Truckee boys dominate nordic races |

Truckee boys dominate nordic races

Photo by Mark NadellTruckee varsity boys skiers Spencer Wood, left, and Tyler Wright sprint toward the finish line during the North Tahoe Pursuit Friday at Tahoe Cross Country. Wood beat out Wright by less than four seconds to win the race.

Cross Country ski racing is usually a tale of two techniques, and the true Nordic competitor is one who has mastered both.

On most race circuits, there are events that use the traditional “classic” style of racing in the tracks ” the elegant and timeless diagonal stride technique, where waxing for grip and choosing the right skis can make or break a day’s effort. Then there’s the new kid on the block, the skating style, where power meets glide and raw speed is the single, primary goal.

Last Friday, those two techniques met face-to-face in the second annual Continuous Pursuit event at North Tahoe High School on the trails of Tahoe Cross Country.

The latest twist on the World Cup Circuit, the Continuous Pursuit demands that the best skier isn’t just the fastest classic racer or skate skier, but rather the best at both disciplines in one long, continuous effort.

Competitors start off on their classic skis (and poles), furiously waxing their bases before the race to get just the right combination of stick for kick and glide for speed. The pack heads off onto the trails in a mass of tangling skis and poles, slowly separating apart from the fastest to the slowest racers.

In this event, four kilometers later, they begin to re-emerge to the start area, where instead of collapsing in a tired heap at the finish line, they quickly find their skating skis and poles, make the speediest of changeovers, and head out onto the skating course for another lap of grueling effort. The winner is simply the fastest around the two-lap course ” similar to a triathlon, where a racer can lose precious seconds on the changeover to the other style of gear.

This was a day that belonged to the Truckee High School boys varsity team, which once again showed its dominance overall by taking the top four spots (even with their top racer, Matt Gelso, overseas at the World Junior Competition).

In the end, it was Truckee’s Spencer Wood out-sprinting his teammate Tyler Wright to take the win by less than four seconds. Although he had only the fourth fastest classic ski time in the first half of the race, Wood was able to combine a quick changeover with a powerful skate leg to overcome Wright’s top time in the classic.

Daniel Gelso, who was in fifth after the first half, powered his way to third place overall, just ahead of Truckee’s Alex Taylor and Nevada Union’s classic ski specialist, Danny Rodrigues.

Jordan Nadell and Alex Ferneyhough took the seventh- and eighth-place spots, giving Truckee’s varsity squad six out of the top eight to win the team event.

The girls varsity event wasn’t quite as favorable for Truckee, with diminutive Mammoth racer Sophie Leonard closely stalking Truckee’s Maisha Goodpaster during the classic portion, only to put on a burst of speed in the last part of the skate leg to power away and win the race by 10 seconds over Truckee’s Bernie Nelson. Goodpaster faded slightly during the skate portion, but still had enough in the tank to hold onto third place, ahead of Mammoth’s Dayna Stimson and Marin Catholic’s Gabrielle Joffe.

Truckee’s junior varsity teams eased the loss of the girls varsity by taking both the boys and girls events.

Truckee freshman Emily Stewart notched her first win of the season by combining a solid classic race (second into the changeover) with a blistering skate effort to edge North Tahoe’s Sage Clark and Morgan Paulson. Gina Krauss, of Truckee, easily took the fourth spot for a solid team result.

In the boys JV, Truckee’s Andrew Pado was in a dogfight throughout the race with North Tahoe’s Tom McElravey, finishing the classic portion just a second ahead, but finally pulling away during the skate leg to take top honors. The rest of the top five went to Truckee High, with Blake Heckendor, Ben Aldridge and Drew Deurlington rounding out the results.

In the middle school competition, racers were required only to ski in the classic style around the same course as the high schoolers in what was their first classic race of the season. Alder Creek Middle School’s Sophie Aaron avenged her only loss of the season, at the Truckee Sprints two weeks ago, by once again claiming top honors for the middle school division. And once again, teammate Annika Taylor was able to outdistance the rest of the competition by finishing second, ahead of Mammoth Middle School’s Kristin King and Alder Creek’s Robyn Bath-Rosenfeld.

For the fourth race in a row, the middle school boys had the same top three finishers:

Alder Creek’s Russell Kennedy easily outdistanced his opposition, cruising along in his effort of attaining a clean sweep in league competition; Miles Heapes of North Tahoe was within sight, but not close enough to challenge Kennedy; and Alder Creek’s Ryan Zusy took the third spot.

This Friday, the CNISSF race circuit heads south to Mammoth Lakes, where racers will compete in a classic style event on the trails at scenic Tamarack Lodge.

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