Nordic skiing | Far West racers punch tickets to Junior Nationals |

Nordic skiing | Far West racers punch tickets to Junior Nationals

Courtesy of Mark Nadell / www.macbethgraphics.comElias Bucher leads Patrick McElravey and Jordan McElroy around a corner during the Presidents' Cup race at Auburn Ski Club on Monday. Find a photo gallery at

Monday was no laid-back holiday for the 116 racers who battled it out in Auburn Ski Club’s President’s Cup Freestyle Race, which served as Far West’s third and final Junior Nationals qualifier for the season.

Participants ranged from 8 years old to more than 75, each giving their all on a challenging course that provided little opportunity for recovery. But for J2, J1 and OJ racers especially (ages 14 to 19), the stakes were high, with a trip to Junior Nationals in Midway, Utah on the line.

The racing began with the 2-kilometer kids’ race, which was won by Ryland Belisle in a time of 4:37.7. Hayden Halvorsen was second in 5:28.6, followed by Ian Smith, who edged out Dawson Smith by just 0.4 seconds to claim the final podium spot. Alexandra Tinsley was the top female, completing the course in 5:42.4, followed by Chloe Gorman and Sina Arnold. Seventeen children under age 14 completed the race.

The 5-kilometer race featured athletes between the ages of 12 and 15. A field of 34 males and females started together to battle for the top spots, and junior national qualifying times, on the one-lap course. North Tahoe High School’s Peter Holmes came away with the win, completing the course in 10:37.5. He was followed by Sugar Bowl Academy’s Sam Zabell, with a time of 10:43.3, and Auburn Ski Club’s Julien Bordes, in 10:53.5. Among women, Truckee’s Gabrielle Rinne took top honors, edging ASC’s Hannah Halvorsen at the line to win by just 0.4 seconds. ASC’s Skyler Flora finished third.

In the 10-kilometer race, which included all juniors over age 15 and all seniors and masters racers, Elias Bucher of the Far West Farm Team came away with his second win in as many weeks, turning in a time of 20:43.7. ASC’s Patrick McElravey was close behind in 20:47.0, followed by Tav Streit, at 20:53.6.

SBA’s Cassidy Cichowicz was the top female and 13th overall, finishing in 23:37.3. Nancy Fiddler of Truckee placed second, just over 10 seconds behind, while her daughter Laurel, of SBA, was third. In all, 66 racers completed the 10-kilometer event.

Monday’s race was the last of three Junior National qualifier races held by the region this year. Far West officially announced its Junior National team members on Tuesday.

The team includes 30 racers, as follows: J2 girls and#8212; Bria Riggs, Gabrielle Rinne, Savannah Blide, Amanda Kirkeby, Skyler Flora, Danielle Nivinski, Camille Hartley and Tara Gallant; J1 girls and#8212; Katrin Larusson, Cassidy Cichowicz, Laurel Fiddler, Joelle Romo and Raylene Chew; OJ girls and#8212; Melanie Swick, Annika Taylor and Joanne Reid; J2 boys and#8212; Sam Zabell, Peter Holmes, Dylan Syben, Julien Bordes, Peter Carroll, Evan Vomund and Eli Yale; J1 boys and#8212; Patrick McElravey, Jordan McElroy, Shane Christian, Branden Deeter, Alex Kopytko and Joe Piercy; OJ boys and#8212; Austin Meng.

The team will head to Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, on March 3 to compete against top juniors from across the nation in four separate races spread across the week-long event.

Find a photo gallery from the race at

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