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Truckee Nordic dominates state championships

Mark Nadell
Special to the Sun
Photo by Mark NadellMaisha Goodpaster of Truckee High School leads the pack.
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The pursuit race format is the true test of a Nordic skier’s mettle. While one athlete might be better in classic and another a faster skater, the winner of the pursuit is almost guaranteed to be the best all-around skier in each discipline of cross country racing.

So it is fitting that the California/Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation’s High School Championships for 2005 at the Auburn Ski Club over the weekend adopted the pursuit format to determine the fastest Nordic racer in the region.

This particular event was a two-day affair. On Friday, all high school racers competed in a 5 kilometer (3 mile) freestyle (skate) race, with the racers all starting at the same time in a “mass-start” format. Then on Saturday, the athletes competed in the classic (diagonal stride) technique event, another 5 kilometer race around the same two-lap course. The difference was that at Saturday’s event, racers were sent off at intervals that equaled their time behind the leader from Friday’s race. The two times are then essentially combined, and the first person to cross the finish line in Saturday’s race is declared the winner and state champion.

Truckee High School’s dominance in the boys division has been unquestioned throughout the season, and over the two days of racing it was evident again that no one was going to challenge them.

After taking the varsity boys league championship crown for the season, any question of the champion was going to have to be an intramural affair, with Joaquin Goodpaster, Alex Taylor, and Spencer Wood closely vying for the top spot. With one of their top skiers, Matt Gelso, in Norway on a US Ski Team sponsored trip, Goodpaster was the pre-race favorite, and he did not disappoint.

Friday’s skate race found Taylor in the lead at the end, managing to pull away from Goodpaster and Wood in the last kilometer to take a nine second lead going into Saturday’s classic event. The problem, however, with winning the first day is that Taylor now had a bullseye on his back throughout the second race.

Goodpaster managed to catch him during the first lap, and then put on a burst of speed on the last climb of the second to take the crown, finishing the classic leg more than 30 seconds faster than any other competitor, with an overall two-day time of 33 minutes and 20 seconds.

Taylor hung on for second place (33:46), with Wood (33:57) finishing third overall. In all, Truckee High was able to take six out of the top 10 spots to win the varsity boys team crown.

“I am extremely proud of what our men and women accomplished this season, and hope the town of Truckee realizes what a special group of athletes they have representing them,” said Jon Halvorsen, Truckee’s coach. “Look out Junior Olympics.”

For the varsity girls, younger sister Maisha Goodpaster had tasted the championship once before, winning the title as a freshman two years ago. A sub-par skate race on Friday, however, meant that her work was cut out for her in the second half of the pursuit. Sophie Leonard of Mammoth High School traveled the skate course on Friday faster than any other competitor, and when her teammate Dayna Stimson took second place, Goodpaster’s chances for victory seemed ominous, needing to make up over 25 seconds.

She took quick care of that, however, using an early burst of speed to catch and pass her two competitors in the first lap, and not looking back during the second lap to easily win the title with an overall time of 38 minutes and 32 seconds.

The two Mammoth girls were not going to be caught from behind by anyone else, however, with Leonard taking the silver medal with a time of 38:40, and Stimson the bronze (39:04).

Some of the best racing of the weekend was put in by the junior varsity competitors. Truckee’s JV girls finished a dominating 1-2-3 in their event, with Lucy Ferneyhough and Angela Raso races coming down to the final sprint on both days. While Raso’s skate time on Friday was a mere second faster than Ferneyhough’s, it didn’t matter enough on Saturday to keep Ferneyhough from overtaking Raso and outsprinting her for the JV girls championship. Brittney White made it a Truckee clean sweep by finishing in third place.

The boys JV also featured a closely-fought two days of racing, with Truckee High taking an amazing top six spots in the overall competition. Andrew Pado of Truckee was the fastest on Friday, but Colin Shane showed that over the two days he deserved the title of fastest jv skier. Both races were hard-fought, with multiple lead changes, but in the end Shane was able to pull away and win by less than five seconds. Benji van Blarigan finished in the third position.

In the middle school division, the race was just a one day affair, with Saturday determining the CNISSF champion in a 4-kilometer classic event. As has been the case all year, both the boys and girls division winners were from Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee, and both winners were repeats from the state championships last year. Daniel Gelso was once again clearly the fastest skier of the day, cruising to an easy victory with a time of 14 minutes and 30 seconds over the two-lap course. Following in his footsteps for yet another race was Russell Kennedy (16:02) and Tom McElravey (16:11), also of Alder Creek.

The girls division winner was also no surprise, with Bernie Nelson of Alder Creek outdistancing her competition with a time of 16 minutes and 37 seconds, winning an almost two-minute margin over her teammates Sophie Aaron (18:22) and Katie Dill (18:31).


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