Nordic championships this weekend
After three out of four teams captured first place finishes last Friday on their home course, you could say the Truckee Nordic program is peaking just in time for this weekend’s State Championship at the Auburn Ski Club at Boreal.
But that would be a little misleading, as the Nordic Wolverines, both individually and as a team, gelled in November, and December and January and right up to Friday’s competition at the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center.
The junior varsity girls’ team loosened up racers and welcomed spectators with a rendition of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” but once the gun sounded to start the last race of the California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation regular season, a 7-kilometer skate race, the Nordic Wolverines were all business.
A second place finish by the boys’ varsity team was all that saved the rest of the field from being swept.
But on a day when many of the Nordic Wolverines capped great regular seasons with still another convincing win, senior Nick Sterling’s first place finish in the boys’ varsity race deserved special attention.
Because of his participation in forerunning events in the Winter Olympics this weekend, Friday was the team captain’s last high school race.
So while it may have been the home course advantage or the result of lessons learned from a photo-finish loss last week in Tahoe City, the pure adrenaline that often accompanies the last performance of a distinguished career probably played a part in his final race.
Whatever it was, Sterling won the boys’ varsity race in convincing fashion with a time of 19:56, 45 seconds ahead of Sugar Bowl Academy’s Phillip Violett.
After the first of two laps around the course, Sterling led Violett and North Tahoe’s Dominic Henriques and Tony Bozzio by less than 10 seconds.
“I didn’t want to lead [during the first lap], I wanted to see how everybody else was, but I still found myself in the lead,” Sterling said afterward. “But I stepped it up on the hill on the second lap, and skied away with it.”
Sterling said last week’s split second loss to Henriques, in which he raced out to a big lead only to be caught by in the final 100 yards, taught him a lesson.
“Last week I just hammered from the start, and I paid for it at the end. I skied a lot smarter today,” he said.
Despite Sterling’s first place finish, the boys’ varsity team had to settle for second behind North Tahoe.
The boys’ junior varsity team was able to get back to the top of the podium thanks to four top ten finishes by Greg Beno (6th), Loren Myers (7th), Sam Sterling (8th) and Doug Coombs (10th).
And both of the girls’ teams continued their string of first place finishes. Kara LaPoint (2nd), Lindsay Collin (3rd) and Betsy VanBlarigan (4th) led the varsity club.
Jenny Van Blarigan and Sarah Heckendorn finished one-two for the second week in a row to lead the junior varsity squad.
With Sterling away in Utah, Coach Nancy Gordon still thinks the Wolverines can make a clean sweep at this weekend’s state championships at the Auburn Ski Club track at Boreal.
“We excel on hilly technical courses like the Auburn Ski Club track. If everyone on the team maintains a positive ‘can do’ attitude during the race, their training and skill will lead them to victory,” Gordon proclaimed.