job here,” he said. “Good grooming, everything is going off on time, good hospitality. I’m having a great time.”