Nordic skiers finish season on top |

Nordic skiers finish season on top

Josh MillerAbove: (From left to right) Truckee High School Nordic skiers Maisha Goodpaster, Kara LaPoint, Whitney Prosor and Kati Clark finished first through fourth in Thursdays 7K Classic Race in the varsity girls' division.

Even though the Truckee High School Nordic ski team had already won the league title before Thursday’s event, it was determined to end the season in winning fashion.At Tahoe Cross Country on Feb. 12, it made its California/Nevada Interscholastic Ski & Snowboard Federation league title legitimate by winning three out of four varsity and junior varsity boys’ and girls’ competitions in beautiful weather conditions. The event was the final league points race of the season before the state championships later this month.As spectators and coaches awaited the varsity girls’ finish in the 7K Classic race, North Tahoe head coach Gary York predicted the results with good-hearted sarcasm.”Expect a big blur of red,” York said with a smile.Just as York forecasted, four Truckee varsity girls – Maisha Goodpaster, Kara LaPoint, Whitney Prosor and Kati Clark – provided that blur of red, rounding out the top four spots. Goodpaster won three of six races this season.York maintains a positive attitude toward Truckee’s winning ways.”I’m mostly out here because I love skiing, but it would be nice (for my team) to win,” he said. “But I know all these kids through the Far West.”York will help coach the Junior Olympic team, mostly made up of Truckee skiers, in Lake Placid, N.Y. in early March.The Truckee girls’ varsity team’s dominating effort on Thursday defines what the Truckee Nordic team has done all season as it prepares for the state championships at Auburn Ski Club on Feb. 27 and 28. As a freshman, Goodpaster was the girls’ state champion in 2003. Truckee’s Matt Gelso was the boys’ winner, also a freshman last season.On Thursday, the varsity boys did not miss a beat without one of its main performers, Joaquin Goodpaster. He was still recovering from the Scandinavian Cup competition held Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 in Otepaa, Estonia. Gelso and North Tahoe’s Dominic Henriques were also absent from the event.On Thursday, Truckee’s Owen Wright was happy to take advantage of the absence of some of the heavy hitters in the Nordic field. Wright won by 13 seconds (22:08) over the nearest competitor, Patrick Lane of Nevada Union. Wright was able to pull away from his competition in the last half of the race”Owen just blew everybody away out there today,” said Truckee head coach Nancy Gordon.Wright knew he had a better chance in this race, given the circumstances.”I knew that with Dom (Henriques), Joaquin (Goodpaster), and Matt (Gelso) out, the field was wide open,” he said.Wright said he has been skiing since he was 5 and humbly talked about his first-place finish after the race, noting Truckee’s emphasis on the team concept.”A lot of the people on the team are going to the Junior Olympics,” he said. “We all train together and have been skiing most of our lives.”Come March, Wright will be competing in the Junior Olympics for the second year in a row, like a lot of his teammates. Referring to the team’s past experience at JOs, he said it should do better this time around.Truckee’s Alex Taylor and Rob Beno finished third and fifth for the varsity boys.Tyler Wright, Owen’s younger brother, took the top spot for Truckee’s junior varsity boys. Owen is the oldest brother in a team of three brothers who ski for Truckee.Ben Kantz and Loren Myers claimed second and third place. Wright finished a mere second ahead of Kantz. The photo finish between Wright and Kantz is a microcosm of Truckee’s season – it has been more of a race against itself, rather than the rest of the league.But the JV girls’ division was won by North Tahoe, behind a first and third finish by Dani Griffo and Erin Altic. Sandwiched between them was a second place finish by Truckee’s Katy Jones. Truckee’s Rachel Waller took fourth.In the middle school races, both winners completed a clean sweep for first place finishes throughout the season.Bernie Nelson of Sierra Mountain Middle School continued her domination of the girls’ division by outskiing her competition with a time of 13 minutes and 58 seconds over the 4K course. In doing so, Nelson wrapped up the overall League points win. Dayna Stimson of Mammoth Middle School completed her excellent season with her fourth consecutive second-place finish, sealing up the silver medal for league points. Erika Cornell of SMMS also continued her strong late-season finish by taking third place, both in this race and in the league competition.The middle school boys were again dominated by overall points winner Daniel Gelso, completing his fourth straight win with a time of 13 minutes and 46 seconds. TJ Christiana of Mammoth was able to win a hard-fought battle over third-place finisher Jordan Nadell of SMMS to round out the top three. In doing so, Christiana wrapped up the bronze medal in the league points, behind Will Prosor of SMMS, who was injured for this race.Mark Nadell, the Far West Nordic Administrator, contributed to this article. The state championships is the last event to prep the Junior Olympic team for its trip to New York. Racing begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 at Auburn Ski Club. The Friday afternoon race will be a 5K Freestyle for the High School league only, with the overall state champion to be crowned on Saturday morning following the 5K Classic Pursuit Race, with competitors starting their race based on the results from the previous day. Also on Saturday, the middle school will complete its racing season with a 4K Freestyle competition.

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