Truckee Nordic preview: Out of the gates
Many Truckee High Nordic skiers will have more on their minds this season than winning a state championship because that much is expected.
“We’ve been dominant now for quite a few years ” maybe five years,” said Truckee head coach Jon Halvorsen. “Should we win state? I think so, and I expect to.”
Halvorsen, a first-year head coach, has high expectations because many of his skiers are returning from boys and girls teams that swept last year’s California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation (CNISSF) state championship on the varsity levels.
But those are also the same skiers that represent Far West Nordic and brought home a record number of medals from the Junior Olympics last March in Lake Placid, N.Y. Although Truckee racers compete against area skiers on the high school level, they become teammates on the Far West circuit. And that’s where the challenge begins for Halvorsen.
“We’ll be missing a number of our top skiers at (high school) races due to nationals,” he said. “Our biggest obstacle in winning state again is to figure out how to overcome those races in which we lose our top skiers.”
For instance, on Jan. 1-9, Far West will be taking select J1 and older skiers to the 2005 US National Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah. On that same weekend, Truckee High competes at the Kirkwood Freestyle.
Truckee junior Maisha Goodpaster is one racer Halvorsen will miss that weekend. Goodpaster is looking to qualify for the J1 Scandinavian Cup Team that will compete in Norway in late January and early February.
“It’s definitely hard to focus on high school when I have so much other stuff going on,” she said. Besides the competition, there is another advantage for high school skiers to compete on the national level.
“We all want to ski in college, and just skiing high school is not going to get you there,” said Goodpaster, who was the CNISSF state champion as a freshman and finished second last year. “I haven’t been at the high school practices much because I compete with the Far West team a lot.”
Coach Halvorsen won’t deny the importance of the national competitions, but he also wants the younger skiers on the high school team to have a chance to be exposed to the top skiers in the program.
“We’ve been trying to do what we can to work with Far West and head coach Jeff Schloss to try to work out some times during the week when we can train together,” he said. “We look to them for leadership. As far as performances at our (high school) races, it doesn’t really effect us because they’re all such top-level skiers.”
Halvorsen inherits a Truckee program that former head coach Nancy Gordon built into a monster. In the final three years under Gordon, Truckee won the team (boys and girls combined) CNISSF state title.
In addition, last year the Truckee High girls carried their successful high school season to New York and won the Roger Westin Award as the best individual high school girls’ team represented at Junior Olympics, a first for Far West. The boys finished an impressive third.
“I kind of look like I’m riding the wave,” said Halvorsen, who worked as an assistant under Gordon last season. “I’m stepping into a good spot. We just have to maintain what we started.”
Actually, the success of Far West, which is a mix of the top skiers from California, Nevada and Arizona, parallels the success of Tahoe area high schools.
“Most of (the Far West skiers) come from around Truckee and Tahoe anyway,” said Maisha’s older brother, senior Joaquin Goodpaster. “We really want a good (Junior Olympics) team this year, and we’re going to fill the quota of 42 skiers, which is the maximum. Last year, we were at about 32.”
Joaquin competed on the Scandinavian Cup team in Oteppa, Estonia last Jan. 30-Feb.1, one of the largest junior international ski competitions in the world. To add to the excitement of the new season, the Auburn Ski Club (at Boreal Mountain Resort) will be hosting the 2005 Junior Olympics from March 6-12.
“That will make it a more special year,” Joaquin said. “We’ve been doing better every year; we want a really good team this year so we can win on our home turf. We’re hoping to win more medals than ever.”
Like his sister, Joaquin said he is hoping to land a college scholarship through his success at national races. He said a long shot is his hope of making the World Junior Team, which will compete in Finland next year. Only five athletes qualify for the prestigious team, Joaquin said, based on the best two times out of three qualifying races.
Because of those national races, Halvorsen has a tricky high school season to focus on because his team can change so much from week-to-week.
“I understand how they’re pulled by the two teams,” he said. “They train with (Far West) all year, even in the summer, and they’re a close group. The racers who are dominating the sport right now have been training all year round.”
The nucleus of Halvorsen’s team was intact on Friday, Dec. 17, at Auburn Ski Club, as Truckee started the season by sweeping the competition in the first event, a three-person 3K relay. (See results below).
Success in Nordic skiing, whether it be in Far West or high school, is not confined to Truckee athletes. Rival North Tahoe won the junior varsity girls’ leg of the state championship last year and produced boys’ individual champion Dominic Henriques. The Mammoth High School varsity girls finished second behind Truckee, and Marin Catholic produced the girls’ varsity individual champion, Natalie Joffe.
[Visit the Truckee High Nordic home page at http://www.truckeenordic.org. For more information about Far West Nordic, visit http://www.farwestnordic.org. To view the 2005 Junior Olympics home page, visit http://www.juniorolympics2005.org.]
-Top 5 performers
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ VARSITY
PL. NAMES TIME TEAM CLASS BIB
1 J. Goodpaster/Gelso/Taylor 20:46.1 T V 69
2 Sterling/T. Wright/O. Wright 21:48.2 T V 70
3 Kantz/L. Myers/Wood 22:37.4 T V 71
4 Meagher/Kurek/Koeck 23:06.4 S V 78
5 Ganong/Krauss/Bozzio 23:42.6 NT V 64
HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ JV
1 Shane/Ferneyhough/VanBlarigan 23:59.4 T JV 72
2 Nadell/Hardy/Pado 25:46.8 T JV 76
3 Curry/Heckendorn/Aldridge 25:47.5 T JV 73
4 Gruetzemacher/Alders/Longo 26:28.9 NT JV 62
5 Greenwood/P. Griffo/Smelser 27:33.2 NT JV 65
HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ VARSITY
1 Jones/O’Neil/Goodpaster 25:01.4 T V 37
2 Violett/Webb/Violett 25:36.5 MX V 81
3 Dion/Ferneyhough/Cornell 26:10.3 T V 38
4 Stimson/Leonard/Oxford 26:32.7 M V 33
5 Granger/McNair/Griffo 29:11.5 NT V 42
HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ JV
1 Zusy/Toombs/Raso 29:36.8 T JV 39
2 Altick/Paulson/Sitkoff 31:12.1 NT JV 45
3 Madding/Caulkett/McNair 33:45.7 NT JV 46
4 Rodrigues/Lipkin/Rodrigues 34:57.6 NU JV 34
5 Ewing/Vallance/Mieske 35:42.3 NT JV 47
[For complete results, including middle school, visit http://www.truckeenordic.org/ths/index.html%5D
Day Date Event Location Time Format
Fri. Dec. 17 ASC Relays Auburn Ski Club 10 a.m. 3x3k
Fri. Jan. 7 Kirkwood Freestyle Kirkwood 10:30 a.m. 5k
Fri. Jan. 14 XC Sprints Truckee High School 3 p.m. 1k sprint
Fri. Jan. 21 ML Classic Mammoth Lakes 11 a.m. 6k
Fri. Jan. 28 NT Pursuit Tahoe XC 10:30 a.m. 5k skate/3k classic
Fri. Feb. 4 NS Classic Northstar-at-Tahoe 10:30 a.m. 7k
Fri. Feb. 11 ASC Freestyle Auburn Ski Club 2 p.m. 5k
Sat. Feb. 12 ASC HS and MS state championship 10 a.m. 5k classic