By Mike Maltais

Competition is underway at the United States Ski Association Junior National Cross country Ski Championships in Stowe, Vt. Five members of the Methow Valley Nordic Team (MVNT) who qualified to join the Pacific North Ski Association’s Junior Nationals Team at the championships already have the 5-kilometer classic individual start race in the rear view mirror as they look forward to the week’s remaining events.

Olivia Ekblad, Claire Waichler, Ella Hall, Maya Seckinger, and Taya Delong completed the 5K on Monday (March 3) and will compete in the classic sprint races on Wednesday (March 5), the mass start skate races on Friday (March 7) and relays on Saturday (March 8).

“It was cold and windy at the venue [Monday], which made it tough to stand on the starting line but nice for classical race waxing,” said coach Leslie Hall. “The Vermont sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.”

Ekblad skied “a strong race” in the U18 category and finished 25th in a competitive field of 81 racers, Hall said. Waichler placed 37th and Hall 68th.

Seckinger finished a strong 24th among U16 girls and Delong tied for 31st with another PNSA teammate in her first trip to Junior Nationals.

The five MVNT skiers qualified for the Junior Nationals by placing among top tier finishers in five of eight PNSA sanctioned races held at Leavenworth, Wash., Bend, Ore., Soldier Hollow, Utah, and Mt. Spokane earlier in the season.

Race results can be followed at