Overcoming geographichal barriers | SierraSun.com

Overcoming geographichal barriers

Renee Shadforth
Sierra Sun
Photo by Mark NadellMarin cross country skier Gabrielle Joffe makes the four-hour commute to Truckee each week to practice with the Far West Nordic team. Joffe will compete in the Junior Olympics this week at Auburn Ski Club.
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There ain’t no mountain high enough to keep Gabrielle Joffe from cross country skiing.

In fact, every weekend during the winter, Joffe and her family make the drive from sea level in Marin to the mountains of Truckee to ski with the Far West Nordic team.

“It’s pretty remarkable that somebody who lives four hours from snow can excel at cross country skiing. It’s an incredible sacrifice on her part and her family’s part,” said Jeff Schloss, head coach for the Far West Nordic region, which includes skiers from California, Nevada and Arizona.

And the sacrifice has paid off. Joffe was third in the state championships this year, an exceptional feat for a 15 year old, Schloss said.

But for Joffe, making the drive to Truckee every weekend to be with her Far West team is just part of life.

“I love racing; it’s a lot of fun,” Joffe said this week. “It’s not a sacrifice for me. I’ve made so many friendships up here.”

Next week, Joffe and her Far West Nordic teammates look forward to the 2005 United States Ski Association Junior Olympics, which are coming to Auburn Ski Club March 4 – 12. The event will bring more than 400 of the sport’s top junior athletes from all over the country to the Truckee area.

Joffe said she has high hopes for her team, which will be racing on its home course, especially since Far West has had a lot of growth in the number and strength of its athletes in the past few years.

This is a team on the up and up, she said.

“People used to call us ‘Far Worst,'” Joffe said. “Now, we can only do better, and we keep doing better. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Last year’s Junior Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., were testimony to Far West’s development on the Nordic scene. The girls from Truckee High School won the Roger Westin Award for the best individual high school team represented at the games, which made Junior Olympics history. It was a first for Far West and any high school team outside of Alaska, for that matter.

Also, Joffe’s older sister, Natalie Joffe, took home the Dave Quinn award, which goes to the top skier in the Junior Olympics. No Far West skier had ever received the award.

Unlike most athletes, coach Schloss said Gabrielle Joffe hasn’t let the success of her 18-year-old sister hamper her drive to race.

“For many siblings, it would be a burden ” it hasn’t for Gabrielle,” he said. “It’s really been an inspiration for her.”

Despite Joffe’s major geographical obstacles, she continues to make the four-hour trek each week simply for the love of cross country skiing and her Far West teammates.

And this week’s Junior Olympics should be no exception.

“It’s really a tight group of skiers, and we all practice together, unlike most of the regions that will be coming here,” she said. “I just hope we can continue to come in better rankings.”