North Tahoe boys, Sugar Bowl girls win Nordic season opener
Teams from Sugar Bowl Academy and North Tahoe started the 2017-18 California Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation Nordic season off strongly with wins from the Sugar Bowl girls and Lakers boys.
The Foothill Classic was held on Friday, Dec. 22 at Auburn Ski Club, with skiers taking two laps on a roughly 2-kilometer course that was helped by a snowstorm that hit the area, which made for excellent conditions to open the year.
“Ice is really hard to kick on,” said Truckee senior Abby Baier on the recent snowfall. “But this stuff is fast for downhill and really fast for the uphills. The better your snow the less likely you are to have to herringbone, which is when you run, so you can just ski a lot faster.”
The Sugar Bowl Academy squads had a strong showing to open the year with the girls taking the team win, and the boys putting three skiers in the top five. The North Tahoe boys took the team win, followed by Truckee and Placer; while on the girls’ side, North Tahoe finished second, and was followed by Mammoth.
Racing began at 10:30 a.m. on a brisk morning at the course near Boreal Mountain Resort with Sugar Bowl Academy junior and three-time defending state champion Haydn Halvorsen hitting the course for the first of 27 individual starts for the varsity boys.
The battle for first place would come down to Halvorsen and longtime rival in North Tahoe senior JC Schoonmaker, who hit the course 15 seconds after Halvorsen’s start.
“It was the kind of course that I like — gradual uphills, lots of flat,” Schoonmaker said. “Usually (the course) is a bit hillier, but today, with the lack of snow, they had to make it a little shorter.”
Over the two laps of racing, Schoonmaker narrowed the gap between the two to less than 8 seconds to capture the season-opening victory with a time of 9 minutes, 8.57 seconds. Halvorsen would finish next with a time of 9:16.99.
“I love racing Haydn,” Schoonmaker said. “He’s a really good challenge, and that helps push me a lot. I’m really excited to see how we both do, because we definitely help each other out — we make each other a lot faster.”
North Tahoe’s Cooper Anderson (9:40.71) was next, followed by Sugar Bowl’s Nate Cutler (9:41.62), and Sugar Bowl’s Bjorn Halvorsen (10:30.21) in fifth place.
The defending team state champions, North Tahoe, took the win over four other teams to open the year with a low score of 17 points. Truckee was a distant second with 81 points. Sugar Bowl didn’t have the required four skiers to register a score.
The Lakers other two scorers were freshmen Phoenix Sanchez (10:39.68), who took sixth place, and Etienne Bordes (10:54.81) in seventh place.
“I’m definitely excited,” Schoonmaker said on the upcoming season. “We’ve got a lot of young freshmen boys, and I’m excited to see what we can do. We’ve got a lot of potential.”
Truckee was without their top skier in junior KC Larkins, and was led by sophomore Aaron Bronstone (11:55.68) with a 13th-place finish. Calin Laine (12:33.84) was next for the Wolverines, followed by Zac Blum (13:03.84) and Zach Larson (13:13.84).
The girls’ race started shortly after the final skier from the boys’ competition crossed the line, and was won by Sugar Bowl, with the team finishing with the three fastest times of the day.
Kianna Mullings led Sugar Bowl with a time 11:01.30 to take first place out of a field of 24 skiers. Sofia Sanchez was next for Sugar Bowl with a time of 11:14.71 for second, followed by Eleanore Hamilton in third place with a time of 11:52.57. Lacey Norris was Sugar Bowl’s final scoring skier with a time of 12:58.18 for a ninth-place finish. Sugar Bowl finished the day with 15 points to edge out North Tahoe, who finished with 26 points. Mammoth was next with 48 points, followed by Truckee with 76 points.
After Sugar Bowl’s top three skiers crossed the line, a trio of freshmen Lakers —Kili Lehmkuhl (12:08.30), Lily Murnane (12:41.27), and Alani Powell (12:46.43) — were next to cross the line. Truckee’s Baier (12:46.71) posted the next fastest time for seventh place.
“The snow was a lot better than any of us expected … the skiing was phenomenal,” said Baier after the race. “It was a good introduction for us.”
North Tahoe’s other scoring skier was Mera Schoonmaker (13:37.11), and Truckee’s were Grace Houdous (14:54.02), Jenna Elliot (15:58.74), and Riley Madigan (16:38.05).
Skiers will take the next two weeks off of high school competition before returning for the second of the season, the Kirkwood Relays Freestyle, on Jan. 12.