The road to the Nordic Junior National Championships that will be held in Vermont next March began in dominating fashion for the Methow Valley Nordic Team competing at the Bavarian Cup in Leavenworth last Saturday and Sunday.

The Bavarian was the first in a series of junior qualifier events for skiers 14 years and older and also included the U14 championships for skiers 12 and 13 years old.

Owing to bare and wet conditions at Leavenworth, the races were moved to Stevens Pass, while skiers under 11 years of age raced at the flat Tumwater campground. At both venues, MVNT let it be known that they are a team to be reckoned with.

Zane Strome won Saturday’s 2-kilometer skate race at Tumwater and Ian Delong placed second. Lindsay Worrell won the girls’ U12 race. Jory Grialou took the girls’ U10, followed by Stella Scholz and Dashe McCabe in second and third. Carter and Graham Sheley placed sixth and eighth respectively among U10 boys.

Meanwhile, at Stevens Pass “the wind was howling and the rain changed to snow in time for the classic sprints,” said MVNT program director and coach Leslie Hall. “It was tough conditions for a long day of racing but the racers managed to fight through the adversity with some great results.”

Walker Hall led the U14 boys. Emerson Worrell finished second with Peter Aspholm fourth. Novie McCabe fought hard for second place among U14 girls and Gretta Scholz placed fourth. Taya Delong captured third in U16 girls followed by Danielle Mott in fourth. Paul Everett was fourth in the U18 division.

Jake Harrop, competing in the B final, ended up 11th overall while Geza Sukovaty placed 25th. Olivia Ekblad skied away from Ella Hall for the win among U18 girls. Hall placed second and Claire Waichler lunged ahead of a Bend skier to capture third.

“The timers had the hardest day in those conditions,” said Hall, but added that those skiers placing in the top three had qualifying races that will “set them up well on the path to Junior Nationals in Vermont in March.”

“Sunday was a snowy day on Stevens Pass and several of our U12 racers opted to join the race at Stevens since there wasn’t an event at Tumwater,’’ Hall said. “The Methow skiers dominated the U14 categories, taking the win in both the boys’ and girls’ 2.5K mass start skate race and sweeping the boys’ race.”

Walker Hall won the U14 crown for the second day with Emerson Worrell close behind. Peter Aspholm came back from a fall at the start to place third. Ian Delong and Zane Strome raced up in the U14 age division and placed fifth and 10th respectively.

Novie McCabe skied away from the U14 girls for the championship crown, Gretta Scholz placed fourth and Lindsay Worrell fifth.

Taya Delong finish third among U16 girls in the 5K mass start and Danielle Mott took fourth. Paul Everett sprinted to first in the U18/20 boys’ 10K mass start; Jake Harrop placed 15th and Geza Sukovaty 27th.

“The Methow U18 women worked well together in the mass start race and had to fight each other for the win at the end,” Coach Hall said.

Ella Hall squeezed ahead for the win, followed closely by Claire Waichler and Olivia Ekblad.

The Methow team will be in Bend, Ore., this weekend (Jan. 25 – 26) for the next junior qualifying race at the Sunnyside Pursuit.