Truckee Nordic teams win in Classic fashion at Tahoe Donner
Strong winds, strong enough to blow down the announcer’s booth, could not prevent Truckee Nordic skiers from dominating yet another competition on Friday at Tahoe Donner Cross Country.Even with one event to go, the Truckee High School Nordic ski team clinched the California/Nevada Interscholastic Ski & Snowboard Federation league title after its dominating performance in the Classic Sprint race.Truckee has swept the first five events of the season behind the stellar skiing of not just a couple skiers, but a slew of skiers, many of whom will compete in the Junior Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, after the conclusion of the CNISSF state championships on Feb. 28.It has been such a team effort in fact, with Truckee skiers typically taking three or four of the top five spots in every event, that it is impossible to pinpoint one or two most valuable skiers. This utter domination is something that the Nordic team and head coach Nancy Gordon has taken pride in.”We work hard for that,” said Gordon, who will step down as head coach at the conclusion of this season. “Truckee has become a cross country Mecca through the Auburn Ski Club and Far West. It’s a hard sport, and there is a lot of support from the community.”Gordon is not leaving coaching entirely. She will stay on as an assistant and simply pass the head coaching duties to the current assistant Jon Halverson.On Friday, fierce gusts and off-and-on snowstorms did not prevent Truckee skiers from accomplishing their usual first place finishes. The Classic Sprints are unique because skiers are gradually eliminated from an original crop of 32 that are seeded based on an initial run in which skiers start in 20-second intervals and race the clock. From 32, the competition dwindles to 16 and eventually to a final heat of eight.In the varsity boys’ division, Truckee skiers took five out of six of the top spots, with Alex Taylor (3:40), Rob Beno and Joaquin Goodpaster taking first, second and third. All three will be making the trip to Lake Placid.In the varsity girls’ division, Kara LaPoint, Maisha Goodpaster and Kati Clark took second, third and fifth respectively. Natalie Joffe continued her strong season for Marin Catholic, finishing first with a time of 3:55.8 in the last heat. All four of these girls will also be skiing under head coach Jeff Schloss at the Junior Olympics.For the junior varsity boys, Truckee skiers Tyler Wright, Ben Kantz and Ben Van Blarigan rounded out the top three (all three will go to the Junior Olympics), and Loren Myers finished fifth. For the JV girls, Jenny Van Blarigan, Katy Jones and Jessica Hooper took first, second and fourth.In middle school boys’ competition, Daniel Gelso (2:11) won by 15 seconds over Sierra Mountain Middle School teammate Will Prosor, but third, fourth and fifth belonged to other schools. For the girls, Sierra Mountain’s Bernie Nelson (2:19.4) earned first and teammates Erika Cornell and Kelsey Dion got third and fourth.But Gordon pointed out the strong performance of Mammoth Middle School, who rounded out most of the top 10 performances along with Truckee. Gordon thinks Mammoth will present the strongest competition to Truckee in the years to come.Mark Nadell, the Far West Nordic Administrator and a Sierra Mountain Middle School coach, said the windy conditions affected the high school more than the middle school.”The wind probably affected the high schoolers more because they were more out in the open,” he said. “Our course was protected by the trees. But given the type of race, I don’t think it affected the placings.”The high school race featured a true Classic race with wax and grooves, while the middle school race was a skate, which is more freestyle. Nadell said this was in the spirit of saving time.”Too many Classic races get too overwhelming,” Nadell said. “It’s a lot of time and effort on the coaches part, so this necessitated two different courses for the high school and middle school.”
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