Nordic girls reign supreme
They’re not from Motown, but this season the Lady Wolverines Nordic ski teams are the Supremes.
Whether it’s Mammoth, Kirkwood, Boreal or Tahoe City, the girls’ varsity and junior varsity teams have produced the same results week in and week out D first place finishes in both team and individual categories.
Coach Nancy Gordon attributes the success to the supportive nature of an already talented team.
“The girls are very socially supportive of each other and they really pull for each other. Sometimes someone has a bad race, and someone else will step up and have a great race,” Gordon said, then added that a good dose of athleticism also helps.
“Our girls are [also] awesome athletes and technically excellent, Nordic skiers,” she said.
The support and encouragement that pervades the team has led the Lady Wolverines to the top of the podium after every race, and established the girls’ Nordic teams as the dominant program in the nine-team California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation.
The Lady Wolverines have not only won races, but done so in such convincing fashion that it’s not uncommon for them to place five, or even six racers in the top 10 spots.
Such was the case last Friday at the Tahoe Cross Country Center behind North Tahoe High School, where the Lady Wolverines were once again led by Kara LaPoint, who edged Natalier Joffe of the Marin Academy by .9 seconds for first place. LaPoint was followed by Betsy VanBlarigan (3rd), Lindsay Collins (4th), Whitney Prosor (8th), Kati Clark (9th) and Kayla Evans (10th).
“They are a joy to coach,” said an elated Gordon afterward.
The boys’ varsity and girls’ junior varsity teams also captured gold.
The varsity boys’ race saw one of the more exciting finishes this season, in which hometown Sophomore Dominic Henriques gave the Laker crowd a Nordic thrill with a dramatic win in the swirling wind. In the Lakers’ only home race of the season Henriques trailed in the classic style race by 10 yards with less than 100 yards left in the race.
Henriques managed to keep Wolverine senior Nick Sterling in his sights, then made a push as the wind gusted on what North Tahoe Head Coach Lars Spurkland described as “a perfect day.” Henriques saved a final burst of energy for the last kick of the race and edged Sterling by a toe’s length as Sterling tumbled over the finish line.
“Sometimes people fall to be dramatic but I don’t do that,” said the exhausted Sterling after the race. “Dom [Henriques] skied a really smart race. He timed his attacks well.”
Gordon thought the finish was too close to call, but was still pleased with the team’s overall finish.
“It definitely looked like a tie, but it is the foot that determines the winner,” Gordon said.
“It was the momentum [of Henriques] that was the difference. But that is a lesson racers have to learn. And I’m glad Nick was able to learn it at a time the team was still able to come in first,” she said.
Despite the photo finish for first, the boys’ varsity team, borrowing a page from the Lady Wolverines, placed five racers in the top 10. North Tahoe was a distant second, followed by Mammoth.
Joaquin Goodpaster (3rd), Andrew VanBlarigan (5th), Thomas Hill (7th) and Ben Kantz (8th) rounded out the Wolverines top 10 finishes.
The Lady Wolverines’ junior varsity continued the winning trends set by the varsity squads, with Jenny VanBlarigan and Sarah Heckendorn finishing one-two. Support from teammates Katy Jones, Ashley Greenwood, Jessica Hooper and Leslie Lighthiser put Nevada Union in a very distant second and North Tahoe third.
The boys’ junior varsity took third behind South Tahoe and ROP. Sam Sterling (4th) and Doug Coombs (6th) led the way for the young Wolverines.
The Nordic Wolverines look to continue their winning tradition on Friday at the Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center at 11:30 a.m.
Additional reporting by Nathan Laver.