Truckee’s Spencer Wood to Nordic ski in Montana |

Truckee’s Spencer Wood to Nordic ski in Montana

File photoSpencer Wood, a 2007 Truckee High grad, leaves later this month to attend Montana State University. He hopes to ski for the Bridger Ski Foundation for a season before joining the Montana State Nordic team the following year.

Spencer Wood has a plan, and if it plays out, the 2007 Truckee High grad will be Nordic skiing for the Montana State University Bobcats two winters from now.

Wood leaves Aug. 23 for Bozeman, Mont., where he will settle in to the campus dorms and prepare for the first day of class on Aug. 27.

While enrolled as a part-time student ” taking just two classes his first semester, or six units ” he hopes to join the Bridger Ski Foundation in Bozeman, which is the area’s equivalent to the Auburn Ski Club on Donner Summit.

After a season of competitive Nordic skiing for the Bridger Ski Foundation, Wood is confident he’ll be prepared to compete at the collegiate level for Montana State.

His coaches ” known in the Nordic community as some of the finest in the sport ” have faith in his ability.

“I think Spencer could make their (Montana State’s) team right now, this year,” said Jeff Schloss, one of Wood’s coaches at the Auburn Ski Club and with Far West Nordic. Wood, after all, ranks among the top 10 or 15 freestyle racers in the country in his age group, said Schloss, “which would place him on most college teams.

“Not only could be make the team, but he might be a player right away.”

Nevertheless, Schloss approves of the route Wood is taking. As does Ben Grasseschi, head coach at Auburn Ski Club.

“I think it’s a wise idea,” Grasseschi said. “It’s difficult to be a student-athlete, and this will give him one more year of solid training base.”

Wood, who visited Montana State for freshman orientation the last week of June, said he has spoken with the Bobcats’ head Nordic coach, Grethe Hagensen.

“She liked my game plan,” Wood said, adding that he still needs to e-mail the Bridger Ski Foundation to inquire about joining.

Asked why he chose Montana State, aside from the opportunity to ski, Wood said he wanted to distance himself from his hometown to attend school.

“I would have gone to UNR, but it’s too close to home,” he said, adding that high school friends Tyler and Owen Wright also go to Montana State. Plus, Wood said, “It’s a really cool town ” a lot like Truckee.”

Wood said he began cross-country skiing in sixth grade and started skiing competitively his freshman year in high school.

Like other young Nordic skiers in the area, he benefited from top-notch instruction provided at the Auburn Ski Club with Far West Nordic.

For that he is appreciative.

“(Far West Nordic is) about as good as it can get,” Wood said. “They don’t come much better than this.”

Schloss served as his head coach until Grasseschi took over the post in 2005. Schloss remains an assistant, having coached Wood the past five years, he said.

“It’s been great working with Spencer, and it’s really neat to see someone who has a passion for ski racing and to see someone improve over the years. And Spencer definitely has,” Schloss said.

Thus far in his young career, Wood said he is most proud of his seventh-place freestyle finish at the 2006 Nordic Junior Olympics in Houghton, Mich. The biggest highlight, he said, was when Auburn Ski Club and Far West Nordic hosted the 2005 Junior Olympics.

This past Junior Olympics in Soldier Hollow, Utah, Wood placed 15th in freestyle and 12th in the classic discipline. He, Tyler Wright and Colin Shane posted a 17th-place finish for Far West Nordic in the relay competition.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Grasseschi said. “If he puts his mind to it, he can go far. He has the potential to be a good skier.

“For Spencer to succeed he just needs to believe in himself.”

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